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Start-up buzzwords de-coded

The rise of the startup phenomenon has also seen the rise of buzzwords, abbreviations and lingo that it can sometimes be hard to keep up with. argues that “[Buzzwords] wind up in TED Talks, pitch meetings and every tech journalist’s inbox” and this endless stream of jargon may be being abused.

“Jargon started out as a shorthand for business — special words or expressions unique to a small group and, admittedly, hard for anyone outside to understand. Now? It’s a watered down wasteland of overused terms,” they argue.

That being said, if you work in, or own a business, then it’s useful to know your ‘MVP’ from your ‘value proposition’ and your ‘freemium’ from your ‘low-hanging fruit.’

“You should invest some time in learning and understanding the relevant buzzwords and acronyms in order to communicate more effectively,” reasons one tech journalist.

Being able to understand and use (sparingly) the language used in certain business circles can help you get ahead. Pepper your pitches and presentations with them and use them to show understanding in meetings – just don’t go overboard.

Here we’ve included a handy summary of the buzzwords most relevant to startup businesses:

Accelerator – also known as an Incubator, this is a scheme where startups are given a leg-up by being nurtured with mentorships, space and often investment.

Accredited Investor (AC) – A wealthy person interested in investing in your company who has lawfully proven that they can afford to risk their money.

Boot-strapping – Using help from family or friends to support your startup. But as Forbes writer Emily Inverso argues, it’s better to just say ‘self-funded’ to avoid sounding contrite.

B2B – Business to business, i.e., you’re selling things to other businesses.

B2C – Business to consumer, i.e., you’re selling things to normal folk.

Disruptive Technology – a mind-blowing product that changes the way society works, such as Amazon, Uber and 3D printing.

Exit Strategy – Selling your company in a way that you and your investors will profit from.

Freemium – Giving the basic part of your product away and then upselling other features or ‘pro’ versions. Examples include Skype, SoundCloud and LinkedIn who all offer premium upgrades to their basic product.

Growth hacking – finding quick, cheap scalable growth strategies. This is associated with the ‘lean’ startup concept which tries to prove a business works as soon as possible and as cheaply as possible in order to prove to investors that it can be scaled up and make money.

Low-hanging fruit – things your company can do to progress quickly and easily.

MVP – Minimum Viable Product, or the simplest version of your product which can be used to test whether your concept works.

ROI – Return on Investment, i.e., how much money will your investor make?

Value Proposition – the thing that makes your product unique and attractive to customers or clients.

VC (Venture Capitalist/Capital) – A Venture Capitalist is an investor who gives money to small or new companies with the aim of profiting if the companies succeed. These are usually wealthy people who can afford to take the risk, or specialist investment companies.

Are there any other buzzwords you’ve heard that think are worth translating for your fellow alumni?


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