StartUp Dictionary | Key Terms & Phrases For StartUp Founders

An Introduction To StartUp Industry Acronyms

FounderFriend Logo & StartUp Consultant James Sinclair running a Design Thinking Workshop.

Welcome to our comprehensive guide on key startup and industry terms. Whether you’re a seasoned entrepreneur or just starting out, understanding the terminology used in the startup world is crucial to your success. From product development and fundraising to go-to-market strategies and everything in between, this guide will provide you with a clear understanding of the language used in the industry.

As you dive into the world of startups, you may come across an overwhelming number of acronyms and buzzwords. However, as entrepreneur and investor Mark Cuban once said, “The only thing worse than no information is misinformation.” That’s why we’ve compiled this guide to help you navigate the jargon-filled landscape of startups and ensure you have the right information to make informed decisions.

Product Development

Acronyms:

  1. MVP – Minimum Viable Product: The most basic version of a product that can be released to the market for feedback and testing.
  2. PoC – Proof of Concept: A demonstration of the feasibility of a product or idea, typically in the form of a prototype or experiment.
  3. UX – User Experience: The overall experience a user has when interacting with a product or service, including usability, functionality, and design.
  4. UI – User Interface: The visual and interactive elements of a product or service that allow users to interact with it, including buttons, menus, and graphics.
  5. API – Application Programming Interface: A set of protocols and tools for building software applications, allowing different applications to communicate with each other.
  6. SDK – Software Development Kit: A collection of software development tools that are used to create applications for a specific platform or operating system.
  7. CMS – Content Management System: A software application used to manage the creation and modification of digital content, typically used for websites or blogs.
  8. ERP – Enterprise Resource Planning: A software system used to manage and integrate a company’s business processes, including accounting, inventory, and customer management.
  9. CRM – Customer Relationship Management: A system for managing a company’s interactions with current and potential customers, including sales, marketing, and customer service.
  10. CAD – Computer-Aided Design: The use of computer software to create detailed drawings and models for product design.
  11. BOM – Bill of Materials: A list of all the components and materials needed to create a product.
  12. DFM – Design for Manufacturability: The process of designing a product that can be easily and efficiently manufactured at scale.
  13. DFMEA – Design Failure Modes and Effects Analysis: A systematic approach to identifying and mitigating potential failure modes in a product design.
  14. DFX – Design for Excellence: An approach to product design that aims to optimize all aspects of the product, including functionality, manufacturability, and sustainability.
  15. IPR – Intellectual Property Rights: Legal rights that protect original works, including patents, trademarks, and copyrights.
  16. IoT – Internet of Things: The network of physical devices, vehicles, and other objects embedded with sensors, software, and connectivity that enables them to collect and exchange data.
  17. AI – Artificial Intelligence: The simulation of human intelligence processes by computer systems, including learning, reasoning, and self-correction.
  18. ML – Machine Learning: A subset of AI that uses algorithms to learn from data and make predictions or decisions without being explicitly programmed.
  19. NLP – Natural Language Processing: The ability of computers to interpret and understand human language, including speech and text.
  20. AR – Augmented Reality: The integration of digital information with the user’s environment in real time, typically through a mobile device or wearable technology.
  21. VR – Virtual Reality: A computer-generated simulation of a three-dimensional environment that can be interacted with in a realistic way, typically through a headset or other immersive technology.
  22. MR – Mixed Reality: A hybrid of AR and VR that combines the real world with virtual objects, typically through a headset or glasses.
  23. PCB – Printed Circuit Board: A board that connects electronic components using conductive tracks, pads, and other features etched onto a non-conductive substrate.
  24. RF – Radio Frequency: The frequency range of electromagnetic waves used for wireless communication, typically between 3 kHz and 300 GHz.
  25. SoC – System on a Chip: An integrated circuit that contains all the components of a computer or other electronic system on a single chip.

Core Terms:

  1. Agile: A software development methodology that emphasizes iterative and incremental development, collaboration, and flexibility.
  2. Backlog: A list of tasks or features that need to be completed in a software development project.
  3. Beta testing: The stage of software development where the product is released to a limited group of users for testing and feedback.
  4. Bug: An error or flaw in software that causes it to behave unexpectedly or incorrectly.
  5. Code: The programming instructions that make up a software application.
  6. Debugging: The process of identifying and fixing bugs in software.
  7. Deployment: The process of releasing a software application to the public or to a specific environment.
  8. Development cycle: The process of designing, building, testing, and releasing a software application.
  9. Feature: A specific function or capability of a software application.
  10. Front-end: The user-facing side of a software application, including the user interface and user experience.
  11. Integration: The process of combining different components or systems into a single software application.
  12. Iteration: A repeatable cycle of development activities that results in an improved version of a software application.
  13. Open source: Software that is freely available and can be modified and distributed by anyone.
  14. Prototype: A preliminary version of a product or software application that is used for testing and feedback.
  15. Release: The final version of a software application that is made available to the public or to a specific audience.
  16. Scrum: A framework for agile software development that emphasizes collaboration, self-organization, and iterative development.
  17. Sprint: A timeboxed period of development in which a specific set of tasks or features are completed.
  18. Stakeholder: Any person or group that has an interest in a software development project, including users, customers, investors, and team members.
  19. Testing: The process of evaluating a software application to ensure that it functions correctly and meets the requirements.
  20. User story: A description of a software feature or task from the perspective of the user.
  21. Version control: The process of managing changes to a software application or source code over time.
  22. Waterfall: A traditional software development methodology that emphasizes a sequential approach to development, with each stage completed before moving on to the next.
  23. Wireframe: A visual representation of a software application that shows the layout and functionality of each screen or page.
  24. Workflow: The sequence of tasks and activities required to complete a specific process or project.
  25. XML – Extensible Markup Language: A markup language that is used to encode documents in a format that is both human-readable and machine-readable.

Fundraising

Acronyms:

  1. AUM – Assets Under Management: The total value of the assets that a fund manager or investment firm manages on behalf of clients.
  2. CAC – Customer Acquisition Cost: The cost of acquiring a new customer, including marketing and sales expenses.
  3. CF – Cash Flow: The amount of cash that is generated or consumed by a business over a period of time.
  4. EBITDA – Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation, and Amortization: A measure of a company’s operating performance that excludes non-operating expenses.
  5. IPO – Initial Public Offering: The first sale of stock in a private company to the public.
  6. M&A – Merger and Acquisition: The process of combining two or more companies into a single entity.
  7. ROI – Return on Investment: A measure of the profitability of an investment, calculated as a percentage of the initial investment.
  8. SaaS – Software as a Service: A software delivery model where software applications are hosted by a vendor and accessed by users over the internet.
  9. VC – Venture Capital: Funding provided to early-stage companies with high growth potential, typically in exchange for equity.
  10. YoY – Year over Year: A comparison of a company’s performance or financial results over the course of one year to the same period in the previous year.

Core Terms:

  1. Angel investor: An individual who invests capital in a startup or early-stage company in exchange for equity.
  2. Burn rate: The rate at which a company is spending its cash reserves to fund operations.
  3. Capital: Money or assets that are used to finance a business or investment.
  4. Crowdfunding: The practice of raising funds for a project or business from a large number of people, typically through an online platform.
  5. Dilution: The reduction in percentage ownership of a company’s shares that occurs when new shares are issued.
  6. Exit strategy: A plan for how an investor or company will exit an investment, typically through a sale or IPO.
  7. Fundraising: The process of raising capital for a business or investment.
  8. Incubator: An organization that provides resources and support to startups in their early stages of development.
  9. Investor: An individual or organization that provides capital to a business or investment in exchange for ownership or returns.
  10. Pitch: A presentation or proposal given to potential investors to convince them to invest in a business or idea.
  11. Pre-money valuation: The value of a company before new investments or capital infusions are added.
  12. Seed funding: The initial capital raised by a startup or early-stage company to support product development and early operations.
  13. Series A funding: The first significant round of investment in a startup or early-stage company, typically after seed funding.
  14. Term sheet: A document outlining the terms and conditions of an investment, including the amount of investment, valuation, and ownership percentage.
  15. Valuation: The process of determining the value of a company or investment.

Marketing & Sales

Acronyms:

  1. B2B – Business to Business: The practice of selling products or services from one business to another.
  2. B2C – Business to Consumer: The practice of selling products or services directly to consumers.
  3. CPC – Cost per Click: The cost an advertiser pays for each click on their ad.
  4. CRM – Customer Relationship Management: The practice of managing customer interactions and relationships with a business.
  5. CTA – Call to Action: A prompt that encourages a user to take a specific action, such as clicking a button or filling out a form.
  6. KPI – Key Performance Indicator: A metric used to evaluate the success of a marketing or sales campaign.
  7. PPC – Pay per Click: An advertising model where advertisers pay a fee each time their ad is clicked.
  8. SEO – Search Engine Optimization: The process of improving a website’s visibility in search engine results pages.
  9. SMM – Social Media Marketing: The practice of promoting products or services on social media platforms.
  10. ROI – Return on Investment: A measure of the profitability of an investment, calculated as a percentage of the initial investment.

Core Terms:

  1. Branding: The practice of creating a unique identity and personality for a product or company.
  2. Content marketing: The practice of creating and distributing valuable content to attract and engage a target audience.
  3. Conversion rate: The percentage of website visitors who complete a desired action, such as making a purchase or filling out a form.
  4. Customer acquisition: The process of acquiring new customers through marketing and sales efforts.
  5. Customer retention: The practice of keeping existing customers satisfied and loyal to a business.
  6. Demographics: Characteristics of a population, such as age, gender, income, and education level, used to target marketing efforts.
  7. Lead generation: The process of attracting and identifying potential customers for a business.
  8. Market research: The process of gathering information about a market, including its size, competition, and customer needs and preferences.
  9. Marketing automation: The use of software to automate repetitive marketing tasks, such as email campaigns and social media posts.
  10. Marketing funnel: The process of converting website visitors into customers, typically consisting of multiple stages or steps.
  11. Product market fit: The extent to which a product or service meets the needs and wants of a target market.
  12. Sales funnel: The process of converting leads into customers, typically consisting of multiple stages or steps.
  13. Sales pipeline: A visual representation of a company’s sales process, from lead generation to deal closing.
  14. Segmentation: The practice of dividing a market into smaller, more targeted segments based on demographics, behavior, or other characteristics.
  15. Value proposition: A statement that communicates the unique value a product or service offers to customers.

Operations

Acronyms:

  1. ERP – Enterprise Resource Planning: A system used to manage and automate business processes, such as accounting, inventory management, and human resources.
  2. FIFO – First In, First Out: A method of inventory management where the oldest items in inventory are sold first.
  3. JIT – Just In Time: A production strategy that focuses on producing and delivering products only when they are needed.
  4. KPI – Key Performance Indicator: A metric used to evaluate the success of an operational process or department.
  5. MRP – Material Requirements Planning: A system used to plan and manage the materials needed for production.
  6. OEE – Overall Equipment Effectiveness: A metric used to measure the efficiency of manufacturing equipment.
  7. P&L – Profit and Loss: A financial statement that shows a company’s revenues and expenses over a specified period of time.
  8. QC – Quality Control: The process of ensuring that products meet specific quality standards.
  9. SKU – Stock Keeping Unit: A unique identifier used to track and manage inventory.
  10. SOP – Standard Operating Procedure: A set of instructions or guidelines for performing a specific task or process.

Core Terms:

  1. Capacity planning: The process of determining the production capacity needed to meet demand for a product or service.
  2. Cycle time: The amount of time it takes to complete a specific task or process.
  3. Efficiency: The extent to which resources, such as time and materials, are used to produce a desired outcome.
  4. Inventory management: The process of tracking and managing inventory levels to ensure that products are available when needed.
  5. Lead time: The amount of time it takes to complete an entire production process, from order placement to delivery.
  6. Lean manufacturing: A production strategy that aims to reduce waste and increase efficiency.
  7. Logistics: The process of planning, implementing, and controlling the movement of goods and materials.
  8. Maintenance: The process of repairing and maintaining equipment and facilities to ensure optimal performance.
  9. Manufacturing process: The series of steps involved in producing a product, from raw materials to finished goods.
  10. Operations management: The process of planning, coordinating, and controlling the activities involved in producing and delivering products and services.
  11. Quality assurance: The process of ensuring that products or services meet specific quality standards.
  12. Supply chain: The network of suppliers, manufacturers, and distributors involved in producing and delivering a product or service.
  13. Time and motion study: A method used to analyze and improve the efficiency of a specific task or process.
  14. Total quality management: A management approach that focuses on continuous improvement and customer satisfaction.
  15. Workflow: The sequence of tasks involved in completing a specific process or project.

Legal & Compliance

Acronyms:

  1. AML – Anti-Money Laundering: The process of preventing the use of illegally obtained funds for legitimate purposes.
  2. CCPA – California Consumer Privacy Act: A law that gives California consumers the right to know what personal information companies collect about them.
  3. EEOC – Equal Employment Opportunity Commission: A federal agency that enforces laws prohibiting discrimination in the workplace.
  4. FCPA – Foreign Corrupt Practices Act: A law that prohibits bribery of foreign officials by U.S. companies.
  5. GDPR – General Data Protection Regulation: A law that regulates the collection, use, and storage of personal data in the European Union.
  6. HIPAA – Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act: A law that regulates the privacy and security of personal health information.
  7. NDA – Non-Disclosure Agreement: A legal contract that prohibits the disclosure of confidential information.
  8. SEC – Securities and Exchange Commission: A federal agency that regulates the securities industry.
  9. SOX – Sarbanes-Oxley Act: A law that regulates financial reporting and accounting practices of publicly traded companies.
  10. TCPA – Telephone Consumer Protection Act: A law that regulates telemarketing calls and text messages.

Core Terms:

  1. Compliance: The process of ensuring that a company is following all relevant laws, regulations, and industry standards.
  2. Contract: A legal agreement between two or more parties that outlines the terms and conditions of a transaction or relationship.
  3. Due diligence: The process of investigating a company or individual to assess the potential risks and benefits of a transaction or relationship.
  4. Intellectual property: Legal protections for creative works, such as patents, trademarks, and copyrights.
  5. Liability: Legal responsibility for a particular action or outcome.
  6. Litigation: The process of resolving disputes through legal action.
  7. Patent: Legal protection for an invention or innovation.
  8. Privacy policy: A document that outlines how a company collects, uses, and protects personal information.
  9. Regulatory compliance: The process of ensuring that a company is following all relevant regulations and standards.
  10. Risk management: The process of identifying, assessing, and mitigating potential risks to a company.
  11. Trademark: A symbol, word, or phrase that identifies and distinguishes a company’s products or services from those of others.
  12. Waiver: A legal document that waives a right or claim.
  13. Whistleblower: An individual who reports illegal or unethical behavior within an organization.
  14. Workplace harassment: Any behavior that creates a hostile or intimidating work environment, based on factors such as gender, race, or sexual orientation.
  15. Wrongful termination: The unlawful termination of an employee’s employment.

Industry Specific

  1. ARR – Annual Recurring Revenue: A metric used by subscription-based companies to measure their recurring revenue in a year.
  2. B2B – Business-to-Business: A type of commerce in which businesses sell products or services to other businesses.
  3. B2C – Business-to-Consumer: A type of commerce in which businesses sell products or services directly to consumers.
  4. CAC – Customer Acquisition Cost: The cost a company incurs to acquire a new customer.
  5. Churn – The rate at which customers stop using a company’s product or service.
  6. CRM – Customer Relationship Management: A software tool that helps companies manage interactions with their customers.
  7. D2C – Direct-to-Consumer: A business model in which companies sell products directly to consumers, bypassing traditional retail channels.
  8. E-commerce – Electronic Commerce: The buying and selling of goods and services online.
  9. Freemium – A business model in which a basic version of a product or service is offered for free, with premium features available for purchase.
  10. Gross margin – The difference between a company’s revenue and its cost of goods sold, expressed as a percentage.
  11. IOT – Internet of Things: A network of connected devices that can exchange data and perform actions.
  12. LTV – Lifetime Value: The total value a customer is expected to generate for a company over their lifetime.
  13. MRR – Monthly Recurring Revenue: A metric used by subscription-based companies to measure their recurring revenue in a month.
  14. MVP – Minimum Viable Product: A version of a product with just enough features to test its viability.
  15. NPS – Net Promoter Score: A measure of customer loyalty and satisfaction.
  16. Open source – Software that is freely available and can be modified by anyone.
  17. PaaS – Platform as a Service: A cloud computing model in which a provider offers a platform for building, testing, and deploying software.
  18. SaaS – Software as a Service: A cloud computing model in which a provider offers software applications over the internet.
  19. Seed round – The initial round of funding for a startup.
  20. SEO – Search Engine Optimization: The process of optimizing a website to rank higher in search engine results.
  21. SMB – Small and Medium-sized Business: A business with fewer than 500 employees.
  22. Social media marketing – The use of social media platforms to promote a product or service.
  23. Start-up – A newly established company with an innovative product or service.
  24. UX – User Experience: The overall experience a user has when interacting with a product or service.
  25. Viral marketing – A marketing technique that relies on word-of-mouth or social sharing to spread a message or product.
  26. AI – Artificial Intelligence: The use of computer algorithms to simulate human intelligence.
  27. AR – Augmented Reality: The overlay of digital information onto the real world.
  28. Blockchain – A distributed digital ledger used to record transactions.
  29. CPM – Cost per Mille: The cost of 1,000 impressions in online advertising.
  30. CPC – Cost per Click: The cost of each click in a pay-per-click advertising campaign.
  31. Crowdfunding – The practice of funding a project or venture by raising small amounts of money from a large number of people.
  32. EBITDA – Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation, and Amortization: A measure of a company’s operating performance.
  33. Exit strategy – A plan for how a company’s founders and investors will exit the business, such as through an IPO or acquisition.
  34. Fintech – Financial Technology: The use of technology to improve and automate financial services.
  35. GDPR – General Data Protection Regulation: A regulation in the European Union that governs data protection and privacy.
  36. IPO – Initial Public Offering: The first sale of a company’s stock to the public.
  37. Lean startup – A methodology for developing businesses and products based on iterative, rapid experimentation.
  38. Machine learning – A subset of artificial intelligence that enables machines to learn from data without being explicitly programmed.
  39. Marketplace – A platform that connects buyers and sellers.
  40. Micro-influencer – An influencer with a smaller but more targeted following than a traditional influencer.
  41. Mobile-first – A design approach that prioritizes the mobile experience over the desktop experience.
  42. Omnichannel – A marketing approach that provides a seamless experience across all channels, including online and offline.
  43. Pivot – A strategic change in a company’s direction or focus.
  44. Retargeting – A marketing technique that shows ads to people who have already interacted with a company or its website.
  45. SaaS-enabled marketplace – A marketplace that is built on top of a SaaS platform.
  46. Scale-up – A company that has achieved significant growth and is on its way to becoming a large enterprise.
  47. Smart contract – A self-executing contract with the terms of the agreement written into code.
  48. Unicorn – A privately held startup with a valuation of $1 billion or more.
  49. Virtual reality – A computer-generated simulation of a three-dimensional environment that can be interacted with in a seemingly real way.
  50. Yield – The percentage return on an investment or advertising campaign.

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