20 Startup Terms Every Average Joe Should Know


WIT (what I thought it meant): A motorized machine that works like magic and goes fast… or an elevator like the one in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

WIM (what it means): An environment for startups that provides mentorship to guide business growth and funding. Accelerators often take stake in the startups they are assisting. Accelerators focus on establishing a business foundation quickly (compared to an “incubator,” which focuses on long-term assistance). Groundwork Labs is an accelerator.

Angel List

WIT: Santa’s good list, or the Book at the gates of heaven.

WIM: Angel.co — the Facebook of startups. It is a platform where startups can recruit co-founders and employees, and gain public exposure for angel investors, venture capitalists, and incubators/accelerators.

Angel Investors and Venture Capitalists

WIT: People who invest in good causes and people who love capitalism and adventure.

WIM: An angel investor is an informal investor who is often an affluent individual in the community and invests in exchange for a convertible note or ownership equity. A venture capitalist funds early-stage, high-potential startups (typically in the tech industry) in exchange for equity with a goal for IPO or trade sales of the company. Basically, angel investors are individuals who write percentage checks for a seed round (typically) and venture capitalists usually provide funding to high-potential companies after the seed round has been achieved. (See “Seed Round” below).


WIT: Um… no idea.

WIM: Self-sustaining your company without any outside assistance. Taken from the 19th century phrase: “Pick yourself up by your bootstraps.”

Burn Rate

WIT: How fast you can smoke a cigarette.

WIM: How fast you are spending your money. (I was close with that one.)

Community Manager

WIT: The manager of an apartment complex.

WIM: My job. A general term for the person who manages business-to-customer relations and inter-business culture. Really, whatever the business needs.


WIT: What happens when you leave one spiritual belief for another.

WIM: The “conversion rate” is the percentage of website visitors or company fans who become customers. *A very important number*


WIT: Something similar to “crowd-surfing.”

WIM: Gathering services, ideas, and content from a general population rather than business specialists or conservative avenues (banks, loans, investors, employees). Crowdsourcing typically takes place online. It is very controversial in some arenas right now. (Check out this article on Wired.)


WIT: Me, when I am talking too loud in class.

WIM: An idea or business that literally “disrupts” a current business trend and changes (or seeks to change) the way that business market operates.

Elevator Pitch

WIT: When you throw something in an elevator just as it starts going down or up and the movement combined with gravity makes something awesome happen.

WIM: A quick speech that outlines the idea of your business. Every member of a startup must be fluent in an elevator pitch. I can say mine in 20 seconds.


WIT: Something to do with a mortgage.

WIM: The amount of stock worth of a company and the percentages owned/available to investors and employees.

Exit Strategy

WIT: A sly way to leave an awkward party.

WIM: A business strategy for “getting out.” This could be selling to another company, going “public,” or passing hands in ownership and equity.


WIT: Someone who began something… like our country.

WIM: A person or persons who began a company. If there were multiple individuals who began a company they are called “co-founders.” “Partners” typically join once the company is in existence.

Intellectual Property

WIT: Anything I write in my journal that is smart and for which I will be remembered. My critical analyses of literature. My art.

WIM: Anything created by the individuals of a company for the company. Typically, employees, founders and partners are required to sign a release of intellectual property that secures company ownership of anything created for the company. (Prevents intellectual theft.)

Low-Hanging Fruit

WIT: Some reference to male genitals… or simply fruit on a tree.

WIM: An “easy to capture” opportunity, easy customer base, or initial market.

Non-Disclosure Agreement

WIT: A secret pact that maybe requires the pricking of thumbs and pressing them together.

WIM: Basically, that. It is an agreement that certain business details will not be shared by first and second parties for a specific amount of time.

Pitch Deck

WIT: A game where one folds a deck of cards and let’s them fly all around the room to see who can get a card in the farthest corner.

WIM: A PowerPoint or slide that details the problem and solution the business is solving, business model, prospective market, and team.

Seed Round

WIT: The process of a seed… I don’t know… being a seed. Haha. That sounds ridiculous.

WIM: The intial funding for starting a business. Sometimes this comes from the founders, their close relatives and friends, and acquaintances. Often this is provided by Angel investors.


WIT: When the line goes up on an Excel graph.

WIM: How much your company is worth. There is pre-funding and post-funding valuation, but you mainly need to know it refers to company worth.

Vesting Period

WIT: The amount of time one can wear a vest in public without looking like a walking advertisement for the 80’s.

WIM: The amount of time an employee must wait before exercising any equity agreements. (This is typically two years after the hired date. I will discuss this more in my next post about interviewing with a startup…. you definitely need to understand equity and vesting if you are thinking of joining a startup.)

Now you should be all set to impress your friends and family with your startup lingo. Be sure to stay tuned and check out my next post for a few things to keep in mind when interviewing with a startup!

Do you find similar confusion in senior living terminology? If so, let’s hear from you.

By: Reagan Reynolds

Reagan Reynolds

Written by Reagan Reynolds

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