Startup Slang

desk-office-hero-workspaceFor any readers interested in this series of blogs, I thought I would compile a list of terms used along with explanations.

I try as much as possible to avoid using jargon, but just in case I have strayed to the dark side:


  • Bootstrap – Enough money and facilities to get started
  • Seed – Small investment to help a company startup
  • Angel Investor – Provides small amounts of investment money AND advice to startups
  • Venture Capitalist (VC) – Provides larger funding for startups that are seeking high growth in exchange for a shareholding in the company
  • Shareholder agreement – A contract defining minor shareholders or investors rights
  • Founder (co) – The creators of a business
  • CEO – Chief Executive Officer, a term borrowed from the US which has no legal recognition in the UK. All officers of UK companies are called Directors. The most senior director is called a Managing Director. A Managing Director may choose to use the job title CEO. A Finance Director may choose the term CFO and a Technical Director may choose the term CTO. Chairman is the only legal officer position in the UK that does not carry the “Director” moniker.
  • MVP – Minimum Viable Product (or Proposition) The most basic product or service that can be sold.
  • Ramen Profits – Or Ramen Noodle Profits are when a company makes any profits at all, meaning it can afford to eat
  • Term Sheet – A negotiation contract issued by a serious investor indicating the basic terms and conditions under which they will conduct further investigations into investment
  • Equity – Value of a company, often defined by shares
  • Unicorn – That mythical beast, a billion dollar startup
  • Incubator – A supporting working environment which provides services, contacts and investment opportunities to early stage companies.
  • Accelerator – A supporting working environment which provides services, contacts and investment opportunities to high growth companies
  • Hub – A shared workspace that companies can use to work from
  • Co-working – Another word for a Hub
  • NDA – A non disclosure agreement, i.e. a confidentiality contract
  • Mentor – An advisor, usually somebody that has gone through the startup process themselves
  • B2B – Business to Business, or companies that sell to other companies
  • B2C – Business to Consumer, or companies that sell to consumers
  • Burn Rate – How quickly you are spending your cash, before making profits
  • Deck – A basic business plan (normally excluding confidential details)
  • Disruptive – A company or technology that changes the world.
  • Exit Strategy – Does the company intend to sell out to a competitor or go public to make it shares tradable.
  • IPO – Initial Public Offering, or floating the company on a public stock exchange to allow shareholders to trade their shares
  • Tradesale – Selling your company to the competition
  • IP – Intellectual Property, or the knowledge advantage you or your company has over its competition
  • Pivot – To change direction if your company or product is not successful
  • ROI – Return on Investment, or what investors can expect to receive in the future on the investment
  • SaaS – Software as a Service, or when your product is software that provides a service such as online accountancy
  • Traction – The measurable growth of your companies product or service


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