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Jargon Buster – A Dummies Guide to 8 Common Tech Terms

We recently created a white paper on the next generation of UK unicorns and we had lots of comments that this term was new to many people. So, to save you reaching for your thesaurus or jumping on Google, I’ve chosen eight popular tech start up terms and worked up some helpful definitions.  

Unicorn – what has this mythical one horned creature to do with business?

The term ‘Unicorn’ has appeared recently to refer to high growth, privately owned businesses. GP Bullhound defines the term as ‘a private tech company that has started since 2000 and would be worth $1bn or more if it was sold or floated right now’. 

Traditionally the US was the natural habitat for the Unicorn with the likes of Facebook, Uber and Snapchat, but Europe is getting in on the act with Sweden leading the way with the likes of Spotify and Skype. The UK currently has 17 unicorns including SkyScanner and the North West’s

Foal – you can probably guess this one now!

Yes, you guessed it, a foal is a baby unicorn!  In other words GP Bullhound define it as a company that could be worth more than $1bn in the next 12 months.  They have identified several North West companies as fitting this criteria, including Zuto, Missguided and On The Beach.  This list shows that the North West is becoming a serious player in the tech world, which can only be good news for the ambitions of the Northern Powerhouse.

Northern Powerhouse – where did the term come from and what does it actually mean?

George Osborne first used the phrase in his ‘We need a northern powerhouse’ speech on 23 June 2014 at the Museum of Science and Industry, Manchester and it’s been a key topic for the party ever since.

The term refers to rebalancing the economy by encouraging growth outside of London, specifically in the Northern cities to unite these cities into a ‘Northern Powerhouse’.  Part of the strategy is to improve transport links both with the capital and between the major northern cities so that they can use their combined strength to create a strong economic force.

The cities identified as making up the North Powerhouse are Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, Sheffield, Hull and the North East. Some have complained that Manchester seems to have been the focus of much of the coverage, as it has a higher population than the other cities and more jobs. However, Osborne has been keen to stress that it is not just about Manchester, though Manchester is the first to see tangible change with a devolution deal and an elected mayor.

Fast Fashion – North West business are dominating this sector, but what does it mean?

The Northwest is becoming a hub for growing fast fashion retailers with Unicorn potentials Missguided and Boohoo leading the way, but what do we actually mean by ‘Fast Fashion’?

The term refers to low cost clothing retailers who are able to stock new fashion trends, seen on the catwalk and in luxury retailers, very quickly and cheaply.  They often introduce new lines on a weekly rather than seasonal basis. It is sometimes referred to as ‘disposable fashion’ as it is designed to be worn for a relatively short period and then replaced by the next trend.

The consumers of fast fashion are generally young and fashion conscious, with a limited amount of disposable income.

Bootstrap – taken from the phrase ‘pull yourself up by your bootstraps’

Bootstrap is a situation in which an entrepreneur starts a company with little capital. An individual is said to be boot strapping when he or she attempts to found and build a company from personal finances or from the operating revenues of the new company.

Compared to using venture capital, boot strapping can be beneficial as the entrepreneur is able to maintain control over all decisions.  A jargon free alternative is ‘self-funded’, but nowhere near as interesting!

Fintech – could it be something to do with Financial Technology?

Fintech refers to an emerging sector of companies who use technology to make financial services more efficient. They are generally startups founded to disrupt existing financial systems and corporations that rely less on software. Technology includes mobile payment systems, crowd sourcing and even crypto-currencies like bitcoin.

Ecosystem – nothing to do with microscopic organisms!

In a business context this is the network of organisations, including suppliers, distributors, customers, competitors and government agencies, involved in the delivery of a specific product or service through both competition and cooperation. The idea is that each business in the "ecosystem" affects and is affected by the others, creating a constantly evolving relationship in which each business must be flexible and adaptable in order to survive, as in a biological ecosystem.

Sweat Equity – no trips to the gym required …

This term refers to the practice of giving shares in a company in exchange for work done, often at a reduced rate. This can be a great way for an organisation to attract great talent who are passionate and believe in the business, particularly if they can’t afford to pay market rates.

Forward Role Recruitment are an owner managed business, recruiting for major brands in the North of England.  We recruited’s senior marketing team pre-IPO to help drive them to Unicorn status and also work with over half of the ‘Foals’ identified by GP Bullhound. So, if you would like our help or advice on how to find talent to help build the next North West Unicorn, then contact Steve Thompson on 0161 914 8499. 


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