“We’re in stealth mode” – The definitive Startup Hipster phrasebook

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So, you’ve got the beanbags and ping-pong table, the Segway and the Brown Ale, but now you need to talk the talk. This week, the Startup Hipster introduces and decodes the phrases you need to know to help you survive in the cut-throat world of hackathons and stealth modes…

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When I decided to start my first company fresh out of college, I really only had two things to my name: a dream, and lots of money from my Daddy. For those young people of today getting familiar with their first startup, they look and sound daunting. So where do you start? Now at the peak of my career, I feel the need to pass on all of the knowledges and learnings I have acquired. First things first – you’ve got to nail down the language.

Honing your startup lingo is essential. Studies have found that only 4 per cent of startup phrases actually contain true meaning, the other 96 per cent are intelligibly clouded with buzzwords, quotes from the Steve Jobs biography and acronyms. You will have to learn how to decode these phrases and words, for your success and social status depends on it. Luckily for you, I’ve made the definitive startup phrasebook to help you out.

fixiePhrase: “We’re disruptive”

Translation: “We’re doing things differently than our competitors. It’s questionable whether this difference is actually a good thing, but we’re going to go ahead with it anyway.”

Phrase: “We’re reinventing the way…”

Translation: “So you’re using something that works perfectly well? Let us just go ahead and completely change that for you. Don’t worry – we’ll make the transition hard, confusing, and monumentally frustrating.”


Phrase: “We have quite a lot of users”

Translation: “I’m pretty sure you could fit all of our users, and their parents, and their parent’s parents into this room and still have enough space left to comfortably park a tank.”

Phrase: “It’s social”

Translation: “We’re basically going to vomit our app onto your Facebook timeline. We hope your friends won’t mind the excessive activity updates, sign up to our service themselves, and let the app vomit onto their timeline too.”

Phrase: “We’re in stealth mode”

Translation: “We… well I… have an idea that’s been typed up, and that’s about it. I’m still looking for code lines and pixels to make it run. You can go ahead and visit mysite.com and sign up to my fictitious email list, powered by Launchrock.”


Phrase: “We’re throwing a party”

Translation: “We’re going to be playing techno at our office and standing around awkwardly with a small group of people. There will be about 50 developers there and a few weird investment types in suits looking a little sweaty. See you there for the networking.”

Phrase: “We got tons of press”

Translation: “We got TechCrunch. We also got some other smaller outlets that lovingly copy pasted our press release and put it under some obscure category on their website.”

Phrase: “I went to a private dinner last night with some VIPs”

Translation: “A regular bunch of startup people got together in a swanky restaurant and ate expensive food, drank expensive wine, and talked about funnels. I was there for that.”


Phrase: “We’re having a hackathon this Saturday”

Translation: “It’s the weekend, so we’re going to sit behind our computers for 24 hours and generally degrade our health. Come and join!”

Phrase: “We have flexible working hours”

Translation: Our employees can come in 30 minutes later if they send out an email to everyone a week in advance but they shouldn’t do it more than twice a month. If they are ill, with leprosy or whatever, they still have to be on Campfire or Hipchat.”

Phrase: “They wanted to buy us, but we turned the offer down” 

Translation: “No one ever, in the world ever, has tried to acquire us. If someone did try, I would sell immediately.”

Phrase: “Making money is not really important right now”

Translation: “Making money is extremely important right now.”

Image credits:
Speech bubble: flickr user quinnanya
Fixie: flickr user bucher
Party: flickr user zephyrance
Nerds: flickr user jonfeinstein