3 Overused Startup Terms Reply

The startup world — like any field — has its own lexicon.  Living in this world, I am guilty of overusing industry jargon myself. But there are several buzzwords that have become overused and misused to the point they are useless.

Here are three of the most annoying terms I hope will disappear from the startup lexicon soon.

Pivot: The Financial Times defines “pivot” as “a shift in strategy that “start-ups go through to find the right customer, value proposition, and positioning.” Example usage: our company pivoted from our original model as a provider of SEO analytics to a self-serve mobile advertising platform.

Every startup goes through countless iterations of different approaches to product, market, pricing, even people.  We know that. Even some big companies have pivoted very successfully (e.g., Netflix).  However, the term “pivot” is now widely used as a euphemism for “we’re failing at the current business, and we need to try something different.”

Growth Hacking: Here’s an excellent, top-ranked answer defining “growth hacking” from Quora:

“It’s the idea that an entrepreneur can take a clever or non-traditional approach to increasing the growth rate/adoption of his or her product by ‘hacking’ something together specifically for growth purposes.” (Full text here):

“Growth hacking” also refers to a technology-driven approach to increase growth.

So what’s my beef with “growth hacking?”  It is now widely overused to describe almost any effort to grow the user base at an accelerated rate on a lean budget, which is what is the goal of every startup.

SoLoMo: This is an abbreviated phrase for “Social, Local, Mobile.” Opus Research analyst Greg Sterling provides a nice and precise definition (via Mashable):

“SoLoMo is a more mobile-centric version of [hyperlocal search] with greater local precision: It’s about getting nearby information on demand, wherever you may be.”

No doubt, the emergence of each of these megatrends — and the convergence of all three — are currently a ripe area for innovation. However, since almost every product has mobile functionality, Facebook Connect APIs are remarkably easy to use, and every cell phone can be geo-located, any company can claim to be taking advantage of “SoLoMo.”  That’s like saying you take advantage of the microprocessor.  Except “SoLoMo” sounds silly at best.

This is not a complete list of annoying and overused startup terms, but a start. What are your additions?

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