There is no doubt that non-disclosure agreements are designed to protect your ideas, but asking a potential developer to sign an NDA is generally seen as unnecessary and unwise.
Idea vs Execution
Overlapping innovations and concepts in the tech world are inescapable. Even though an idea may seem novel, there is a good chance that traces of that idea can be found in technology that is already out there. In an ecosystem where ideas are borrowed and remixed constantly, an NDA is a kind of patent that can be levied only against the signer.
Unfortunately when valuating ideas, people place a lot of emphasis on the idea rather than the execution. An idea has no value unless you are able to act upon it. Asking us to sign an NDA is a signal that you are worried about your own ability to act on the idea. You should be in a place of special circumstance that gives you an advantage when solving your problem.
Lawyers are expensive
We are not lawyers. So we send all prospective contracts to a lawyer, to be read, discussed, amended, and finally signed. This costs us a lot of money and is generally not something we enjoy dealing with. You probably had a lawyer draft the NDA, so why wouldn’t we have one look at it.
Our Right to Work
NDAs do have their place, and we have signed them in the past. However, those that we have signed have always covered very specific enumerated and tangible items of declared confidential information. We need to be able to operate a business and your NDA really complicates that. Any agreement that we sign limiting disclosure or information shared with us opens up a world of potentially litigious uncertainty about what is or isn’t okay for us to do in the future. You should keep in mind that your idea may not be around in 6 months, but that NDA you want us to sign, stays with us indefinitely.
So that’s why we won’t sign your NDA right off the bat. It’s not because we don’t like you, it’s not because we want to steal your ideas, it’s not because your idea isn’t important.
It’s because the ideas you are likely to share with us are otherwise plentiful, worthless in isolation, and, in all likelihood, already known to the world in some manner.