1. How many people do you employ?
(a) Erm, just me
(b) Five, but we’ll be eight soon
(c) I’ll have to call the Paris office and find out
2. Is your business:
(a) a user experience consultancy, design studio or app developer?
(b) a rapidly-scaling product-focused web company
(c) a multi-national media brand on the brink of an anti-trust lawsuit
3. Where did your CEO go to university?
(c) What kind of limp-wristed pussy goes to university?
4. What do your revenues look like?
(a) Enough to pay for my comic book subscriptions
(b) Enough to get us through to the next funding round
(c) Enough to buy me a yacht
5. Is your cofounder:
(a) My dad
(b) Some guy I met at college with 1337 skillz
(c) Your dad
6. Who is your typical customer?
(a) Other start-ups
(b) Anyone dumb enough to believe our sales guys
(c) Anyone dumb enough to believe our sales guys
7. How much money have you raised?
(a) Idiot auntie Suz put a few grand in to get me started
(b) Idiot VC gave me £2 million
(c) Idiot public own shares
8. Where do you want to be living in five years?
(a) Anywhere but my parents’ basement
(b) A nice penthouse on the Thames
(c) On my jet, somewhere between Miami and Monaco
9. Do you drive?
(a) I have a one-speed bike
(b) I drive
(c) I am driven
10. Do you work on bank holidays?
(a) Of course not, mum cooks a roast
(b) Who doesn’t work on bank holidays?
(c) My PA works on bank holidays
If you answered mostly (a), then no, you are not a start-up. You are a douchebag with a shit idea. You probably rent a single desk at TechHub and tell your mum and dad that Pot Noodles are what everyone’s eating in Shoreditch right now. (That’s if you don’t still live with them.)
If you answered mostly (b), then well done: you are a start-up! And you can look forward to failing soon. But on the positive side, you are among the exceedingly small number of people who are actually putting skin in the game, trying to build something awesome. Congratulate yourself.
If you answered mostly (c), then no, you might have been a start-up once, but quit trying to hang with the cool kids into your dotage. Once you have your level of revenue and head-count, it’s time to stop rocking up to Silicon Drinkabout with that eager look in your eyes, like somebody’s tragic uncle. Remember, people are only talking to you because you settle the bar bill.