What is the word for a person who sets up a new business / foundation, etc. Founder would be too basic and does not imply setting up the structure of the organization. Same for initiator? In Dutch we use quartermaster but I have not seen this in non-army context.

11 March: Interesting read and thanks for all the imput. Trailblazer or Groundbraker come close to what I’m trying to express. An entrepreneur invests in a company and mostly with the aim to make a profit.. Founder implies foundation only. Early or first employee implies an employment contract. The job I’m trying to describe - in one word - comes between founding / investing in a new enterprise / department and hiring regular staff – and is done on project basis mostly. You'd set up structure (organize the ‘line’ of admin, operations and finance) maybe look at the market in the broadest sense. Once organization frame of the enterprise / department is clear and set up, you’d not be involved anymore. You’d have done your job of ‘trailblazing’ ‘groundbraking ‘ ‘quarter making’ and move on to the next job.

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    Entrepreneur. From French.
    – Chloe
    Mar 10, 2015 at 20:21
  • Are you trying to differentiate between the person/people who start the business vs those who set it up? If not then founder would indeed be the right word. If so then I don't think such people are properly acknowledged in English (on both sides of the Atlantic) culture. The best I can come up with is early employee. Other than that it's job specific - first GM, first CEO, first COO, first CFO etc.
    – slebetman
    Mar 11, 2015 at 3:18
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    Why would founder be too basic? Mar 11, 2015 at 10:50
  • It sounds like the actual job description would be for "A managing director who specialises in startups". There isn't a single word for this AFAIK. Feb 7, 2018 at 12:40

9 Answers 9


If you are referring to the person who creates a new business, founder is the proper term. A founder may or may not be the person who sets up the whole structure. With that respect you may refer to the managers who, following the guidelines of the founder or co-founders help to establish the whole enterprise.


  • The person who creates an organization or a company is known as the founder.

  • As a noun, founder means "the beginner or originator of something." You might talk about the founder of a nation, the founder of club, or the founder of a website.


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    Of course, if the company failed, you'd call them a flounder.
    – terdon
    Mar 10, 2015 at 19:26
  • As a concrete example, Zuckerberg is described as CEO and Founder of Facebook. As far as I know, he did the initial coding himself. So it seems to fit the question perfectly.
    – user184130
    Aug 16, 2018 at 12:05

Often such a person is called an

n a person who organizes and manages an enterprise, esp. a business, usu. with considerable initiative.
[1875–80; < French: literally, one who undertakes (some task)

From thefreedictionaryonline


For those who insist that entrepreneur may not be used as a de facto title, I offer this usage breakdown of "the founder" vs. "the entrepreneur". The former still wins, but the relative trends point to "the entrepeur" as being currently on an intercepting path. The usual caveats regarding NGram usage apply, but this is at least evidence that there are not no cases where such a construction is used.

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    However, "entrepreneur" is a description, a personal characteristic, not a title or role. You wouldn't say, for example, "Robusto is the entrepreneur of our company" to describe him as the one who set up the business. To me, the OP is looking for the word "founder", but I'm guessing he can't use it because he wants to give a person credit who was not the founder, but was engaged in some other aspect of starting up the business (the special snowflake syndrome which is so prevalent on LinkedIn).
    – Dan Bron
    Mar 10, 2015 at 11:45
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    I don't see why you couldn't say that. You're being unnecessarily prescriptive.
    – Robusto
    Mar 10, 2015 at 11:49
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    Now you're being silly.
    – Robusto
    Mar 10, 2015 at 11:56
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    @Mari-LouA Yes, of course he was "an entrepreneur who", but he's certainly not "the entrepreneur of", as his father was "the founder of". As I said, the word "entrepreneur" is descriptive, and is often applied to persons who found companies (because such people are entrepreneurial, or intrepid), but it's not a title, which is what OP is seeking. I feel like my comment is being misconstrued (and frankly it makes me feel bad that users are upvoting a comment which is nothing but a three-word insult leveled at me), but maybe that's my fault; maybe I am being unclear.
    – Dan Bron
    Mar 10, 2015 at 13:24
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    An entrepreneur, as I understand it to mean, is often used to describe a businessman who sets up new and innovative companies. The person has initiative, drive and takes risks, such as Giovanni Agnelli, Howard Hughes etc. etc. I upvoted Robusto comment because you said: we could coin a brand new word for OP and assign it precisely his desired meaning. which is being silly IMO. And upvoting, downvoting is a form of free speech after all. I have had much worse (and hurtful) comments, but I have also expressed dissent and disagreements quite openly. I'm all for free speech.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Mar 10, 2015 at 13:56

Sometimes the term "architect" is used to imply both founder and designer of an enterprise, especially if the endeavor is sufficiently complex that some sort of construct is involved.

ar·chi·tect (är′kĭ-tĕkt′) n.

  1. One who designs and supervises the construction of buildings or other large structures.

  2. One that plans, devises, or organizes something: a country that was the war's chief architect.



Besides being called a "founding father", that person could be a groundbreaker.

  • founding father : who founds or establishes something.
  • someone who helps to open up a new line of research or technology or art ≡ pioneer, trailblazer↔conceiver, mastermind, originator - someone who creates new things.



"What is the word for a person who sets up a new business / foundation, etc."

The answer to this question lies in your definition of "sets up."

If by "sets up" you mean "files the appropriate paperwork with the state so that company is an official entity", then this person could be an accountant, attorney, secretary, administrative assistant, etc.

If you mean "provides initial funding to support the business" then this person could be an (angel) investor.

If you mean "envisions and executes the business strategy with direct and commensurate exposure to risk and reward", then you may be referring to an entrepreneur.


I'm inclined to go with the previous suggestions (founder seems like a fine word), but in some situations "creator" might be useful. One wouldn't say that Jim is the creator of IBM, for example, but you might say that someone was the creator of a program, a single-purpose startup, or similar. As an example, Maria Montessori was probably the "founder" of the first Montessori school, but might be the "creator" of the Montessori educational system.


One term that no one mentioned as far as I can tell is "Principal". That incorporates Founder and Manager, but it also quite formal.

  • Hello, suse. Please examine the standard of the format of the two most upvoted answers: references with links and attributions. Dec 8, 2019 at 22:55

Venturer and argonaut are a couple of interesting, related terms.


I’m not sure if this helps but I was looking for the same word you are - as I’m one of those people, and trying to figure out a way to describe myself in a professional manner to others. So I've been doing some research, and I think the term we’re both looking for is "right-hand-man/woman". Definition - very imortant assistant.

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    You believe that this is what the question is asking for?  You’re a hand?  Who’s the head and body?  You’re an assistant?  Assistant to whom?  I don’t see anything in the question that suggests that it is looking for a word for the second in command. Feb 7, 2018 at 14:23

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