As an English major, working at the Conrad Business Centre had its share of challenges. Surprisingly enough, what I was challenged by the most was the business terminology everyone used. As my Co-op term comes to an end, I’d like to share with you how working here has demystified some simply mysterious terms for me. On top of that, I would like to talk about my experience working alongside this year’s cohort of Master of Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology (MBET) students.
1. Ecosystem. When I first came to Conrad, I heard this word a LOT. Actually, it was more like a phrase: “the entrepreneurial ecosystem” or “the Waterloo ecosystem”. Every time someone said this, I always pictured trees, beautiful trees everywhere in an ecosystem of…greens and trees. Thank heavens I never said this aloud (until now), but going forward I’m happy that I know an ecosystem, in this context, refers to a network of people and startups.
2. Bet[t]a. Nope, not like the fish, like the thing (software development phase).
Is it just me, or has the entrepreneurial community inadvertently borrowed words from my high school biology class?
3. Value proposition. I’m going to give myself the benefit of the doubt and say on some level, I knew what this meant. Four months ago, could I tell you it was "a feature intended to make a company or product more attractive to customers"? No, probably not...but now, I feel fairly confident that I can use this in my own conversation, without an MBET present to officiate, and it could still make sense.
4. Incubator. Ah, nope. Not what you’re thinking. Not the place that keeps premature babies warm. And if you thought that was an incubator, could you imagine what a painful, hot place an accelerator would be? In the business world, incubators and accelerators are programs/ spaces that provide resources to entrepreneurs.
5. Networking. I always knew that networking meant putting yourself out there, meeting new people, and establishing a social network of business connections; however, I always thought that if you want something bad enough, "the right" people will find you. I had the luxury of having a corner, glass office where I got to see MBET students pass me day-in and day-out.
The thing about entrepreneurs is, they are never walking casually through an ecosystem, taking in the trees and the greens. They are always speed walking to their destinations, engaged in meaningful business conversation with one-another along the way, always ready for the next steps.
6. Entre nous. I took a French class, but this never came up. I had to learn this one by myself and after a conclusive google search, I learned this phrase meant "between us". The MBET program has several guest lecturers come in to talk to the students.
In addition to all of these points, I’ve realized that people aren’t just entrepreneurs…and entrepreneurs aren’t just people. Being an entrepreneur isn’t just a job, it is a lifestyle and a way of being.