Is it a bad idea if I build the MVP of my startup on my company’s pc?

23 July 2023
Question

Hello, I'm in the process of developing the Minimum Viable Product (MVP) for my startup, it's a simple idea for a gaming app that should help you learn investing. However, I'm currently employed and the only available resource I have for this development is my company's computer. I'm wondering, what are the potential drawbacks and risks associated with developing the MVP for my startup on my employer's computer? Could this lead to any legal or ethical issues? How might this decision impact my startup's future or my professional standing in my current job?

Answer

Short Answer: DON’T DO IT.

Long Answer: It’s a common problem. As you’re building a business you need to take risks and investing into your venture. So buying a separate notebook and investing your time after work is a much better choice than taking company’s inventory and investing company’s time into your product. As otherwise the product does not belong to you, legally speaking.

Many companies have policies in place that explicitly prohibit the use of company resources for non-work-related activities. Violating these policies could lead to disciplinary action, and in some cases, termination of employment.

Not only that, there could be legal implications. Depending on your employment contract and the laws in your jurisdiction, any work done on a company’s computer could be considered the intellectual property of the company. Doh!

This means that your employer could potentially claim ownership of your MVP and any related ideas or code. So you either have to be really sneaky, or buy your own gear and do it on your own time.

From an ethical perspective โ€” I’m not going to judge you, but I still think using company resources for personal gain is kind of a breach of trust. It’s important to respect the boundaries between your work for your employer and your personal projects.

The decision to use your company’s PC for developing your startup’s MVP could also have implications for your startup’s future. Legal challenges, reputational damage, or potential difficulties in securing funding are all possible consequences of this decision. Imagine you build it into a unicorn, and then someone tells you โ€” it’s not your product as you’ve built it during working hours and on company’s property? That could be disastrous.

Look for alternatives, at least. If purchasing your own equipment is not feasible, there are other options available. Renting equipment or using cloud-based development environments could be viable solutions. There are also numerous programs available to support startups and entrepreneurs, which could provide you with the resources you need. Apply for them!

If unsure, I strongly recommend seeking legal advice to ensure you’re not inadvertently putting yourself or your startup at risk.

Remember, the path to entrepreneurship is a marathon, not a sprint. Taking the time to set a strong and ethical foundation for your startup now will pay off in the long run.




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