What is a startup?: our definition - Technical.ly Philly

Feb. 7, 2012 10:00 am

What is a startup?: our definition

Broadly, a startup is a new business that is testing plans for scalable revenue.

Turns out, despite the focus on them in technology news, there are lots of questions about what exactly a ‘startup‘ is.

Any new business might use the word as an adjective, but we at Technically Philly think we need a philosophy for what exactly constitutes a technology startup when we categorize and cover their work in the Philadelphia region.

Here’s our definition. Tell us what we’re missing.

  • Broadly, a startup is a new business that is testing plans for scalable revenue.

Though not always, a technology startup typically has these common traits (ultimately, the ‘startup’ concept is, particularly today, a state of mind that is driven by those who self-identify with that culture):

  • Fewer than 20 employees
  • Younger than three years
  • Seeking or have secured early-stage investment, especially angel and Series A.
  • Looking at scale of a product, rather than growth of a service
  • Led by initial founders who describe themselves as entrepreneurs
  • Focusing on disrupting existing processes through greater efficiencies
  • Often involves technology solutions to create efficiencies through product over service
Christopher Wink

Christopher Wink is a cofounder and Editorial Director of Technical.ly, the local technology news network. In that capacity, he is a co-organizer of Philly Tech Week, Baltimore Innovation Week, Delaware Innovation Week and other events that bring smart people together. Previously, Wink worked for a homeless advocacy nonprofit and was a freelance reporter for a variety of publications. He writes regularly about news innovation and best business practices on his personal blog here and curates a personal monthly newsletter of ideas and links here. The bicycle commuter loves cities, urban politics and squabbling about neighborhood boundaries.


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