What's a Startup, actually?

Alex Redacted
19 replies
Long time lurker, now engaging with one of my favorite platforms of all time; Hello, hello. You may be wondering to yourself right now, "is this a trick question?" Well, no. I'm trying to find an answer to a question I'm not quite sure has a definitive, but definitely has a 'flavor'. That flavor sets precedent for what a community upholds as things Makers Make, and things...that don't live here. Yup, I'm that annoying guy. I do this everywhere. My bad. Let me explain: As a long-time lurker of Product Hunt, a weird weeb freelancer, and someone whose been building websites since the 90s, I've been around the block a few times. I saw the rise of the modern usage for Startup at its onus, and several things always stuck out to me: - It's brand-spanking new - Usually the Startup climbs the VC ladder, or goes grassroots on community, which is always nice to see succeed - It's a product or service or some sort, facilitated mostly digitally, sometimes hardware oriented, and rarely [but sometimes] physically - It has a brand-feel to it; 'disruptive' 'game-changer', things like this - It solves a pain point My ask here is...could an art business be a Startup? What if it was just selling art from a small collective, not as, say, an illustration resources kit for Sketch? Why or why not? What I'm asking here may seem really convoluted, but it isn't: What is a Startup, and what isn't a Startup? I want to know what Makers think.

Replies

Marketing, product management, sales
Hi there, Startup is a company that produces digital product/service and is able to scale fast (within the first 2 years at least). That's why a lot of startups die - they cannot get launched and cannot get first clients quickly. At least, this is how I understand your question :)
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Writing sci-fi 90s-era AI nightmares.
@aleksandra_vovchenko You are understanding my question, yes. Thanks so much for replying! Deeply appreciated. :) So it is a company that produces digital products/services [or singular], and is able to scale fast. I've asked this question on LinkedIn, and I'm getting people saying '5 years young' which doesn't sound about right. So you're saying within the first 2 years? Yes, Startups do die quickly, and can't get their first clients fast enough. I work with a lot of them, and have, and the pressure is always 'on', definitely. On this front...what /types/ of digital products or services? Your definition is fairly broad—which I like a lot—but it also leaves room for being able to really label anything a Startup. As long as it's intent on scaling quickly, and produces digital products/services. But some startups also produce technical IRL products, too, right? A lot of those are kickstarter funded. It's interesting to think about. Thanks again for replying. Wasn't sure anybody would. <3 - Kira
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Marketing, product management, sales
You're welcome:) Startup as the type of business became very mature within the last years. Beginning as a garage project for university friends, it quickly developed to a serious game for serious entrepreneurs/investors and serial founders. Again, I'm saying 2 years to scale because motivation melts, teams fall apart, money ends up, and people feel tired with working full time plus managing a side project. But if you can run more and keep small, good for you. The whole idea of startup s creating MVP and finding buyers for it, then scaling up and developing a serious project. However, your way may be different, and that's totally ok. May I ask, why the definition of a startup is so important to you? I mean, you can just do it, no matter how people will call your project.
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Writing sci-fi 90s-era AI nightmares.
@aleksandra_vovchenko "The whole idea of startup s creating MVP and finding buyers for it, then scaling up and developing a serious project." This is interesting to me, because again, the language is very open. "May I ask, why the definition of a startup is so important to you? I mean, you can just do it, no matter how people will call your project." I want to know what the language means, by asking people who are not my direct connections and clients. Then, I want to see if it's possible to break a definition; wrap a product or service in the same trappings, to see if it sticks. To disrupt a landscape; startup terminology in action. It's not important in a usual way. It's important insofar as it is [bluntly and honestly] a compulsion to see what makes a framework tick. In this case, the trade-dress of a terminology. What people say here is invaluable insight. And since nobody here knows me, that's even better. It's not biased. My end goal is a product I'm working on; I'm transparent. But the eternal goal is seeing what something means, then seeing if I can twist the meaning. It's exploration. I hope this is an OK response. I don't quite know how to articulate it, except I often squat in places I'm not probably not meant to be [like LinkedIn, for instance], and manage to make space, despite all evidence supporting the contrary.
CEO @ Afino
A tool to help managers build a great culture for their team!
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Writing sci-fi 90s-era AI nightmares.
@james_afino So a startup is a tool to help managers build a great culture for their team? I'm not sure what this means. Can you explain? Not all startups are manager-focused. Nor are they culture-focused. Sometimes, they're just a really helpful widget, or perhaps an app that helps consumers, like Headspace [mindfulness].
Aspiring Entrepreneur
A startup is a fancy term for any business that, from the time of commencement, has a vision to scale fast, very fast. ANY business can be a startup.Product differentiation and growth are the primary objectives of what we call a startup.
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@rachit_sangani ANY business can be a Startup? That's interesting. So it's about the vision to scale fast, very fast...I like that idea, and I wonder if other people would actually know they can apply that to things that are /outside/ of tech. It seems that's a bigger challenge, because tech is mostly digital deliverables...but I can't see why it wouldn't apply in other ways. Basically what I'm saying is I rarely see it applied outside of tech. Sometimes it's retail, but...not very often.
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Aspiring Entrepreneur
@kiraieigh Yes, indeed it is easier for tech companies to scale. For example, outside of tech, it could be a chain of restaurants brand or a retail product.
Product manager & developer SENDME.CC
Well, let me share my opinion about what startup is. My thoughts have changes as many projects I get failed or succeed and then failed. Startup is online or offline projects who can not cover her spends without any investments from side out. And startup ends when investments end. At this point startup die or getting to the next checkpoint. Investments means not only money - its any resource. Your time as developer, your time as manager or time of your friends.
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@mflash123 Interesting, so you think it's moreso offline/online projects where the business object [for lack of a better term] has to have investments in order to cover the spending? What if you have investment? What if, like in my case, I have the funds to put into what I'm making [say, marketing], but also the skills to make the thing I am? Then that's not a Startup, hmm. How many startups have you started/been involved in? I'm just curious, your experience seems a lot bigger than mine as a freelancer for startups.
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Product manager & developer SENDME.CC
@kiraieigh Sorry for my english in case if I make mistakes=) About my experience: I didnt start any succeed project yet, but I did about 10 projects failed =) Now, I am working on 11th project, hope it gets success. In all projects I was like an investor+programmer. So, I think, project doesnt care who is investor. Product owner or side out investor. In both case, project doesnt earn this money. We wish, project will earn later, ofcourse. In your case - you are investor from your project side.
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Writing sci-fi 90s-era AI nightmares.
@mflash123 Oh no worries at all. <3 You can take all that, and I'm positive you are, and really wield what you've learned to absolutely hit home what you're working on. I'm excited for you. That's when it actually gets really exciting; I've worked with lots of startups, and the ones that truly excel are actually run by people who learn the ropes through difficult lessons. You got this, 100%. > So, I think, project doesnt care who is investor. Product owner or side out investor. In both case, project doesnt earn this money. We wish, project will earn later, ofcourse. In your case - you are investor from your project side. Very interesting. This makes a lot of sense. Thank you for replying, I found this conversation very informative. LMK if you go on the content marketing path for your venture's exposure; I got free resources and am more than willing to throw them your way.
Founder of Compete Themes
"A startup is a company designed to grow fast." - Paul Graham http://www.paulgraham.com/growth... That's an old post but I still think it's the best definition. This also highlights why new terms like "maker" are important. Many of us create digital or physical businesses that are not necessarily designed for high growth. Therefore, we don't fit in as "startups," but we certainly aren't "mom & pop shops" either. "Maker" is a good catchall term for a lot of creators on PH.
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@ben_sibley1 That's a really good way to put it, and also a good example as to why Maker is being used here/why it's a good term. I consider myself a Maker, but I'm also just...honestly...making a sci-fi book based on GIGO robots who try to save a planet sized ship. It doesn't really fit the 'designed to grow fast' model, though I did design it to grow fast [there are reasons as to why it isn't, and none of them have to do with my skills or the product. I'll offer more of an explanation if you want, but this is about your definitions right now :) ] "Maker" does seem to be the best term. I like this idea a lot, and it helps me understand the term better, too.
maker of @youremarks
In philosophical terms, its the combination of self-exploration, finding the meaning of life, purpose, etc.
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@gj_jo Well, then that's definitely something I can get behind. Would you agree with this statement?: People found startups because they have a vision, or saw a need wasn't being met, and wanted to do something better."
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maker of @youremarks
@kiraieigh Yes, 👍 🙌 👏 It always starts within.
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@gj_jo Awesome. Thank you for replying, it means a lot to me. :)