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Talk Start-up To Me



Making that decision to establish your own start-up is already difficult enough−having to deal with the various terms involved can only make the pursuit even harder. Here at Brainsparks we’ve stumbled upon jargon that has lead us to stop and think a couple of times, “What does this even mean?” So, we’ve taken on the task of walking our fellow startup rookies into knowing a thing or two about the startup speak so you can, at long last, exclaim to your more seasoned comrades, “Talk start-up to me!”






What we thought it meant:  Tech projects run by the likes of Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg, which are then sold by the millions.


What it actually means:  There are several definitions that are going around aiming to explain what a startup really is. However, we found one that is on the target for those of us still shooting blindly (newbies, this one's for you). Taken from Lean Startup founder, Eric Ries, he says, “A start-up is a human institution designed to deliver a new product or service under conditions of extreme uncertainty.”


Start-ups aren’t defined by the products or services they produce but by their purpose and context - to offer and test an idea that may potentially become a sound business.





What we thought it meant:  Lean? That can mean anything! But doesn't it mostly apply to muscle tone or meats?


What it actually means:  LEAN. A popular term being used around the community that was popularized by Eric Ries, who cooked up a method to eliminate the previous belief that all start-ups cannot have a formula, or method, to help guide them toward success. Lean, used in start-up speak, refers to making your business highly effective by relying on a methodology that banks on the following:

  • validated learning 
  • scientific experimentation
  • iterative product releases to shorten product development cycles
  • measured progress
  • and valuable customer feedback


Now, you might be thinking, "Why, thanks for explaining something to us by using more terms we don't know!" Patience, friend (we'll follow up on those terms another time so, don't forget to subscribe!). But to make things simpler, think of lean as being the most efficient method of starting up. It frowns upon 'wasteful' practices, such as investing too much time (or money) in perfecting a product and instead it emphasizes getting customer feedback early and regularly. Learning is an essential tool in making a start-up 'lean' because by testing out your product and learning from the feedback early on, you are able to trim down on resources that you could have wasted. 





What we thought it meant:  A pivot is the center of rotation. *pats back for remembering grade school science terminology*


What it actually means:  Although our assumed meaning of a pivot isn’t wrong, it's also not right in the context of the startup community. To simplify the various definitions offered by the start-up gods for us rookies, we want to explain pivot as a fundamental and structural shift that happens in your start-up after you've tested it out. Pivoting doesn't mean you have to change your vision, just how you go about achieving it.


BONUS:  Persevere is also an important term used in relation to pivot. While the decision to pivot entails adapting or changing, the decision to persevere means staying on the same course. Whether or not a startup chooses to pivot or to persevere should be aligned to achieving one's vision.


There you have it! The first three of many terms we will tackle in order to get our vocabulary running at Start-up Expert level. We've still got a long way to go so do follow our blog and keep updated with more posts that will tackle topics connected to the local start-up community. Also, we've been reading a lot to be able to learn about the start-up speak and community. We encourage our fellow start-up enthusiasts to do their own reading. So, if you're looking for something to help you get started, check out The Entrepreneur's Guide to Customer Development! It's a good read and will definitely help you out in your start-up journey!



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