A Startup is [1] a new business [2] selling a single service or product [3] with the ability to scale rapidly.
— Brandon T. Luong

A popular misconception of startups is that to be considered one, it must be tech related. It’s easier to describe the criteria of a startup by associating it to technology as it has received the most glamour from the media in recent years. According to Neil Blumenthal, co-founder and co-CEO of Warby Parker, “ A startup is a company working to solve a problem where the solution is not obvious and success if not guaranteed.”

The problem with this statement is that a) solving a problem can be ambiguous as the product may not a solution but rather an alternative to lessen the problem, and b) sounds like poor market research and validation if success is not guaranteed. I would also include poor leadership and timing to that last part. I see it more like:

A Startup is [1] a new business [2] selling a single service or product [3] with the ability to scale rapidly.

1. A new business. 

This means it is new and in its early stages. Can you be considered a startup if you have been around for 9 years? It’s similar when people say their baby is 42 months old; it’s a toddler now.

2. Selling a single service or product.

 One common characteristics of a startup is they sell one type of service or product to their customer. It’s not a startup if they are offering multiple services to a client.

3. Ability to scale rapidly. 

One of the most crucial part as a startup should have the ability to scale its product from 26 customers to 20,601 in a short period. Something like this is difficult to achieve if it relies on very limited and specific resources.


Any company can embrace the startup culture and mentality as it sees fits, but remember it doesn't mean you're a startup. Samsung, Apple, Pwc, Booz Allen & Hamilton and other Fortune 500 and agencies all promote innovation and startup culture, yet they don’t claim to be a startup themselves.

A startup does not have to be techie nor embrace all lean startup methodology. Take the Minimum Lovable Product approach for example. This isn’t a video game; you have unlimited customization to choose from.

Examples of a startup include:

  • Food product
  • Gardening tool
  • Media business
  • Flower delivery
  • Some of those stupid things on QVC and Shark Tank

Do you agree or disagree w/ Brandon's definition of a startup? Tweet your thoughts to @genYize @BrandonTLuong. 

More on Startups: 

AuthorBrandon T. Luong