Do you know the feeling when someone just assumes that you know what they’re talking about but you’re absolutely lost in the conversation and you feel a little excluded? The Startup language for a novice can be full of expressions that might not be so straight forward. I started working at Helsinki Think Company one month ago and in the beginning, I heard a lot of random words popping here and there. Sometimes I just didn’t understand what people meant. I had to raise my hand and ask for explanations.

Helsinki Think Company is all about diverse and multidisciplinary action. We want to encourage people to bring their academic skills into action by trying and doing. Entrepreneurship is one form of doing. I have understood that the startup world is an open and welcoming community and becoming an entrepreneur is a possibility for doers who want to be a part of change making.

For the sake of inclusion, the language should be open and welcoming as well.

I believe in open and intelligible communication. It’s more inclusive. Language, of course, is communication and if you can’t speak the language, it’s harder to communicate. That’s why I wanted to clear things up a bit. Here are some of the words that I needed to tackle to be able to communicate in my working environment.

Startup-English-Startup by a startup rookie:

  • Accelerator: Intense program for teams to shape their business ideas. Accelerators include workshops, mentorship, learning, and developing your business idea. Usually, an accelerator culminates in a pitch event, where participating teams will showcase their ideas in front of the jury and audience.
  • Angel Investor: Unicorns and angels everywhere, a true startup fantasy world. In short, angel investors give support to startups they believe in, despite the risks of failing. So yes, the name Angel is real by its meaning. Good fairy angels exist!
  • Changemaker: Every single one of us who believes, that the world can be a better place than it already is, and works hard to make a change. Changemaker truly believes the quote by Gandhi: “Be the change you wish to see in the world”.
  • Crowdfunding: Raising small amounts of money from a large number of people for a cause, usually for business.
  • Ecosystem: Ecosystem is a living, breathing and growing system where everyone has their own role to play. By ecosystem, people usually mean the circumstances people, startups, supporting & funding organizations, and universities work and interact.
  • Hackathon: Hack & Marathon. An event, in which people meet to solve problems together, create usable software or other solution depending on the focus of the hackathon. The challenge is to be ready by the end of the event.
  • Impact: Having a strong effect on something. Aim for a positive impact.
  • MVP: Most valuable player. An awesome person who does something incredible for the team. Everyone should be the MVP of their own lives, but in a team, other team members might pick you as the MVP if you’re lucky and hard-working enough!
  • MVP: Also refers to a minimum viable product. MVP in that sense means a product with just enough features to satisfy early customers. The purpose of MVP is to collect feedback to develop the product further.
  • Networking: Something you hear people talking about all the time. Networking means to get to know other people outside of your own team. Networking might be a  frightening thing in the beginning but just be yourself, say hi and ask people how are they doing. It’s a great start.
  • Pitch: What every entrepreneur needs to be ready to give any time, anywhere. Pitch is a short, compact speech about one’s business. Pitch is for persuading listeners to believe in what you’re doing.
  • ROI: First I thought everybody was talking about the dog Roi because what I heard was “good Roi, bad Roi” (Roi is a heroic dog from old Finnish kids-series). Well, it turned out that ROI stands for the return of investment and it means how much effort you invest in vs. how much you gain something out of it.
  • Status quo: Current, stable state of everything, every changemaker’s nightmare. *see changemaker.
  • Terkko Health Hub: A startup community, a co-working area and an event space focused on health and life sciences, located in the heart of Helsinki’s academic medical campus. It’s a place for all health enthusiasts to build amazing businesses and projects together.
  • VC: Nope, not a bathroom. VC stands for Venture Capital, which is a type of private equity, a form of financing. Venture capital is to make investments in companies with good potential for development and growth.
  • “Whoops”: We are all about growing and learning,  and I believe that you need “whoops” moments to grow as an entrepreneur or just a human being. Life is all about learning and the best way to learn is after a little “whoops” moments.
  • Y4: An address for Yliopistonkatu 4, where Tiedekulma and our Center Think Company are located. “You’ll find me @Y4!”

After taking the Startup slang in control, the future for doers and entrepreneurial-minded people might be brighter, and taking a part in conversations is easier. At least you understand what people around you are talking about. That’s nice too.


Text: Liisa Lehkonen