I'd disagree with anything less than having at least a working prototype. How
successful are you going to be marketing anything when you can't show the
customer what they're buying before they've paid up? Nobody sensible's going to
buy a pig in a poke. The NDA, though, is standard. If I'm going to show my
prototype to you with the intention of convincing you to help turn it into a
marketable product, I'm going to require a signed NDA and other agreements first
binding you to not make use of what you've seen if you don't go for the deal.
That's how confidential information's been handled for decades in every other
context, I see no reason why an inventor can't handle it the same way when
marketing their prototype.
And they'd of course handle getting help to
build a prototype the same way. When you need engineers or technicians to do
work on a confidential project, you get them under NDA as part of being hired
(or even interviewed). The tools are there to mitigate the risk of disclosure of
trade secrets, have been for decades. I see no reason why an inventor can't make
use of them.
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