Entering the world of startups can be a daunting and honestly, quite a confusing process. There are a multitude of terms and acronyms used constantly within the world of SMEs (including the acronym SME which stands for Small and Medium-sized Enterprise by the way). Therefore, the first lesson of this module will guide you through this web of terminology.

Business terms

  1. Acquisition
    When an organisation buys another company, by acquiring more than 50% of the shares it effectively gains control. Acquisitions are pretty common among small and medium sized companies but the larger deals among global companies tend to make the headlines.

    Example: Facebook bought Instagram for $1 billion in 2012, further adding to the total of 82 companies that the social network has acquired!
  2. Incubator
    A program or firm that helps grow a startup from an early stage idea to a stand alone company. This is done by providing mentorship, guidance, and resources to the founders. An incubation period can last from a few months to a few years!
  3. Early Adopters
    Are the very first users/consumers of a new business or product. They provide valuable early feedback and also help increase exposure of the new brand.

    Example: One characteristic of early adopters might be their willingness to wait in long lines for the release of a new product - think back to the launch of the first iPhone in 2007!
  4. Disruptive Technology
    An innovation that irrevocably changes how we as consumers, businesses, or industries operate. It will often completely replace or alter old habits due to the fact that it is superior to what came before!

    Example: Could you now even imagine a world without Netflix? The company completely disrupted how we consume film & TV and has now become a core part of that industry. Remember Blockbuster anyone?!
  5. Lean Startup
    A method of starting a company where you develop a product that consumers have already demonstrated desire for, as opposed to creating a product that you hope demand will emerge for. Lean startup products are therefore dictated by the consumer rather than the market or business itself.

    Example: Dropbox - the file transfer service! The company began life as a 3 minute video showing consumers what they could do. Response to the video allowed Dropbox to gauge that there was demand for the product and also gain an initial audience. This video ultimately gave the company enough reason to expand and grow to now be used by over 500 million users worldwide!
  6. Unicorn
    A term used to describe a startup company that is worth over $1 billion. It was first coined to describe the mega software startups of the 2000s like Facebook. It was estimated that only 0.07% of these companies ever reached the $1 billion mark, making them as rare as finding a unicorn!

    Example: Airbnb, Tesla, Instagram and SpaceX are all unicorn companies. 🦄
  7. Gamification
    Incorporating interactive game-style mechanics to a product, using elements such as rewards (medals, coins, badges etc.) to increase user engagement. It taps into people’s natural tendencies for competition and achievement.

    Example: Duolingo uses a leaderboard, achievements and other incentives to try and get its users to continue completing its language lessons.
  8. Scale Up
    The process of how businesses plan to grow in key areas such as their company size, market share and company awareness etc.

    Example: A pair of co-founders might embark on some fundraising in order to be able to hire some staff to launch their company.
  9. Freemium
    “Free” + “premium” - a business model that offers their customers free basic versions of their product/service with the option to purchase more advanced features. The free version aims to establish the initial audience that’ll then pay for access to the whole product or service.

    Example: Spotify is a great example of a product that uses a freemium model. Users can signup and stream music for free but only in shuffle mode and with regular ads. By upgrading to Spotify premium users gain access to all features and the removal of ads.
The largest ever acquisition in history was in 1999 when Vodafone acquired Mannesmann for $183 billion!

Marketing & design terms

  1. UI
    User Interface!

    The way in which users interact with a website or an application - using menus, lists, checkboxes etc. If done well then UI will normally follow some simple design principles that aim to keep the interaction process clean and simple. UI informs decisions on for example, how a button should look and where it should be placed.

    Can sometimes refer to the physical interface a user is presented with when interacting with a device - for a laptop that’d be the screen, the mouse, the keyboard etc.

    Example: An example of great UI, *ahem*, is the TalentPool signup process! We’ve kept the layout as clear and engaging as possible, as well as showing how many more steps are remaining.
  2. UX
    User Experience!

    Refers to all interactions between a user and a company’s service or products. UX focuses on the user’s journey to complete an action on a platform.

    Example: Duolingo offers a pretty frictionless process to learning a new language, something that many people would normally struggle to get off the ground. Users simply have to select which language they’d like to learn, state what they’re learning it, and decide which daily goal they’d like to keep to. They are then immediately launched into a lesson, thus beginning the process. No payment plans or profile creation, but straight to it. Thus creating a very smooth user experience. With UX, less is often more!
  3. Demographic
    A defined segment of the population (with a specific age, gender, location, occupation etc.) that have been identified as a key consumer market for your brand/product.

    Example: Our key demographic at TalentPool are recent graduates located in the UK!
  4. SEO
    Search Engine Optimisation!

    The factors that determine how high up in a search engine’s results your website ranks.

    Example: Posting on social media and writing blog posts help keep your website populated with recent content, improving the ranking.

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