“That’s where it all started. It was the first device I had that got me into computers, tech, coding, and that whole world”, Eamonn Carey, co-author of The Startup Lexicon, says.
He’s talking about the retro Sinclair Spectrum computer which kickstarted his passion for technology – and it still holds pride of place in Eamonn’s office as he digs it out to show me on a Google Hangouts call.
“It’s just nice to look at it every now and then. I mean, the strap on my watch probably has more computing power than that does, but it’s a nice reminder of how far we’ve come from my living room in the mid-1980s to now – a computer on my watch, a computer in my ears, a computer in my pocket – it’s good to remember where it all came from, and where the discipline of learning about code, the execution of code and what’s good and what’s bad, where all of that came from,” Eamonn explains.
The Start-up Lexicon is a book full of information and wisdom that its authors – one of whom being Eamonn and the other being Ken Valledy – have put together in a smart way that pretty much anyone can digest and get value from.
Tech is obviously one of the key focuses of The Startup Lexicon, which provides an A-to-W rundown of some of the key terms to know that many founders, journalists, and those interested in the world of start-ups should be familiar with. So, I’m interested to hear how Eamonn and Ken found the challenge of trying to distil the main ‘T’ word in the book – tech – down to a bitesize chunk, without being reductive (something they manage to do very well).
“It effectively has its own meaning for everyone who reads the word. There are people who believe that tech has to actually involve hard technology and hard technical problems to solve, etc. I think there’s another group of people who – and I’m one of them – who believes that tech is that, but also everything else that is enabled by technology,” Eamonn says.
“It’s hard to tie down a very specific definition for it, because I think regardless of who you talk to, everyone has their own view, and some people’s views are more definitive in their minds than others’.”
The Startup Lexicon is chock-full of so many terms, but Eamonn and Ken were keen to not simply cobble together an extended listicle of a book. Instead, they’ve interspersed some of the book with additions that include a little bit of commentary and storytelling to complement the matter-of-fact content.
And of course, owing to the ever-evolving nature of tech, start-ups, and the world we live in, there are always going to be new words, novel acronyms, and interesting ideas that need to be understood and defined.
The Startup Lexicon does a fantastic job of including many of the words founders need to know, but also many others that have only started to become more commonplace in recent times, such as Web3, blockchain, and crypto.
“Particularly in the Web3 or crypto world, a lot of stuff was starting to creep out. So, yes, almost everyone I know who’s bought a copy has come back to me and said ‘I can’t believe you don’t have soonicorn in there’…so, I think the language is always going to evolve.
“One of the reasons the start-up or technology world has such a complicated set of language associated with it is because it’s at this intersection of technology and finance, both of which have relatively complex phrases and lexicons of their own, but also both of which love an acronym or some way of making people feel like outsiders.”
The book certainly attempts to solve that problem by demystifying the type of language that the start-up world is inundated with, and it does a great job of doing so, too.
It’s going down well with readers, too – and not just because Eamonn is a recognised leader in the start-up world as an investor, founder, and former Managing Director of TechStars London.
“I talked to a guy at a wedding recently – he was a lawyer, and he knew someone I knew so they’d recommended the book, and he bought it, and he said ‘we’re junior lawyers working with start-ups every day of the week who don’t have a breeze what’s going on, so I’m going to buy a copy of this book’…so, I think there are a lot of people who are interested in this world and have maybe found it a bit mysterious and a bit hard to understand, so hopefully the book opens a few doors for them.”
You can pick up a copy of The Start-up Lexicon in most good book shops – or you can grab it on Amazon.
By Trevor Murray