This is a guest post by Adam Fletcher, owner of The Hipstery, the strangest startup in Berlin. He is also the author of the book A Picnic For Perverts. You should get a copy right now or he’ll kill a puppy.
In the beginning, there were Hipsters and there were Startups. The two may have met occasionally, at gallery openings or vegan cafes, but largely their worlds stayed separated by the ideological belief of Hipsters that capitalism was bad and making money was for “sell outs”.
But internet power has shifted away from big business – some companies that had never made a dollar are being sold for a billion. Hipsters repositioned selling out. You didn’t have to work for “the man” any more… now you could do a startup. It could even be lean, like your waistline. As a result, two worlds collided. The world of the hipsters and the world of startups. Startups weren’t founded by polo-shirt and chino wearing ex-Microsoft executives any more. They could make games involving dancing hippos or apps that track how many times you eat the same sandwich. Fun stuff.
So, a new fusion personality formed: the Startup Hipster – or Stipster. Berlin is the undisputed world capital of Stipsters. Our cheap rents, our laughably good quality of life, our abundance of vegan cafes, our close proximity to the Club Mate factory, it’s all combined into the most fertile Stipster breeding ground seen since San Francisco or Tel Aviv.
Are you a Startup Hipster (Stipster)? Calibrate yourself against these 9 signs of Stipsterdom…
1. You are Scandinavian/ You dream of being Scandinavian
In the old days Internet companies were started by Americans. We Europeans just used them and were happy that they let us. That was the natural order of things. But having an American founder is too mainstream for the Stipster startup. Plus, they are prone to overuse positive adjectives, which while awesome, tends to rub us moody Europeans up the wrong way.
We needed a new hero. Enter Scandinavians. Scandinavians appeal to Hipsters because they are beautiful, which makes them look great in striped V-necks and press photos; smart, as they speak five languages, and they regularly win those best country polls on quality of life and education, but crucially, they are also a little aloof and mysterious. They also regularly sport killer moustaches. Plus weren’t the founders of Skype Scandinavian? Somewhere around there anyway. Definitely a cold country, with elk.
2. You have to say your startup’s name 44 times before anyone can successfully repeat it back to you
Damn you lousy domain squatters! Because you have made internet real estate harder to get hold of than Berlin Mitte real estate, Stipsters have been forced in taking tongue busting names like janfandologic(.)ly for their new online cupcake customisation services.
3. You use the word social at least 15 times a day
A true Stipster understands that for any business to succeed it must be “social”. Exactly what “social” means, Stipsters aren’t sure, but it probably involves a crude Frankensteining of Twitter, Quora, Facebook and cats that look like Hitler.
Wrong. Social is not some secret cash cow that’s been hidden at the back of the garden that no-one thought to milk until 2008. As Douglas Adams once said: “We don’t need a special word for interactivity in the same way that we don’t need a special word for people with only one head.”
The same applies to the word “social”. Human are inherently social. It is the core of our species. It is not a feature. It is not an add-on. It is not a business model. Please stop molesting this word.
4. Your startup has offices at a co-working space
Why work in comfortable, private silence when you can share a big room with dozens of strangers! They won’t be strangers for long of course, they’ll regularly stop by to pitch you their latest e-pyramid scheme and you’ll never have to sit on beanbags or play kicker alone again.
5. You pivot five times before breakfast
Formerly an expression for changing business model or focus, but now nearly as over-used as “social”. Sometimes, if I’m talking to some guy at a party and he’s boring me about his new social location discovery farming apps FarmMemePinFace.ly, I’ll just shout “pivot” right in his face before turning to speak to someone else or going outside to smoke whilst looking serious and very far into the distance.
In the old days the business model was the engine that drove the car of success. Critical and central. If that part didn’t work, you didn’t get anywhere. Stipsters realised that engines, like business models, are complex and hard to get right. So they stripped that engine out. Now the Stipster car of success runs on regular funding round injections. Business model? Meh, they are more like those fun car accessories to be added later, like fluffy dice or novelty Jesus air fresheners.
6. Your startup is built on Ruby on Rails
There’s only so long you can be losing the war before it’s polite to surrender. All non RoR programmers RETRAIN!!!!!!!!! No-one cares about your old dinosaur programming languages. If your site is not built on RoR rip it up and rebuild it right now.
Why? Well, firstly, David Heinemeier Hansson. Secondly, erm, just because! Stipster Internet has spoken and it will speak only RoR from now on.
7. Your startup puts stickers in toilets
Toilets were formerly a place of function and illicit drug consumption. Now they’re a giant smelly indoor billboard for the latest witticisms of that hot new Stipster startups. If I only see you while I pee, I’ll associate you with my pee. Do you want that? Really? Come on, get creative in your Stipster marketing, tattoo your foreheads, fly a blimp over the Görli park, or, failing all else, just get naked like these guys.
8. Your startup uses its name as a verb
Previously it was a sign of great respect when your company became so successful and ubiquitous, it became a verb in its own right, like to “Google” or “Stumble” something. Waiting for success is lame and spectacularly unlucrative. These days any self-respecting Stipster startup will design their service to make them a verb from the very beginning. Amen.
9. Your startup has more interns than employees
Stipsters understand the importance of a decentralised company structure, facilitating regular pivoting. As a result, a true Stipster startup should consist of only two levels of hierarchy:
Remember: don’t pay your interns, you’ll spoil them. Soon they’ll want a whole host of other unreasonable benefits like job security. If they threaten to quit give them a fancy title, one that starts with Chief or VP. Like Inception, it’s not uncommon for a Stipster Startup to take interning to a meta level, where people are interning for the chance to intern for the chance of a permanent intern position.
So how did you do folks? Let us know your Stipster score in the comments…
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