“Starting Up” vs “Start Up” – Knowing The Difference

Semantics can make a huge difference in general perception on how we present our business to Venture Capitals and the phrase “Start Up” is being used in many cases to achieve that. Especially when we see a huge number of budding Start Ups, the concern grows on why they are calling themselves a Start Up rather than a small company just starting up from scratch aka SMEs. This article only focuses on IT Start Ups, although some may relate to other industries as well.

There is nothing wrong in Starting Up a new business with a full proof plan to make profit but calling it a “Start Up” can be misleading to potential investors, especially if the business have no interest in experiments.


To be a start up you have to follow the Implement > Inspect > Adapt route, this is a must. You have to assume that you know much less about the emerging market like anyone else; you have to learn and adapt by Lean Experiments. When you are entering an unknown market of potential, you have no goals because you don’t even know what are you getting into, You as the founder is believing in your instinct and is prepared to get your hands dirty at any level.

If you already know your goal, you are NOT a Start Up.

Below are few ways you can differentiate and analyse if you are a start up or not before pitching yourself to investors.


A Start Up is –

  • A group of visionaries who believes that they can raise hell, if a chance is given.
  • A group of employees who is prepared to face the worst.
  • A family who follows a general rule – if we couldn’t raise hell, we will always get a second chance.
  • Believing that opportunities come only once, if you try to reach there using same formula.
  • A mindset, that they can never be 100% accurate and there will always be opportunities for something bigger.
  • Restless to a be the market leader and spend all money in growing business rather than treating yourself with profits. The moment a company starts making profits, they are not a Start Up anymore, doesn’t matter how small you are.
  • A Team who work smart at first to know what they want and then they work hard. If anyone says “Always work smart and not hard” – just remember the largest start ups will not be where they are now if they didn’t work hard. Working smart is necessary to establish a strategy, working hard is necessary to achieve that goal.
  • A group of Cunning Recruiters who don’t rely on traditional format of hiring. They hire Smart and Intelligent workforce and never call them a resource like most does. There is a subtle disrespect calling someone that.
  • A bunch of risk takers who believes in trying 100 times to get one success and 99 unsuccessful attempts. They never quit, if they do it is usually because the Investors have lost the patience. This doesn’t mean they failed as long as they create another start up with a completely different idea to try it out.
  • A team of expert customer focused members – Users are gods, doesn’t matter if their idea feels naive and stupid at times. Will they pay, if they have it? Really? Lets do it.
  • A Bunch of Socialites who wants to connect to users in any mean they can. Always keep a easily accessible customer support group where you encourage off topic chit chat to keep things engaged. Somewhat like in Sales industry where you do anything to keep them in the loop.


Image Credit: www.hnwmagazine.co.uk


SaaS/PaaS start ups usually keep their Roadmap as open as possible and changes are made frequently on demand where possible. If you call yourself a start up, make sure you don’t have a rigid product roadmap and changes are only made by user feedback, not by someone influential within the company. Anyone can suggest but they have to back their opinion with data to prove its viability.

Last but not the least, a start up is a big family who likes to do everything as they would do in personal life. They don’t see it as “work” as the reason they are here is because it is their personal interest to do something big, something which no one ever did, something they wants to be remembered for.

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