“Hackathon” “M.V.P” “Iteration” “Disrupt” “Agile” “Growth Hacking” “Change Agent” “Synergy”…
Every industry has its jargon, but let’s get real, the startup space has a lot of them.
But these buzzwords not only make eyes roll to the back of the head, some people in New Brunswick’s startup scene say this kind of language is deterring more people from getting involved in startup events.
“As part of the Startup Task Force here in Fredericton, a lot of the conversation has been around how do we get more people to attend our events that aren’t the regular people we are used to seeing every single time,” says Erin Flood, chair of the Startup Fredericton Task Force.
“While it’s really great to network with them and it’s always helpful to have that community to bounce ideas off of and get support from, it’s always good to bring in new people and new fresh perspectives and entrepreneurs into the group.”
Flood works out of Fredericton’s The Ville Cooperative, where she meets people every day taking part in its community programs and offerings. She says a lot of them are organizers looking to participate in startup and entrepreneurship events. The problem is many of these people didn’t think they could.
“When they tell me about what they do for fun, which is sometimes things like building a solar panel lighting system out in Belleisle Bay, it wouldn’t even cross their minds that would be considered something that would fit within the realm of being an entrepreneur,” says Flood.
But the disconnect isn’t just with people with cool hobbies. Flood says some people actually working in business in the province don’t consider themselves entrepreneurs, often citing they thought they need to be a “tech company” to be worthy of such a title.
“Small businesses, whether they be brick and mortar or freelancers, are surprised when they’re being celebrated during Entrepreneur Week, because they have no idea they could be considered an entrepreneur,” says Flood.
“I think there is that strange perception around tech companies that come with the word entrepreneur and specifically startups.”
Flood says this perception can largely be attributed to the fact that it’s successful tech companies that dominated the narrative in the media and startup communities.
“I think its a problem for startup communities on the global stage because we decided on this set of language for startups that are operating within tech,” she says. “I think you can almost argue that it started out of the Silicon Valley with Facebook and Twitter and all those big tech companies, they started that set of language and we all latched on.”
So how do we change this?
Flood says it comes down to people in the startup and entrepreneurship community stepping outside their bubble to have conversations with these new people they want to include in events.
“It needs to be more of a dialogue rather than us dictating these terms on our own. We make too many assumptions,” she says. “We need to work on breaking assumptions that everyone knows what an MVP is, or a CAC is, because that’s when I think we miss out on all of those external opportunities.”
“I think people who are looking to grow the startup and entrepreneur community for economic purposes or are just passionate about growing the region need to step outside traditional boundaries and listen. I think that’s where we need to start.”
In case you’re wondering, “MVP” is Minimum Viable Product and “CAC” is Cost to Acquire Customer.