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10 over-used buzzwords for start-ups

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Louis Bedigian, over at Forbes’s “Benzinga Insights” writes about the 10 most over-used buzzwords in start-ups. Others chime in with theirs. But first Bedigian writes:

“Nobody really loves any buzzwords,” Michael Browning, director of MOBI and Bluefish Wireless, [said]. “In my opinion, commonly used terms graduate into buzzwords because they’re used so often in business that they lose all meaning. Instead, I love it when people speak clearly and showcase their own personality.”

“I don’t pay too much attention to these buzzwords,” adds 63 Squares founder Felipe Coimbra. “And usually when I hear people using [them] my BS alert goes off and I stop listening to what they’re saying.”

Coimbra said that he wonders “if everybody knows people are full of it when they use these words.”

But it’s not just buzzwords that are annoying the startup community. “All due respect to Steve Jobs, who made a huge difference in the world, but I don’t know that he needs to be quoted as often as he is,” said Ian Small, General Manager of Audiobooks.com.

Here are a few of Bedigian’s choices for the top 10.

Minimal Viable Product

“I think M.V.P. (Minimal Viable Product) is a good lean startup philosophy,” said Patrick Ambron, co-founder and CEO of BrandYourself. “[But it is] often abused and misinterpreted to mean ‘launch something half-assed or half-baked because the market will tell us how to make it better.’ Yes, you should launch something simple, but it still needs to be the very best at what it does. If it isn’t absolutely the best at accomplishing something, all you have on your hands is a minimal product no one will ever care about.”


“If you didn’t like the game, why did you even start playing?” Audiobooks.com’s Ian Small asks.

“Game-changer” also appeared on the overused startup buzzword lists from Billtrust’s Jim Kanir and Shadora’s Shoshanah Posner, who co-founded the site.

“A now-famous tweet from Josh Kopelman (of First Round Capital) states, ‘Too many Freemium models have too much ‘free’ and not enough ‘mium,’” said Chris Cope, founder of SlimWare Utilities. “This can apply to both your product attributes and your revenue model. For us, generating revenues and valuable data from our free users, as well as our paying users, was a great approach to this very common problem.”

Those who take this route, however, will learn that paying customers are a “much different breed than free users,” Cope explained. “Meeting paying customers’ needs is paramount and providing an amazing product or service to your free users can make them devoted advocates for your brand. Not knowing this is where I think a lot of ‘Freemium’ models fail. But balancing the two, and deriving value from both, is the hardest part.”


“I think it goes with saying that if you are involved with a startup (particularly the founder), you should be ‘passionate,’” said StreetID’s Jesse Marrus. “It is a very cliché word and if you aren’t “passionate,” you have no business working for a startup.”

Stealth Mode

“Stealth Mode: Generally used when describing a company or product without any useful public information about it,” said SlimWare Utilities’ Chris Cope. “If it is in ‘stealth mode,’ why am I reading about it on TechCrunch?”

Meanwhile, Jim Kanzir of Billtrust says that he avoids (among many others) these words:

  • viral
  • cutting edge
  • mission critical

For more on buzzwords and the ones to avoid, see the original post here: .

More stories about tech.

Photo credit: Jezper – Fotolia.com

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  • Cal

    I disagree with everything here. Bashing buzzwords is cliche and has been happening since the “dotbomb” “bubble” “burst.” It’s the same complaint I get for saving your time when I consolidate fifty words into two. “Obfuscate those details!” “Gamify!” “Ready fire aim!”

    You’re just complaining because buzz people have a talent for being concise and looking really cool when they do it. They take you on a whirlwind through their brilliant minds while they spin ideas that are too grand for you? 🙂 Please take me in jest, and I mean this all lightly, but let those buzz guys and gals buzz away, they are trying to simplify all of that brain soup into tolerable chunks for your consumption.