5 Startup Buzzwords that Make Me Hate Your Company
While I’m not directly involved in OpenView’s investment decisions, like everyone else in the VC world, I’m constantly force-fed a steady diet of startup buzzwordery. Most of my intake comes from startup pitches, descriptions, and articles that read like the “Prestige Worldwide” investment pitch, minus the entertaining music video.
Given that the elevator pitch is generally a company’s first and only chance to impress a prospective investor before their attention turns to something else, it’s remarkable how many companies choose to dilute them with meaningless filler. It’s a wasted opportunity to impress your audience.
Some buzzwords are defensible. ‘Big Data’ is an enormous buzzword, but I’ll tolerate it because it’s an equally enormous field, and might actually give me some information about what your company does and your competitive advantage. The ones that really bug me are startup buzzwords that offer no additional information on the problem your company is solving, provide absolutely no reason why you’re different from the competition, and actually make me angry just for having read them.
Here are the 5 worst startup buzzwords to use at your own peril:
Disruptive – Also known as game-changing, revolutionary, or innovative. Any tech startup that is good at what they do will end up being disruptive to some industry, so calling yourself disruptive is basically saying your company is good. Oh really? You think your own company is good? Shocking!
User-Friendly – You launched your startup two months ago and it has no features and no integrations, so it damn well better be easy to use. Besides, what data are you citing? You telling me your product has good usability is the UX equivalent of calling your company disruptive.
SoLoMo – In isolation, “social,” “local,” or “mobile” might be viable ways to describe your business, but using all three together tells me nothing except that you read way too much TechCrunch and don’t have a clue where you’re going. Bonus points for using this buzzword so much that it needs to be abbreviated (note: bonus points are a bad thing).
Driving Engagement – Typically, this phrase — along with anything to do with “community” or “network” — serves primarily to obfuscate what the problem is you’re trying to solve and how you intend to make money solving it. Driving engagement in a community may be a means to an end, but it is NOT an end, and anyone who treats it as such immediately earns my loathing.
SaaS / Cloud – Five years ago, these terms may have actually differentiated your business from the thousands of others just like it. Now, pretty much everything is cloud, so if that’s the best thing you have to say about your company, don’t quit your day job. Before you use either of these words in your pitch, consider the few most recent software IPOs: Yelp, Linkedin, Facebook, ExactTarget, Pandora, Angie’s List, Groupon, etc. How many of them are accessed through a browser? By my count, all of them. Sorry, your SaaS delivery method does not make you special.