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Documentation as a Startup Intellectual Property

Posted by ElmiraElmirain Technical Communication on 5/22/2024 — 7 minute read

documents as valuable treasures

Let’s start with considering a hypothetical AI startup that develops a revolutionary natural language processing (NLP) platform. Despite the groundbreaking nature of their technology, the startup fails to provide any technical documentation detailing how developers can integrate their APIs, customize models, or troubleshoot common issues. As a result, potential investors are skeptical about the startup’s ability to translate its innovative ideas into a commercially viable product. Without clear documentation to support their claims, the startup struggles to secure the funding needed to further develop and market their solution.

Additionally, without clear guidance for users, adoption rates remain low, leading to limited revenue streams. Ultimately, the lack of technical documentation causes investor skepticism and hinders the startup’s ability to secure funding, resulting in its eventual closure.

The example above clearly shows how the absence of supporting technical documentation can significantly deter investors from investing in an IT startup. In this blog post, we will explain why startups must prioritize the creation of comprehensive technical documentation, how to address investors’ concerns about increased risk, lack of confidence, and customer adoption challenges.

Why Are Investors Typically Hesitant to Fund a Startup in the Absence of a Robust Documentation Backup?

Investors are usually reluctant to put their money into an IT startup that lacks supporting technical documentation, and there are several reasons why.

  • First of all, investors view startups without technical documentation as riskier investments. Without clear documentation outlining the product’s functionality, architecture, and implementation details, investors may struggle to assess the startup’s technological capabilities and potential for success. This ambiguity raises concerns about the startup’s ability to be effective.
  • Secondly, the absence of technical documentation can erode investors’ confidence in the startup’s team. Without documentation, investors may question the team’s readiness to address technical challenges.
    Technical documentation showcases the startup’s expertise in its field. For instance, if a software startup provides detailed API documentation, it signals to investors and customers that the team understands their product inside out. This level of mastery can instill confidence in investors regarding the team’s ability to deliver on their promises.
  • Next, technical documentation is essential for scalability, especially in the IT industry where rapid growth is often a key objective. Without documentation outlining scalability considerations and best practices, investors may doubt the startup’s ability to handle growth effectively.
  • Another reason is that the absence of technical documentation can hinder product adoption. Customers rely on documentation to understand how to use the product, troubleshoot issues, and integrate it into their existing systems. Without this guidance, investors may hesitate to fund the startup’s product.
  • What’s more, comprehensive technical documentation communicates transparency and reliability. This trust factor is crucial for investors who want assurance that their investment will yield returns and for customers who seek assurance that the product will perform as expected.
  • Then, there is the issue of reducing the support burden. Thorough technical documentation reduces the reliance of users on customer support by deflecting the most frequently asked questions by self-service resources for troubleshooting and implementation.
  • And, finally, in the IT realm, developer communities play a significant role. Well-documented APIs, SDKs, or frameworks can attract developers to the startup’s ecosystem. This not only expands the startup’s reach but also signifies to investors that the startup has the potential to become a key player in its niche.

In practice, it usually works this way: for example, consider a cloud computing startup that provides extensive documentation on its APIs, SDKs, and best practices for integrating with popular development frameworks. This documentation not only reassures investors of the startup’s technical prowess but also attracts developers who see the startup as a reliable partner for their projects. Similarly, customers feel confident in adopting the startup’s services knowing that they have access to robust technical resources.

Technical documentation serves as a cornerstone of credibility for IT startups, influencing both investors and customers.

startup team presenting their platform to investors

Technical Documentation as Part of Intellectual Property

Investors typically recognize several types of intellectual property (IP) as valuable assets for startups:

  • Patents. Investors value patents because they grant exclusive rights to the inventor to make, use, and sell their invention for a limited period. This is why startups with patented technologies can gain a competitive advantage in the eyes of investors.
  • Trademarks. Trademarks are valuable for startups as they distinguish their products or services from those of competitors. Investors see strong trademarks as indicators of brand recognition, customer loyalty, and market positioning.
  • Copyrights. Investors recognize copyrights as important for protecting works of authorship, such as software code and multimedia content. Startups with copyrighted materials can control how their works are used and monetized, thereby safeguarding their revenue streams.
  • Trade Secrets. Trade secrets, including confidential information, formulas, processes, and techniques, are valuable to investors because they provide a competitive advantage and contribute to a startup’s unique value proposition.
  • Trade Dress. Trade dress refers to the distinctive visual appearance or packaging of a product or service that signifies its source or origin. Investors recognize the importance of trade dress in branding, marketing, and consumer perception, as it can influence purchasing decisions.

Technical documentation can be categorized under copyrights or trade secrets and is often considered part of the intellectual property of an IT startup by investors.

The first reason for this is that technical documentation often outlines the unique processes, methodologies, and algorithms developed by the startup. These could be innovative approaches to solving problems or implementing features, which may be valuable assets for the company.

If technical documentation contains proprietary information, such as trade secrets or patented technologies, it becomes part of the company’s IP portfolio. Investors see this as a valuable asset that can provide a competitive advantage and potentially generate revenue through licensing or exclusivity agreements.

Another reason is that technical documentation can be regarded as proof of concept and startup’s viability. The documentation demonstrates the startup’s understanding of its product or service and its ability to execute its vision. It serves as evidence of the company’s technical competency and feasibility.

By recognizing technical documentation as part of the intellectual property, investors acknowledge its role in shaping the startup’s competitiveness, innovation, and long-term value.

Using ClickHelp for Developing Startup Documentation

ClickHelp is especially convenient for developing startup documentation for small businesses due to several reasons:

  • Cost-Effectiveness. Small businesses often have limited resources, and ClickHelp offers affordable pricing plans suitable for startups and small teams. Its subscription-based model eliminates the need for upfront investment in software licenses, making it a cost-effective solution for creating professional documentation.
  • Scalability. As small businesses grow, their needs may evolve. ClickHelp scales easily with the business, allowing startups to expand their documentation without additional costs. Whether the startup needs to add more users, increase storage capacity, or enhance collaboration features, ClickHelp can accommodate these changes seamlessly.
  • No Infrastructure Requirements. ClickHelp is a cloud-based platform, eliminating the need for small businesses to invest in hardware or infrastructure to host documentation. This simplifies maintenance, as ClickHelp handles software updates, backups, and security measures.
  • Quick Setup and Implementation. Small businesses often need to move quickly to launch products or services. ClickHelp allows startups to create and publish documentation rapidly. Its intuitive interface and pre-designed templates accelerate the documentation process, enabling small businesses to focus on core activities.
  • Comprehensive Support and Resources. ClickHelp provides robust customer support and a wealth of resources tailored to the needs of startups. Through documentation guides, video tutorials and responsive customer service, ClickHelp ensures that startups have the assistance they need.
  • Integration Capabilities. Small businesses often use a variety of tools and platforms to manage their operations. ClickHelp integrates seamlessly with other software applications commonly used by startups, such as project management tools, version control systems, and collaboration platforms.
  • Collaboration Features. Startups often require collaboration among team members when creating documentation. ClickHelp offers collaboration features such as real-time editing, comments, and version control, enabling seamless teamwork and communication.
  • Customization Options. The system allows startups to customize their documentation according to their branding guidelines and style preferences. This ensures consistency across all documentation materials, reinforcing the startup’s brand identity and professionalism.
  • Accessibility and Distribution. ClickHelp enables startups to publish documentation in various formats, including web-based help, PDFs, and DOCX. This flexibility ensures that documentation is accessible to users across different platforms and devices.
  • Analytics and Feedback. The platform provides analytics tools to track user engagement with documentation, such as page views, time spent, and search queries. Additionally, startups can gather feedback from users through surveys and comments, enabling continuous improvement of the documentation.

Overall, ClickHelp offers small businesses a convenient, cost-effective, scalable, and user-friendly solution for developing documentation, empowering startups to establish a foundation for growth and success.

lion embracing document


Documentation is a vital component of a startup’s intellectual property portfolio, playing a pivotal role in establishing its innovation, competitiveness, and long-term value. By recognizing technical documentation as part of intellectual property, investors acknowledge its significance in showcasing unique processes, mitigating risks, and demonstrating the startup’s feasibility and competence.

Leveraging tools like ClickHelp for developing startup documentation offers numerous advantages, including ease of use, collaboration features, customization options, accessibility, and analytics, making it a valuable asset for small businesses.

In the dynamic landscape of startup ecosystems, where innovation and differentiation are paramount, documentation is not only a means of communication but also a tangible asset that reflects a company’s vision, strategy, and growth trajectory. As startups navigate the complexities of building and scaling their businesses, documenting their processes, products, and intellectual property becomes imperative for securing investments, promoting innovation, and achieving long-term success in the market.

Good luck with your technical writing!
ClickHelp Team
Author, host and deliver documentation across platforms and devices

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