Changing our mindset on startups

Are startups simply about innovation? Or should we start looking at them as businesses to invest in? In a world being inundated with startup competitions, accelerators and government initiatives, it’s time we change our mindset and re-evaluate how we describe these emerging ventures.It is also important as rarely more than ten percent of these startups survive beyond their initial investment.

Innovation has become synonymous with problem-solving, but is that the only goal startups strive for? Conversely, is innovation only about startups? Let’s challenge the traditional definition of a startup and explore why it’s important to change our language around them.


The traditional definition of a startup and its limitations


The traditional definition of a startup is often centred around its potential for disruptive innovation. We tend to associate startups with game-changing ideas and groundbreaking technologies that have the power to revolutionize industries. However, this narrow definition can be limiting and misleading.

By focusing solely on innovation, we neglect other crucial aspects of startups. It’s important to recognize that not all startups are driven by revolutionary ideas. Some simply aim to address existing market gaps or provide better solutions than what already exists.

Viewing startups exclusively as innovators overlooks their fundamental purpose – building sustainable businesses that generate revenue and create value for investors and stakeholders. Startups need funding, resources, and a solid business model to thrive in today’s competitive landscape.

Acknowledging these limitations in the traditional definition of a startup allows us to broaden our perspective and appreciate the diverse range of entrepreneurial ventures emerging worldwide. Embracing this shift in mindset enables us to evaluate startups based on their potential for success as businesses rather than their innovative prowess alone.

In doing so, we can foster an environment where entrepreneurship is valued not only for its ability to improve but also for its capacity to drive economic growth, job creation, and prosperity at large. Let’s redefine how we perceive startups – not only as vessels for innovation but as promising investments with immense potential.

This will also enable the true innovations – which can come from anywhere, not just a startup, to shine for the benefit of society and capture the necessary attention and funding that they so rightly deserve.



A more inclusive perspective


Many startups may not necessarily be pioneering new technologies or disrupting entire industries, but they still possess immense potential for growth and profitability.

The power lies in shifting our language and embracing a more inclusive perspective towards startups. Instead of solely highlighting their innovative nature, let’s consider them as promising investment opportunities with the potential for success in various ways. By broadening our language to include terms like “businesses” or “ventures,” we acknowledge the diverse range of goals and strategies that startups pursue.

This change in mindset allows us to appreciate the diversity within the startup ecosystem. It enables investors and entrepreneurs alike to recognise that funding a new business doesn’t always have to be driven by pure innovation alone. We should focus on supporting ventures with solid business models, strong teams, unique value propositions, scalability prospects, and sustainable growth plans to profitability.

Recognizing startups as businesses opens up opportunities for collaboration across sectors and industries. It encourages investors to consider a wider range of ventures beyond technological innovations. Startups in healthcare, education, sustainable development, and other fields also have immense potential for growth and impact.


Alternative terms to use


In our quest to change how we describe startups, it’s important to consider alternative terms that can help us shift our mindset. We can broaden our perspective and look at startups as potential businesses to invest in. By expanding the language we use, we open up new possibilities and opportunities for these emerging companies. This is also relevant when we look at investor levels -true innovation, which can evolve over many years,tends to lean more towards the private equity venture capitalists and,institutional investors due to sheer investment level required.

Some alternatives that could be considered:

  •  “promising ventures” -this phrase acknowledges the potential and promise that startups hold. It highlights their ability to grow and succeed in the market.
  • “emerging enterprises”-this emphasizes the dynamic nature of startups as they navigate through their early stages of development. It recognizes that these companies are actively emerging into the business world with fresh ideas and unique approaches.
  •  “game-changing endeavours”- highlighting the transformative nature of startups and emphasizing their ability to bring about positive change.

The above helps to recognise other aspects such as scalability, market viability, and long-term sustainability.


Examples of rebranding


There are plenty of successful companies that have embraced this new way of describing themselves. Take Airbnb, for example – they started off as a simple platform connecting people with spare rooms but eventually expanded into one of the largest hospitality brands globally. By not confining themselves strictly to being an innovator in accommodation services, they were able to tap into different markets and unlock phenomenal growth.

Another example is Netflix, which started off as a DVD-by-mail service before transforming itself into the leading streaming platform we know today. By adapting their business model and redefining themselves as a provider of online entertainment, Netflix successfully capitalized on the shift towards digital media consumption.



If we can change this language mindset we might be able to shine more light on some truly amazing innovations in areas such as healthcare & medicine, education, sustainable development and importantly science, that have long term beneficial impacts on society and are being missed by investors.