The start up environment is a world of its own. Every start up will have a different culture, different set of values and different ways in which they approach business. One thing that is most common in start-ups however, is the terminology used in everyday conversation. You could think of it as its very own language…maybe someone should think of writing a start up dictionary!
Here I am going to describe some of the terms that are thrown around… (Word of warning – I’ve taken a slight comical/sarcastic view of these!)
- Unicorn – a unicorn is a term in the investment industry that denotes a start up company whose valuation has exceeded $1 billion dollars. Basically any company that has/will be making a s**t load of money making their investors very happy. The truth is that unicorns are BS, they are mythical for a reason and no company really ever becomes a ‘unicorn’.
- Superstar/rockstar – ah the good old buzzwords used in job descriptions. A few companies are guilty of the sin by using the term in their job titles.
‘We’re looking for a rockstar marketing go-getter’
‘We need a superstar to help grow our users to 1 million’
Please stop doing this.
- Pivot – every company will pivot at least a few times in their lifetime. This is the in denial state a company will go through when they realise that what they are doing isn’t working. However, when described by the CEO, they will announce that what they are actually doing is ‘changing their strategy to fit a current market opportunity.
4. Currently raising – let’s face it, 90% of start-ups are in a perpetual mode of raising. When you hear this term thrown around, it means that a company is looking for investment.
- Get shit done – usually a term thrown around by HR. They don’t care about candidates’ credentials; they are simply looking for someone who can ‘get shit done’. A nicer version of this phrase is ‘make things happen’. In my opinion, if you have come across a candidate who has this skill, make sure you snap them up. Every start up needs one of these.
- I’m on target – no one is ever actually on target. The reality in a start up is that you make your own targets, so if you’re not on target (usually all the time), just change your targets. Makes life much easier.
- We need to be growth hacking – the be all and end all of a start-ups problems. Every start up thinks the way to progress is to growth hack. This basically means to grow the users of a company as quickly as possible. Many people throw the title of growth hacker more often than they should. From experience, there are very few people who can growth hack successfully.
- What’s your run rate? – Translated: ‘How long until you run out of money?’ Any answer you get is probably going to be inflated so bare this in mind. No matter how much time you spend on financial forecasting, you will always run out of money quicker than you anticipate.
I hope this gives you bit of insight into the daily language of a start up, go ahead and try using it in context. Are there any others I have missed out? Let me know in the comments below.
start up, startupjargon