The following answers are provided by members of the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, the YEC recently launched #StartupLab, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses via live video chats, an expert content library and email lessons.
What’s one so-called startup “trend” you can’t wait to see GO AWAY ASAP, and why? (Be specific about the what and why, please.)
1. Made-Up Titles
I can’t wait to see terms like “growth hacker” go away because they don’t make any sense. A “growth hacker” is simply a data/analytics person, a role that has been around for years and years. Startup folks love to make up new titles for decades-old roles every few years.
– Tim Jahn, matchist
I’ll admit that when we changed our logo to the lobster font over a year ago, I loved it. We hired a designer on 99designs for a new logo. The whole team loved it. We trashed the fancy logos.
Now, I see lobster font everywhere, both in print and online. It seems like every new startup is putting its logo in lobster. It’s practically a startup meme. In fact, we made a website
(http://f***yeahlobster.tumblr.com/) — replace the ***– to track the deployment of lobster font around the Internet and Bay Area!
Launch parties make you a joke in my book. I’m not talking about launch events, like conferences or even self-hosted events to attract your target market to your company as part of a launch strategy. I’m talking about parties that celebrate a company launching its product. Seriously? You couldn’t find something smarter to do than burn up a cash bar? I never root against entrepreneurs but, if I started, these are the ones I’d pick first.
– Derek Shanahan, Playerize
A startup “pivot,” popularized by Eric Ries and the Lean Startup model, has many meanings. Most frequently, a “pivot” is a change in your business model, a strategic move that a company makes after lots of experimentation and customer feedback.
Many companies seem to use the term as a badge of honor: “Yes, we have tested and listened to customers! We’re a lean startup!” Too often, however, the company has only made a small shift in a small part of the business. Changing an email template is not a pivot. Nor is rearranging a customer service flow. Change your business, then own your pivot!
I am a proponent of entrepreneurs sharing ideas and bouncing ideas off each other. I’m not a fan of mastermind groups that charge a $20,000 entry fee and appear to be more about ego than real idea-sharing. I’ve seen a trend lately of entrepreneurs talking about what mastermind groups they are in before they discuss which companies they work on. I don’t think that’s a positive trend.
– Kelsey Meyer, Influence & Co.
“So, do you have an app?” is always one of the top three questions off the bat at any “entrepreneurial” or “startup” networking event. The minute it becomes apparent that I have nothing to do with apps (and that I happen to be tech illiterate!), it’s as if I told the Mean Girls to add me to the Burn Book. The last time I checked, the $10 million consumers spent on ‘ZinePaks in 2012 outweighed the 10,000 people who downloaded your app in the last year. Don’t be so quick to discount something that doesn’t come from the App Store.
– Kim Kaupe, ‘ZinePak
As an entrepreneur at business school, the first question my classmates always ask is “how much have you raised!?” as if success is tied to funding amount. \I hope people quickly realize that raising a lot of money doesn’t equal success, rather, that success should be judged by an amazing product, market demand, a strong brand and a great team.
– Kit Hickey, Ministry of Supply
The trend of establishing a BYOD (bring your own device) policy at a business should probably just go away. It’s debatable whether it makes employees more productive, and it can cause plenty of security issues. You also run the risk of overloading your IT department, as well as alienating older staff members who may not want to buy a mobile device just to comply with the policy.
– Andrew Schrage, Money Crashers Personal Finance
Plenty of startups are founded with the goal of a short-term exit. I’m not necessarily against looking for exit opportunities for a new company, but if that’s your only plan — starting a new company, just to sell it off within a few months or a year — you’re doing it wrong. Even assuming that you can be sure you’re building something that another company will want to purchase, the attitude that you’re not in it for the long haul can make it hard to create a quality company worth selling.
– Thursday Bram, Hyper Modern Consulting
10. Mashup Descriptions
I’d love to see people stop describing their startups in terms of other companies. I cringe when I hear things like “It’s Yelp meets LinkedIn, with a twist of Airbnb running cloud-based apps on AWS.” Find a simple way to describe what you do, nicely and elegantly. Latching on to successful companies is not a recipe for success, and it’s more likely to confuse people.
– Anderson Schoenrock, ScanDigital