For bootstrapping tech startups, there are alternative, cost-effective routes that can provide relatively robust intellectual property (IP) protection. Confidentiality agreements and trade secret protection can work just as well as costly patent registration, especially when combined with exceptional innovation design and speed. All employees, board members and advisors should be required to sign agreements obligating them to assign all business-related IP to the startup. You will also want to extend IP protection through agreements with non-employees, including vendors. outsourced designers, consultants, engineers, and even customers.
Based on your description, copyright protection would likely be advisable. To copyright your work, you will pay a fraction of the cost that a design patent would cost you. If you want to take a look at the informational pamphlet on copyright protection provided by the United States Copyright Office, click here. Alternatively, Stanford University maintains a comprehensive copyright/fair use website that will provide you endless information to help you decide if copyright protection is the right route for your product.