Small Business

The Totally-Different Language of Startups

The Totally-Different Language of Startups
Bernadine Racoma

Different industries and fields of expertise tend to create their own jargon and language that can sound strange to people outside the specific circle. A new set of startup language that is quite indecipherable is gaining prominence among entrepreneurs from New York City to Silicon Valley.

These terms are now revealed, for the media and the general public. If you’re ready, here are some of the words you need to learn!

“Demo day” is a presentation staged by incubators at the close of their programs. This is to allow venture capitalists to audition new groups for possible funding. People are so used to hearing “niche” before. Now the new buzzword for a particular industry where a company wants to compete is called “space.”

“Pebcak” seems to be such a strange word. For startups, this is an acronym that stands for “problems emerge between chair and keyboard.” It is mostly used by programmers. You can be called this when you show ineptness in using software despite living in a tech-driven world.

If you are familiar with the businesses terminology sprouting in Silicon Valley, you’ll be hearing the term “DevOps.” It sounds more like something that is in the realm of intelligence operations. Actually it is short for a software engineer who works in two departments – operations and software development. It’s a company setup created by startups that aim for efficiency by operating an agile and lean software development operation.

If you hear the word “pufferfish” you might immediately think that it is an actual fish that’s known for being toxic but considered a delicacy in Japan and called “fugu.” In Silicon Valley jargon, this means startups that try to look larger by creating elaborate voice-mail systems and or having fantasy locations.

It sounds like a hierarchy ranking in the animal kingdom but “subprime unicorn” actually means a company that formerly was valued highly by investors but is now (rumored) to be worth much less.

There are many meanings attached to the work “slack,” including being loose, relaxed, slow or abating. It’s surprising that in startups, this term is a team-messaging app.

“Co-working” seems quite simple, and can indicate working with someone close to you. In startups, this means companies with larger offices that lease office spaces, work spaces or desks to smaller companies. Usually it means that the renters can share kitchens, playrooms and even have free coffee, tea or water from a common pantry.

“Accelerator” is not a vehicle pedal to make it go faster or a term used by chemists and physicists. This term is used to indicate startups that gain mentoring and credibility by joining established incubator or accelerator companies.

“Freemium” is a cute term you’ll often hear in Silicon Valley. It is used as a term to indicate a free  (or a second-rate) version of an application. You get the premium version once you subscribe or upgrade, which normally includes a fee.

Colors are also used in startup jargon. “Blueskying” means that the startup shows optimism when making presentations to investors. On the other hand ”green meadow” means that a startup has found a new market that is still undiscovered, thus no current competitors exist.

There are several more startup jargon, which is great to learn, especially if you are a translator. A “growth hacker” is someone within the startup who comes up with creative and brilliant ideas that help the business grow. “Prezi” is a short term for presentations, while “ninja” is now a term to indicate high praise for an employee’s ability. It can also mean recruiting new staff additions.

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