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Seven hacks to become a Startup Groupie

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Simple hacks that’ll transform you from a startup n00b to a glitzy startup groupie….

Like many others, one of my key goals a couple of years back was to get into this whole startup festivity. It was happening all around me on social media and I felt rather lonely not being a part of it. If you are busy earning a living, enjoying life or just plain chilling out in life, it is easy to miss out. The result: You end up sounding hopelessly uncool.

Don’t worry! After spending many thousands of seconds, I’ve prepared the ultimate hack that will get you speaking startupese and provide an instant entry into this world.

So read carefully, peeps.

1. Metrics + Buzzwords = Instant Credibility

The devil, as they say, is in the metrics (unless you are one of those guys who believe that the devil is in the VCs). Startup metrics are like that password to unlock your entry into this club. Speak the right one at the right time and you will be waltzing in in no time.

They don’t even need to make sense. In fact, the more obtuse they are, the better. You’ll just have all the others debating it all night.

Here are some evergreen metrics you can plugin instantly when making a statement:

You can keep adding more to your repertoire as you progress. New ones are being manufactured all the time.

Also, mix and match them for maximum impact. A handy set of nouns, verbs and adjectives to slap on is helpful. A sampling of some of those: Scale, Bubble, Disruption, Rockstar, “Uber of x”, “x meets y”, “Hyperlocal” etc.

Examples:

While MiqiMauz has good traction, the unit economics just doesn’t make sense.

MiqiMauz is the Uber of Retired-Celebrity-Rodent-Entertainment.

While its traction is good, how will this be scaleable given the current blended CAC?

2. Follow the money trail

Startups are newsworthy only during certain points in their life-cycle. It goes like this:

Early on, some one naively reports about a unfunded startup doing some exciting stuff. After shaking their head at the momentary lapse of reason, they forget about it until the cash registers jingle again.

Fame then spikes during the initial funding round. A longish story is contrived at this point on the deeper universal need that the founder had identified when he began this quest. At this point if you know someone working here or perhaps even the founder, it may be a good time to turn evangelist. At a bare minimum, put out a “ I am so proud of you xxxx”. It shows that you are in the inner circle of this cool emergent thing.

After that, startups are mostly left along only to be revived in pop-culture when the next funding round happens. And boy, that’s probably going to be big. Stay vigilant on the money trail. There are several platforms dedicated to just reporting about money changing hands. Once you get to know about money changing hands insert yourself into the narrative somehow.

3. Find your sorority

Finding your sorority is super critical. But it’s fairly straightforward. Here’s a comprehensive chart to help you out.

Once you find it, stick to it like a leech. If you are like 90% others who talk about startups and have nothing to do with building one, you are a groupie and you get to pick any sorority you want. Once you do, become an echo chamber for their thoughts. There may be sorority celebrities. Find them, follow them and repeat after them. Instant cult in.

4. Get your Hate on

This is a tricky one. But if you want to be seen as a nuanced groupie these days, you need to get your hate on. Like big time. Pick from any of the common themes ranging from ‘these computer startups’ (recommended only if you more than 50 years old) to ‘the large, evil VCs’, ‘fucked up ecosystem’, ‘big well-funded, evil startup’, ‘these two-bit founders’, ‘paid media’ etc.

Go on social media rants (Recommend a minimum of 8 message rant on twitter). Build a cult. That’s your brand image — the hard, no-nonsense, critical groupie. Be anti-funding. Be anti-money. These unsustainable business models. You will soon have built your own echo chamber that feeds more hate back to you.

Hate scales well these days. Ask Donald Trump! Be careful though. At some point, you starts sounding like a sore loser though.

5. Blitz those startup events

This is a great way to sound like you are really part of the club. Why, in fact, this is the very purpose of these events — to help the groupies feel included. So, don’t miss them. Attend as many as you possibly can, even more than one at the same time.

It helps to amp things up a day or two in advance. For instance, you could tweet this the morning before the event,

“Having a great morning shit right now. Feel excited about tomorrow’s #TechLightning event”

for instance.

And then later,

“Wow, the sandwich I just had looked like the #TechLightning logo. I must be really psyched!”

Selfies. They are very very important at these events. Take as many as you can with the celebrities there. Also, keep tweeting something — just don’t forget the hashtag.

6. Question the business model

Ok, so this is an instantly easy one to make you sound really smart on this whole startup scene. Imagine, you are in a bar. All of your friends suddenly seem to be talking with giddy energy on a new startup and what’s happening there. Some of them are looking for a job. Some are connected to someone who knows someone who used to work with the founder. Whatever, you get the idea.

Wait quietly for the group to work itself to a frenzy about it and then you drop this bombshell, “Oh, but I am not too sure about their business model. It feels flaky” or something to that effect. Most often than not, everyone will pause. And then they begin to slowly nod in somber seriousness. Bam! Instant expert look achieved. If by chance someone dares question, loop back to Step #1.

7. Get your tag right

Merely talking about startups and sounding right isn’t sufficient. You need to get your calling card right. Unless you are actually building a worthy startup and have an important role in it (like founding it), you actually don’t have a real tag. So explore the range of available pseudo tags available. Most popular ones in the market is: “Startup Enthusiast”. But you could also use vague terms like “Explorer”, “Dreamer” or “Builder”. If you want to look exclusive and cheeky, you could use something that sounds like this:

“Another confused soul planting the seeds in the fields of India’s startup story”

Know more such hacks? Let me know in the comments 🙂

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