I can tell quite a bit about a culture by looking for concepts that have no word to describe them. "Fernweh" is a German word to describe a feeling of homesickness for a place you've never been. This notion is appropriate when considering the definition of a start-up that is not seeking venture funding. What term do we use to accurately describe the greater than 98% of early-stage companies that do not seek nor receive venture funding? Would a single word be enough to reflect their differences?
In designing the curriculum for The Kindred Challenge, we have attempted to be cognizant of the differences between early-stage companies. In discussing those differences we noticed that we have been talking in sentences rather than words when attempting to describe the types of companies that exhibit collections of traits. We've been pulling on this string for a while now.
Consider a strict definition for each of the following types of companies: (i) a small business, (ii) an innovative small business, (iii) a revenue-seeking start-up, (iv) a start-up. Each type has its own set of resource needs and potential. Each has a different relationship with its founders.
We've embarked on a long-term primary research effort to better define the traits that define each type of the early-stage ventures above. We believe this is important; an entrepreneur who does not know just who they are has less chance to make it where they want to go. If you are an entrepreneur involved in an early-stage company, take our survey. We will share with you our results. What's your journey going to look like? Best to understand from where you're starting, no?
I'll finish by saying that when I look at these fledgling definitions I have a strong sense of Fernweh.