Two startup cliches I hate the most

The first step is always the hardest, admitting you have a problem. After chatting with hundreds  of entrepreneurs I am ready to admit we all have the same problem – we keep using the same clichés and they drive me crazy.

This may be the beginning of a series of posts on clichés, but these are my two least favorite ones.

1. “Dude, we are killin’ it”

There are two stories I hear on a day-to-day basis. From non-entrepreneurs I hear about how there is a funding crunch and many seed-stage startups are not getting enough traction.   From entrepreneurs I hear about how everyone is “killin’ it”. I’m not sure what to believe, but like most things it probably falls somewhere in the middle.

I don’t know who coined the expression “killin’ it” but I definitely understand why founders say it. As a founder of a company your public face has to always be positive. You want everyone to believe that there is no possible way things could be going better. But as Y Combinator partner Harj Taggar points out, one of the most important things he has learned about startups is how broken they are.

I’m not advocating for sharing doomsday scenarios, or every gritty detail, but maybe we can stop telling people we are “killin’ it”? The one thing I have noticed for sure is that when people really are killin’ it – they don’t have to say it.


2. “We are in stealth mode”

How many of you have had interactions like this?

“Hey I’m Neil, great to meet you. I’m a co-founder of ReelSurfer and we are helping turn content consumers into creators. What are you working on?”

“We are actually in stealth mode right now, but it’s in the mobile space.”

Is there anything that kills a conversation faster? I get it, when we were first starting ReelSurfer we wondered if people were going to “steal our idea.” The truth is until you start “killin’ it” (just kidding) the only people that actually care about your startup are your team, family, and early users (we love you guys)!

In fact, I’ve noticed that people are so busy with their own lives/ products that even if they love your idea, they don’t have time to copy you. I’m not sure who said it, but here is a good way to look at it:

If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange apples then you and I will still each have one apple. But if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas.

Share your idea with anyone who will listen. Our idea has evolved so much because we have been open with people that are smarter than us.

Thanks for reading and to continue the discussion you can contact me on twitter. Just please, don’t start with these phrases.

3 Replies to “Two startup cliches I hate the most”

  1. i agree, if your killing it, you dont have to say so..

    startups are not easy, and only the diligent, focused, determined, motivated, persistent people prevail.

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