What Constitutes a Startup?

I read an article in the Register today about a new hyper-converged appliance from Atlantis, written by Chris Mellor in his usual inimitable style.  What really got my attention was his description of Atlantis as a “startup”.  As they were founded in 2007, 8 years ago my friends, I started to wonder what constitutes a startup? I am sure Atlantis’ marketing peeps would not want to be considered a startup; if you’ve been in business for 8 years surely you’re more mature than that?  However, there are advantages to being labeled a startup in technology as it gives the impression to the reader you’re an innovator.  I have known of companies 10 years and older that have changed their strategy and product focused and re-christened themselves a startup because it suited their desire to be seen as innovative.  But if you’ve already received 4 rounds of funding, I really wouldn’t consider that a startup!

However, having researched the interweb for this post, I came across many definitions of startups; from dictionaries to business leaders but this is the one I prefer:

Early stage in the lifecycle of an enterprise where the entrepreneur moves from the idea stage to securing finance, laying down the basis of structure of the business and initiating operations or trading.

In reviewing the Atlantis HyperScale announcement, perhaps the term startup is appropriate for them in this instance; they’re taking a whole different direction and, perhaps, are entering the phase that the descriptor above defines?

Whatever your definition of a startup is, it is exciting to see the continued innovation – completely new or just re-cycled – in our industry today.