While normal startups actively seek out attention from the get-go, stealth startups do the precise opposite - keeping as much information about their product and technology hidden for as long time. But why go to such lengths? By remaining lowkey and under wraps until launch day, these innovative initiatives are able to guarantee security of their property while staying one step ahead in an extremely competitive market.

What are the Different Types of Stealth Modes?

There are two types of stealth modes. Let’s see how they operate:

Complete Stealth Mode

  • When an organization prefers not to reveal any of its intended goals and tries to keep all of its actions and processes as secret as possible, we can say that the organization is working in total stealth mode or complete stealth mode.
  • Usually, startups in complete stealth mode have websites that intentionally only provide incomplete information about the organization’s employees, location, and field of business.
  • Complete stealth mode startups do not provide many details regarding the products or services they offer; sometimes, they may even run their website with a different name.
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In-Company Stealth Mode

  • There are many companies that may not work in secrecy all the time but prefer to go in a temporary mode of secrecy only when they are about to launch a new product.
  • We can say that an organization is in “in-company stealth mode” when they are trying to keep a new project or idea as secret as possible until it’s released.
  • In-company stealth mode startups assign code names to the projects they are working on to keep scrutiny at a minimum and ensure that prying eyes stay away.
  • An organization operating under in-company stealth mode may build a cover story, carry out covert testing, or make project employees sign an additional non-disclosure agreement (NDA) to keep their activities under cover.

The Advantages of Operating a Startup in Stealth Mode

Many organizations have found success in the field of electronics, medical, education, finance, and more by working in stealth mode. There are various advantages of operating a startup in stealth mode. Here are some of them:

Safeguard Your Intellectual Property

  • Careful planning and effective strategies are a must to build revolutionary products.
  • If you are working on building a product or service that has the potential to create a huge impact on the market, it is quite obvious that such products or services require time to get them right.
  • Taking a longer time to build your product increases the risk of your idea being stolen by your competitors. Therefore, working in “stealth mode” will help you protect your intellectual property. Keeping your plans under wraps can prevent competitors from copying the technology that you have used to build your product.
  • You should secure your intellectual property from a legal point of view, as it may take years to perfect your flagship product before taking it to the market.

Avoid Distraction and Early Attention

  • Operating your startup in stealth mode helps you avoid early attention. This is especially important if you want to avoid any kind of distraction before launching your product to the market publicly, as being in the public eye can be a huge distraction for your team, and may end up hurting your business. In today’s fast-paced world, it can add extra pressure on everyone involved in the organization and affect coordination, muddling the vision of the organization.
  • It will also allow you to implement your strategies effectively as you can completely focus on your product or service without worrying about branding, public relations, and so on.
  • Working in secrecy allows you to launch your product exactly the way you have envisioned.
  • By avoiding early attention and by going public as late as possible, you give less time to your competitors to react, allowing you to gain a significant foothold with the audience.

Puts You in Complete Control

  • Many startup founders fear their idea being stolen and so they live in a constant state of stress over the speed and implementation of their idea. Operating your startup in stealth mode helps you avoid press attention, thereby keeping your activities out of the public space.
  • You can use your social media platforms in such a way that you can have complete control over what investors and potential customers can see. Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter can be utilized as your own press.

A Well-Timed Release

  • A well-timed product or service release is another important factor to achieve success. You should make sure that your product hits the market at the right time with the right functionality.
  • Startup owners often try to rush their products to the market as they believe that by launching a product before others will make them pioneers in the industry. Unfortunately, this is not true. Being the first to launch something does not always imply success. Operating your startup in stealth mode gives you enough time to determine if your product is capable of handling the expected fast start.
  • Working in stealth mode allows you to analyze and evaluate market opportunities in a much better way. It gives you a good overview of the state of the industry. It will also give you enough time to develop new skills and improve your product launch strategy and give you a clear idea about when your product is truly ready for the market. With a better perspective, you will be able to make better judgments about when your product should be released.

When You Can Launch a Stealth Mode Startup

You need to consider a few things before going into stealth mode. You can launch a stealth mode startup:

  • When you are launching a new version of your existing product. If one of your products is doing well in the market and if you are planning to create an improvised version of this product or something that is more than slightly different from the existing one, working in a state of secrecy can play to your advantage since you already have a good understanding of the market thanks to your existing product that defined it for you. If you are an established company that has a firm market fit for your product, working in stealth mode is a good choice.
  • If your product is heavily tech-centric. If you are working on developing a revolutionary product, it may require a substantial amount of time to get it right. Such products are heavily tech-centric and you may need a lot of time to work out new technology. Path-breaking innovations often require more money and manpower to develop faster. Working in stealth mode can give you a head start as some big companies may become interested in what you have to offer and may consider funding your project rather than developing it themselves.

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Some Common Worries About Stealth Mode

Let’s have a look at some of the common challenges that businesses, especially smaller ones can face while operating in stealth mode.

  • Normal startups have the advantage of gaining free publicity. However, a stealth-mode company may have to invest time and money to garner attention. This may not be a problem for bigger companies as they have the necessary funds and resources to take care of that, but smaller companies may face lots of hardships to do so.
  • Getting feedback in the product development stage is very important. Gaining feedback about what will work and what won’t will help shape your product better. Operating in stealth mode limits the amount of feedback and expert opinions you can receive.
  • Funds are crucial to support your projects, especially while running a small business. Operating in stealth mode can make it more challenging for you to secure funding, as investors may be hesitant as you haven’t disclosed your products or services publicly. Due to this, you may have to follow the traditional method of acquiring funds by scheduling private meetings with investors and trying to convince them to secure funds manually.
  • Since you have to keep your activities under the radar while running a stealth mode startup, there will be no pre-buzz. This is a huge drawback, as pre-buzz can create excitement and have a strong impact on customer reception.

Final Thoughts

There are various advantages of running a company in stealth mode; however, it is not for everyone. The idea of working under secrecy may sound exciting at first; however, it comes with an array of challenges.

You should analyze your business' standpoint and objectives and decide accordingly. Remember, operating in stealth mode can be a boon for your business; however, the advantages can quickly turn to downsides if the timing is not right.