Glossary: 48 Startup Jargon Words You Should Know

1. Freemium

Freemium is a business model where a product or service is provided free of charge, but a premium is charged for advanced features & functionality. This model is typically applied to digital services in software & media.

2. Big Data

Big Data is a large collection of data sets that are too difficult to process using on-hand database management tools to capture, manage, and process within a tolerable elapsed time. Larger collections of data sets are used for increased opportunities in accurate analysis and quality of research. 

3. Knowledge Economy

Knowledge Economy is an economy that uses knowledge technologies to produce economic benefits and job creation. Knowledge & education serve as “human capital” in this economy where a knowledge worker produces ideas and information. 

4. Information Society

Information Society is a society where the creation, distribution, use, integration, and manipulation of information serves as a significant economic, political and cultural activity. Information Societies utilize information technologies to advance in creative and productive ways.

5. Cross-Platform

Cross-Platform is the capability of software or hardware to run identically on different platforms. For example, many applications can be switched from different mobile devices to desktops.

6. Gamification

Gamification is the use of game-thinking and game mechanic in non-game contexts in order to engage users and solve problems. It can be used in applications and processes to improve user engagement, ROI, data quality, timeliness, and learning.

7. Intellectual Capital

Intellectual Capital is the difference in value between tangible assets and market value. Intellectual Capital is often critical in the knowledge economy and information society to run a company.

8. Niche

Niche is a particular speciality a person or business operates in. Niche markets provide opportunities for small businesses where large corporations do not compete in. 

9. Streamlined

Streamlined is to improve the efficiency of a process, business, or organization by simplifying or eliminating unnecessary steps, using modernizing techniques, or taking other approaches. 

10. Incentivize

Incentivize is to offer a supplemental reward for a specific behavior, designed to encourage that behavior.

11. Localization

Localization is a practice of adjusting a product’s functional properties and characteristics to accommodate the language, cultural, political and legal differences of a foreign market or country. For example, the creation of manuals or guides in which the text can easily be translated. 

12. Core Competency

Core Competency is the main strength or strategic advantage of a business. Core competencies are the combination of pooled knowledge and technical capacities that allow an organization to be competitive in the marketplace.

13. Drinking the Kool-Aid

Drinking the Kool-Aid is a common saying to embrace a particular philosophy or perspective within a common work environment to obey the superiors or group leaders. 

14. Scalable

Scalable is when an organization is able to maintain and increase their level of performance & efficiency when tested with larger demands. A scalable company is one that can maintain or improve profit margins while sales volume increases. 

15. Best Practice

Best Practices are methods or techniques that have consistently shown results far superior to those achieved with other means. Thus, these methods or techniques evolve as benchmarks for an organization to use.

16. Ecosystem

Ecosystem is an economic community supported by a foundation of interacting organizations and individuals. The economic community (ecosystem) produces goods and services of value to customers, who are also members of the ecosystem. Example members of an ecosystem are: suppliers, producers, competitors, and other stakeholders.

17. Leverage

Leverage is the ability to influence a system or environment, in a way that multiplies the outcome of the effort without an increase in the consumption of resources. 

18. Robust

Robust is a characteristic describing a model, test, or system ability to effectively perform while its variables are altered. A robust concept can operate without failure under a variety of conditions and remain effective. 

19. Return on Investment (ROI)

Return on Investment is a profitability measure that evaluates the performance of a business by dividing net profit by net worth. Return on investment isn’t necessarily the same as profit. ROI deals with the money you invest in the company and the return you realize on that money based on the net profit of the business. Profit, on the other hand, measures the performance of the business.

20. Key Performance Indicators

Key Performance Indicators is a performance measurement that is commonly used by an organization to evaluate its success or the success of a particular activity it engaged in. Success is often defined in terms of making progress toward strategic goals. 

21. Point of Sale

Point of Sale is the place where a retail transaction is completed. It is the point at which a customer makes a payment to a merchant in exchange for goods or services.

22. Bandwidth

Bandwidth is the resources needed to complete a task or project. Ex: How much bandwidth does it take to support x amount of people?

23. Bottleneck

Bottleneck is the point of congestion in a system that occurs when workloads arrive more quickly than the point can handle them. The inefficiencies brought on by the bottleneck often creates a queue and a longer overall cycle time. Ex: The onset of the natural disaster brought on an overflowing amount of emergency requests, which created a bottleneck for the city’s agencies unable to coordinate accordingly to serve everyone.

24. Benchmarking

Benchmarking is the measurement of the quality of an organization’s policies, products, programs, strategies, and their comparison to standard measurements established by industry peers. Benchmarking allows an organization to determine what improvements have been made, to analyze the high performance levels of others, and to improve future performance. Ex: Benchmarking has allowed for Organization x to identify their areas for need of growth by utilizing the standards set by a leading similar organization in the industry. 

25. Competitive advantage

Competitive Advantage is the superiority gained by an organization when they can provide the same value as their competitors but at a lower price or offer greater value through differentiation. Ex: Organization X’s competitive advantage is that they are the first in the industry to apply a new model in raising funds, while creating impact.

26. Deliverable

Deliverable is a project management term used for the quantifiable goods or services that will be provided at the completion of a project. These deliverables can be tangible or intangible parts of the development process of a project. Ex: Organization X’s deliverables this month are workshops and the documentation of the workshop’s results. 

27. Core Values

Core Values are the principles that guide an organization’s internal conduct as well as its relationship with the external world. Often these values are summarized in the organization’s mission statement & brand. Ex: Organization X’s unique core values in sustainability, impact, and financial success has attracted a wide range of interest in how they achieve their work.

28. Low-hanging Fruit

Low-hanging Fruit is a commonly used metaphor for doing the simplest or easiest work first. In sales, it means to target an easy to achieve market first since it is does not require a lot of effort. Ex: Organization X has started to target more users in their community, since they are more easily accesible for their pilot project than communities out of state. 

29. Stakeholders

Stakeholders is a person, group, or organization that has interest or concern in an organization. Stakeholders can affect or be affected by the organization’s objectives, policies, and actions. Ex: Organization X connected with their stakeholders by reaching out to their donors, board members, partners, and sponsors for feedback after their annual gala.

30. Win-Win

Win-Win is a negotiation philosophy in which all parties of an agreement or deal realize their fair share of the benefits or profit. Ex: Organization X and Organization Y found themselves in a win-win situation when they were both able to align their mission, while getting the respective credit they needed from their output. 

31. Exit-Strategy

Exit Strategy is a way of “cashing out” through investments made by a venture capitalist or business owner. For example, a company being bought out by a larger player in the industry is an exit strategy. Ex: Most organizations that fulfill social impact in their work and financial impact should rarely have an exit strategy since their social mission will always need to be met. 

32. B2B

B2B (business 2 business) is the commerce transaction between businesses, such as between a manufacturer and a wholesaler.

33. B2C

B2C (business to consumer) is the transaction that occurs between a company and a consumer, as opposed to the transaction between companies (B2B). Ex: Organization X has a strong B2C due to their strong customer service and warranty coverage. 

34. Peel the Onion

Peel the Onion is to search for the root of the cause by unearthing each layer of the problem–by digging deeper in the layers of different meanings, interpretations, and data. Ex: Organization X saw their incoming feedback as normal procedure, but when one individual started to analyze each stakeholder’s response and followed up with in person meetings––the organization discovered the root of their challenges in connecting with a wider range of stakeholders.

35. Triple Bottom Line

Triple Bottom Line is the values and criteria for measuring organizational and societal success: economic, ecological, and social. Ex: Organization X has worked towards a triple bottom line by reducing their carbon footprint by 25%, contributing 20% of their profits to a local partnered organization, and maintaining their profit for the year.

36. Shared Value Creation

Shared Value Creation is to develop meaningful societal value through business strategy and social responsibility. The central premise behind creating shared value is that the competitiveness of a company and the health of the communities around it are mutually dependent. Recognizing and capitalizing on these connections between societal and economic progress has the power to unleash the next wave of global growth and to redefine capitalism. Ex: Unlike many organizations with corporate social responsibility initiatives that are confined to a financial budget, Organization X adopted CSV (creating shared value) into their work internally. Organization X started to reassess their employee benefits and working conditions in order to improve the welfare of their employees and the community at large.

37. PPP (public private partnership)

PPP (public private partnership) is the partnership between public and private sectors. These partnerships are created to be mutually beneficial to increase community engagement, awareness, publicity, and profit. Ex: Company Xpartnered with local schools to increase student engagement in the classroom by providing their new products to enhance learning. 

38. Social Capital

Social Capital is the tools and training that enhance individual productivity through common features of an organization’s networks, behaviors, culture, knowledge, & additional investment. Ex: Organization X has a large amount of social capital due to their founder’s strong network of mentors and connections for Organization X’s employees.

39. CSR

CSR (corporate social responsibility) is a form of corporate self-regulation with the law, ethical standards, and international norms integrated into a business model. CSR aims to embrace responsibility for the company’s actions and encourage a positive impact through its activities on the environment, consumers, employees, communities, stakeholders, and all other members of the public sphere who may also be considered as stakeholders. CSR efforts are often fitted to a financial budget to accomplish. Ex: Organization X launched a new CSR initiative this year after a recent scandal that harmed the organization’s reputation. Organization X has committed to launching an employee volunteer engagement program to an X amount of community service hours and an $X amount of donations to several different nonprofits. 

40. Margin

Margin is the difference between the cost price and selling price of a product in commerce.

41. Emerging Markets

Emerging Market is a new market with social or business activity in the process of rapid growth and industrialization. Ex: With the recent trend in viral videos and meme generation, Organization X has been at the forefront of this new emerging market by providing a service for companies seeking to tap into this new culture for their products.

42. Supply Chain

Supply Chain is an entire network of entities, directly or indirectly interlinked and interdependent in serving the same consumer or customer. It comprises of vendors that supply raw material, producers who convert the material into products, warehouses that store, distribution centers that deliver to the retailers, and retailers who bring the product to the ultimate user. Ex: Organization X has needed to reassess their supply chain to improve their sustainability of raw materials and ethical employment in their manufacturing. 

43. Base of the Pyramid (BoP)

BoP (base of the pyramid) is the largest, but poorest socio-economic group. In global terms, this is the 4 billion people who live on less than US $2.50 per day. Ex: Organization X serves BoP through the products they develop that solve simple agricultural & sanitary problems.

44. Upstream Model

Upstream Model is the production process involving the search for and extracting raw materials. Thus, any industry that relies on the extraction of raw materials commonly has an upstream stage in its production process. Ex: The tea company has a heavy upstream model that extracts particular raw ingredients sustainability for their unique beverage recipe and in support of local farmers in the Amazon.

45. Disrupt

Disrupt is to create a new market and value network through innovation or to transform an existing market by displacing or improving an earlier technology. Ex: Company X new product has disrupted the mobile app market by making it more accesible for others to create their own mobile apps. 

46. Crossing the Chasm

Crossing the Chasm is the technology adoption lifecycle where five main segments are recognized: innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority and laggards. According to Moore, the marketer should focus on one group of customers at a time, using each group as a base for marketing to the next group. The most difficult step is making the transition between visionaries (early adopters) and pragmatists (early majority). Ex: Organization X has applied this method into their marketing strategy by choosing unique distribution channels and pricing structures according to their customer segments.

47. Pivot

Pivot is to change in direction. When you pivot you are exchanging the current advantages you hold for a different set of advantages. Ex: Organization X decided to pivot in their business by closing down their earlier product to focus on their most recently popular product. 

48. Agile

Agile is to be able to adapt rapidly and cost efficiently in response to changes in the business environment. Business agility can be maintained by adapting goods and services to meet customer demands, adjusting to the changes in a business environment and taking advantage of human resources. Ex: Company X has been very agile during the recent shift in market rates & consumer interests by quickly developing new services and testing new products. 


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