Give back the term "Startup" to Stephane

October 22, 2007   

I'm at Startup Camp NYC today and tomorrow and looking forward to hearing about startups, learning about startups, and talking about my startup. Plus, I'm considering entering the Best Startup Contest.

We all know what a "startup" is, right?

Well, gearing up for the event, I subscribed to the startup camp's wiki RSS feed to stay up to date. Tonight, as I refreshed my RSS reader (all startup founders know what that is, right?) I was pleased to see a new user profile come across the the wire for a guy named Stephane.

Stephane is the founder of Window Washing System. And we're not talking about MSFT Windows. We're talking about the millions of real windows - windows on every building in the industrialized world - windows which need to be washed and currently are washed manually and with a lot of risk to people doing the work. Anyway, Staphane, we learn through his profile, has developed a revolutionary way of cleaning windows. He has a startup. He posted on the startup camp wiki.

So what's my point? Besides the fact that I'm incredibly impressed with Stephane (and will send his video to every VC I know), I am also realizing that we tech geeks have totally hogged, squatted, and stolen the term "startup" with our our super-evil Google-tilting geek-skills.

Stephane probably signed up for Startup Camp thinking it would be a good place for him -- he has a startup, after all. But it's not that kind of startup! Our kind of startup has keynote speakers talking about cloud computing and coding to scale. Windows!?! Why would you build on that OS?!?

So while Stephane's startup has a patent, will be listening to one speaker at startup camp talking about "intellectual property" (because it's "cool" that our start-ups usually don't have physical property).

My problem isn't with our kind of startups, however, it's with the hogging, squatting, monopolizing, etc of a term which should be celebrated in all its forms.

So let's start giving the term "startup" back to Stephane and the other brilliant startuppers out there whose business plans deal with real windows, apples, widgets, and *books. I've gone ahead and changed my category "start-up" to "Web Startup" (because even "Tech Startup" steals meaning from other people). Should you too?

For me the best "other example" of this is with the term "objectivism" and "objectivists" which the Ayn Randians love to use. Sure, that's a great name for your approach, but could you leave that important term to the public trust?

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