How To Speak Startup

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Hang with startup kids long enough, and you’ll notice that they have their own language. No, bro, it’s a SaaS play in the on-demand food space. Think of it as the Uber for gluten-free Whole Foods delivery, ok? It never ends: We’re actively raising, but really want to make sure that we hit investor-board fit before product-market sync, you know?

This can be confusing.

However, TechCrunch is here to demystify startup lingo into a more common lingua franca. The startup kids, after all, are worth trying to understand. One or two of them might even build something usable.

So, without further ado, I give you How To Speak Startup:

Acqui-hire – A strategy for acquiring talent pioneered by Google in the mid-2000s that happens when a bigger company thinks your team is good but your idea is hilariously bad. Also called a “signing bonus.”

Failure – A bad thing that the Silly Valley has recently put on a pedestal as something to be celebrated.

Cashflow Positive – Someone gave us a dollar.

Pivot – What happens when a company realizes its course of action is not living up to expectations. The classic historic example is The Point, which became Groupon after the company posted a coupon to a pizza place in The Point’s building in Chicago. (See also, Failure.)

SaaS — It loses money.

Pre-Money Valuation – A number you made up.

Post-Money Valuation – A number that you made up alongside your VC with the addition of some cash. Your burn rate is probably too high.

“I work in PR.” – I am, in fact, in possession of several journalists’ email addresses.

Exit – Exits come in two different flavors for entrepreneurs: good and bad. Good exits happen when you’re “killing it,” your company hasn’t killed you yet, and another company comes along to buy yours. (See possibly, acqui-hire.) Bad exits are another way of saying you failed to disrupt much of anything besides your VC’s portfolio performance.

“I’m a serial entrepreneur.” – Person who had two ideas, both of which failed.

The Space – Because calling the field in which they’re operating an industry, vertical or even genre is too hard, entrepreneurs like referring to their company as being a player in a given space. They especially like doing this when they know they’re in a crowded market. We don’t know why they do this either.

VC – 1) Venture capitalists raise money from wealthy individuals and institutions and dump lots of said money into young companies in exchange for a cut of the company.  2) An institutional dealer of pharmaceutical-grade Opium. (See also, Opium.)

Opium – OPM, or “other people’s money,” is an incredibly addictive substance to entrepreneurs that’s rarely respected or missed until it dries up.

“We’re doing great.” – We are not doing great.

SF / The Valley – A place that VC’s and tech luminaries talk up as the greatest place on Earth that you must move to if you’re from anywhere that isn’t SF or The Valley.

“We’re growing 500 percent week-over-week” — Last week we had one user, today we have six.

“We’re not currently raising.” — We’re currently raising.

UI/UX – A portmanteau of UI (“User Interface”) and UX (“User Experience”) often used by design-challenged entrepreneurs when referring to the aesthetics and usability of their product when actual understanding of good design principles is fundamentally lacking. Used in a sentence: “Our Push for Pizza for Nickelodeon VHS tapes app is crushing it because of our design wizard is slinging some hella dope UI/UX.”

“We’re a design-centric organization.” – We don’t know how to code.

Non-GAAP Profitable — What companies that are very unprofitable like to claim. The idea that non-cash costs don’t count is usually the sort of sickness you see here.

“I’m the business guy.” – (See: Free-rider problem, Growth Hacker.)

Gravity — We don’t have that in Silicon Valley.

$32 Million Series A Round — Something that is doomed to failure.

Growth Hacking – Sales, marketing and associated activities, but with a label that incorporates the word “hacking,” because nontechnical people want to call themselves “hackers” too.

“We’re seeing great gross margins, and so are investing in growth given our strong, SaaS unit-economics.” — We lose money.

“We’re stomping on the gas pedal, given our strong SaaS unit-economics, and are actively seeking additional capital to power our sector-leading growth.” — We have lost all our money and need some of yours, please.

“We’re Crushing It!” – Your dreams and investors’ dollars are probably being crushed. First rule of Fight Club, bro.

We hope this helps.

Featured Image: Bryce Durbin