I’m a web developer/designer and had a business idea for a website about 10 years ago which, for various personal reasons have only started to take the time to start building over the last few months. I’ve had the site planned out for several years and done some design work, planning and research over the last couple of years. I currently have a full time job working as a web developer for a firm, I don’t have the funds to quit my job and focus on my own site for now. I’m spending time building the site in evenings and weekends and it’s now making good progress, especially since I stripped back a lot of ‘ideas’ after some reading of 37signals’ books and the lean startup.
Now, I'm not happy in my current job and have been keeping my eye on the market when the other day the company who I’d say would be my biggest competitor on launch of my own idea is looking for a web developer with exactly my skills and experience.
I’m wondering, should I apply? I’m thinking strategically it’d give me a great insight into how their site works and where they get their customers/contacts. On the flip side I don’t want to open myself up to them turning around and making out like I made off with their customer list or a copy of their code/database when I launch my site and they find out I'm behind it.
I consider that a lot of people must have worked for a company in the same industry before setting up on their own, potentially in competition, I imagine they’d also likely run off with a few customers too but would you say it would be unethical for me to apply or is it a great opportunity I should dive into and soak up as much information as I can?