10 Aug 2016
When does a startup stop being a startup?

When does a startup stop being a startup?

Here at Luminous PR, we’re lucky enough to work with tech businesses of all shapes and sizes – from budding startups to well-established brands. And like all good PRs, we don’t have favourites… 

However, there has been a lot of discussion recently – a debate of sorts – in the Luminous office about startups. Specifically, when does a startup stop being a startup

Is it financial? Popularity? Funding? Is it quite simply down to time? Or when the CEO stops wearing a hoodie to work?

OK, maybe the last one is a stretch. But you get the idea. There seems to be no ‘hard and fast’ rule on when a startup ceases to be just that. 

Do startups simply grow up over time and shake the title? If we look at Facebook, probably the most famous company ever to have been given the startup label, time and success have still not allowed it to lose its ‘startup’ reputation. 

While it has celebrated numerous milestones, been the star of a movie, and purchased numerous other companies and apps, the term startup still hangs above it in flashing neon lights.

So if the focus for many startups, especially in the early days, is getting their hands on some of that lovely investor cash, does that mean that as soon as the company stands on its own two feet it’s free?


Uber has completely changed an industry. It has rocked the foundations of a sector that had limited outside competition, or ever considered that it would have. The money has been flowing in, enabling its rapid expansion, and Uber is now a brand that has become synonymous with travel.

It has even been given the prestigious title of being linked with new start ups: a hot new takeaway app might be dubbed “the Uber of food startups”

And don’t even get us started on Apple! They are an instantly recognisable brand that makes millions around the world, yet Steve Jobs will forever be known as the guru of startups. According to some, it will never be anything else.

Maybe there is something fashionable about being a startup. It could be said that it has become more about a way of thinking, or the ‘culture’, rather then a label to describe the status of a business. In fact, more entrepreneurs and business medias are even encouraging established companies to ‘think like a startup’ in order to maintain their success.

The identity of startup now conjures up associations of innovation, forward-thinking, constant change – and of course a funky office with a ping pong table and a slide! Think casual dress, quick-thinking, the ability to adapt fast, change, flat company structures, small teams, and the newest tech.

So when is a startup not a start up anymore?

The answer – never! Especially if it wants to be successful.