I see the phrase "started a start-up company" more and more these days, and feel that it is redundant, and the speaker is ignorant or using stock phrases without thinking. Any company we start would always be a start-up, right ?

Would "started a company" mean the exactly same ? I mean, it is not like we can start a well-established decade-old company, right ?

  • Use "founded" instead of "started" there. – Robusto Oct 21 '15 at 17:06
  • Well , even "founded a start-up company" is redundant , while "founded a company" is good enough. – Prem Oct 21 '15 at 17:08
  • "start-up" just means "new". – user140086 Oct 21 '15 at 17:14
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    Note that all implicit semi-redundancies do not need to be resolved. There is nothing inherently wrong with starting a start-up, shooting a shot, or drinking a drink. – Robusto Oct 21 '15 at 17:37
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    I liked your question and the options you decided to go with. +1 It even generated the following possibility for a future question: "Does 'investing in a mature start-up' contain an oxymoron?" – Papa Poule Oct 21 '15 at 18:14

I hear what people say, but start-up company has a particular meaning, that is a little more than simply a company which gets started.

For that reason I think you should retain start-up company.

But you could perhaps say He/She began/initiated a start-up company or ...was responsible for a start-up company.

However the latter does not necessarily mean they were there at the very beginning.

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    As per WordWeb , "start-up" == "A new business" , while en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Startup_company shows many (non-standard) Definitions of start-up. I think you have a point about particular meanings, +1 , but many people (in general) do not know about those particular meanings, and use "start-up" as a stock phrase to mean "new", in which case it is redundant. When I have to use such a phrase, I will use your advice about "initiated" or "founded" (courtesy of @Robusto) and atleast avoid the glaring redundancy. – Prem Oct 21 '15 at 17:32

Any company we start would always be a start-up, right? Would "started a company" mean the exactly same?

Not necessarily. There's quite a number of definitions:

start-up: a new small company or business, especially one whose work involves computers or the Internet (Longman)

Wikipedia has an insightful section about this very topic. Here are some definitions:

A company, a partnership or temporary organization designed to search for a repeatable and scalable business model.

According to this definition, if you start a restaurant (where the business model is well-known, so no need to search for it), you are not founding a start-up.

Another definition:

A startup is a company designed to grow fast. Being newly founded does not in itself make a company a startup. Nor is it necessary for a startup to work on technology, or take venture funding, or have some sort of "exit". The only essential thing is growth.

A recently started small "mom-and-pop" store that has no plans to conquer the world would probably not fit this definition.

There are more definitions, and not every new company would be a start-up according to all (and, I think, most) of them.

So when people say that someone started a start-up, they most likely mean a new, ambitious, trailblazing (possibly, tech) company that's trying to disrupt the market and grow super fast.

Edit: It's been suggested by others that "started a start-up" is somewhat tautological, and I tend to agree. At least in writing, I'd prefer "He founded a start-up" or similar.

  • +1 , but [[ forbes.com/sites/natalierobehmed/2013/12/16/what-is-a-startup : “startup” has been bandied around with increasing frequency . . . .Those who sip the startup Kool-Aid define it as a culture and mentality of innovating on existing ideas to solve critical pain points . . . “Startup is a state of mind,” . . . According to Merriam-Webster, start-up means “a fledgling business enterprise.” . . . Therein lies the rub – to be a startup, you must have set up shop recently. ]] Beyond all these non-standard (non-consistent) Definitions , start-up means new , to most folks. – Prem Oct 21 '15 at 17:42
  • I agree in that being recently founded is essential, but not sufficient for many definitions of the word "start-up". But yeah, therein lies the rub. No argument there. – A.P. Oct 21 '15 at 17:45

very good detailed breakdown @A.P., I also hear much usage of "start-up/startup" in reference to a phase of a company (i.e. Our company is in startup mode)... it seems more connected to a period in a company's history, rather than a "type" of company.

But yes, @Prem, I believe "I founded a company" is the correct way of phrasing the idea without redundancy..

  • I think you were not able to comment on the answer by @AP because of shortage of reputation points , so +1 from me , for the insight about "history" rather than "type". – Prem Oct 22 '15 at 17:03

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