Posted on

A brief intro to some of the terminology used on our blog and in the 'startup' community

If you're new to startups, entrepreneurship and their world generally you might be wondering what the hell a startup, accelerator, Silicon Roundabout etc is. We're sorry we haven't explained sooner but here are some answers to some of our most frequently asked questions (just a few to start with, more will be added soon!)

Q. What is a startup?

A. When we say "startup", we really mean "startup company". A startup is a company that has been founded fairly recently and works with a certain culture. One of the main things is that these companies are designed to be fast growth. This means that a corner shop that opens in the town centre might not be considered a startup, but a company who are designing an app to sell to the whole world and fast are. Successful startups build or create something a lot of people want and then reach all of those people. Often they are tech or software companies but not all the time, although startups generally use a lot of tech based stuff to launch themselves, so websites, social media etc. Growth is fast with most companies receiving investment  (by most I mean most successful ones) which allows them to take on more staff and spread their reach further. If you'd like to read more about what a startup is, this is a great article

Q. What is a entrepreneur?

A. This one is a slightly contested topic. The traditional explanation is someone who runs their own business or businesses, but recently there is a new trend of non business running entrepreneurs. As this post explains, being an entrepreneur is becoming more about the qualities a person has and the way they work, rather than being limited to running a business. For example, if a person is able to see gaps in the market, find a solution that can help this, and think of how to reach out to all the people affected, take risks for their vision and work extremely hard to make it happen, but they work for a large company and are aiming to better the company by doing so, they can still be considered an entrepreneur. There are plenty of different qualities that "make" someone an entrepreneur that have been written about extensively, way more than I've listed. As a taster you can find a good intro on Forbes

Q. What are all these Silicion locations?

A. Silicon Valley refers to a place in California that is the hub for tech companies. It started in the '70s with some of the older, larger companies held bases there and developed everything from integrated circuits to PCs and video games. Apple have a base there, as do Google. Nowadays there's also a massive startup culture. People like Facebook, Air BnB, Buffer and many many others work out of Silicon Valley, and there are also a huge amount of investors, events, conferences, meet ups etc. Silicon Roundabout is the London equivalent. The name itself was coined about Old Street roundabout, Shoreditch, and plenty of the UK's finest startups have sprung up in the Shoreditch area. We've got Mind Candy, Badoo, Mixcloud….. the list goes on (there's actually a pretty good list here if you'd like to read more). There are some great events in London such as Silicon Drinkabout, which happens every Friday. The meet up moves around London and attracts a variety of people who are interested in the startup world to have a chat over a beer. We've got other Silicons in the UK too, there's Silicon Canal in Birmingham, Silicon Fen is Cambridge and Manchester also has a hub but I'm not sure what it's called. There's a great map that shows the distribution of startups around Britain.

Q. What's an accelerator?

A. An accelerator is a programme that will help develop startup businesses. They usually last anywhere from 3-6 months and through mentorship and small amounts of investment, help accelerate the development of an early stage business. In America some of the big ones are Y Combinator and Tech Stars, while in the UK we have Oxygen Accelerator and the more international Seedcamp, amongst others. There's also Entrepreneur First in the UK, which is a bit different. Rather than applying with a team and a business plan, graduates apply as a person. Applicants are screened for their qualities and whether they will make good entrepreneurs. Those who are successful then take part in a variety of team building activities as well as talks to help with different parts of business. They form teams from within the cohort to work on ideas with mentorship and funding prospects. If you don't have a team or an idea but are a sparky, entrepreneurial type grad, this type of incubator is a great option.

If you'd like any more info about any of the above or if you've got a question we haven't answered, please get in touch and let us know!