Since we’ve launched we keep receiving plenty of feedback from members and folks in the startup scene. Thanks! Recently, a member posed an very valid challenge related to the meaning that the word “entrepreneur” has for different people, in different countries, cultures and so on. After all, we’ve called Startup Stay “The Entrepreneurs’ Travel Community”.
The challenge is that many people could associate the word with something they don’t like or consider themselves to be. We can therefore be missing out on some people that decide not to sign up. For instance, many freelance consultants, specialists or business owners work for themselves but see in the word “entrepreneur” a connotation of things like suits, a money-driven-mindset, you name it. The suggestion was ultimately that the tagline and message we convey could be changed to something more open towards people that “start” projects. We do like the concept of “people that start things” from day one. In fact, that is part of the reason that the verb “start” is included in our name. However, we feel we need to stick to defining ourselves as community for entrepreneurs only and here’s why…
One of the drivers behind Startup Stay is that we are witnessing how the perception of what constitutes being and entrepreneur is changing to something more casual and natural. As society provides less guarantees, more people are starting things because it simply makes sense to try. This is specially evident in young students that have just finished college and decide to start something instead of looking for a job. Even many universities are changing business course names to “entrepreneurship” and similar terms. In short, we believe that we will all gradually see a shift from a misled opinion of an entrepreneur being somewhat an opportunistic folk that one day “makes it” to a natural path for someone that has initiative.
Why did we then choose the word “entrepreneur”? Well, even if it’s not perfect it currently caters for a vast majority of the type people we want to connect with. Also, if our bet on the shift is right, then the word will become more embracing (and our community too). But this is all very subjective. In many ways, Startup Stay is a community experiment and our members will determine part of its future. When asking ourselves how to limit the access to entrepreneurs only, we quickly saw difficulties. A decision was then made to use objective criteria to invite a limited number of initial members by using our common sense as founders, choosing people who had some social proof online about entrepreneurial activity (e.g. links to a website describing a their startup, LinkedIn profile with entrepreneurial activity, Twitter conversations or profile, etc).
We continue approving new members daily, using the same criteria (online social proof of entrepreneurial activity). The beauty is in the member-to-member invitation experiment though. We ask each member to invite entrepreneurs they trust according to their own criteria. We can only ask and reiterate that it needs to be people that they trust but the meaning of “entrepreneur” belongs to and is defined by each person. There lies the experiment and the power of you, the member to contribute to the ever-changing definition of what an entrepreneur is.
What do you think?