The 4-Word Startup

An easy method to describe your startup very clearly.

Person A: "So what does your startup do?"

Person B: "Oh we use AI, machine learning and neural networks to gather data so we can form synergistic B2B solutions to the autobot messenger problem by creating great biohacking communities and disrupting the massive B2C platforms, in the cloud of course. We're also planning to add scooters and a delivery service around this idea."

Person A: *Confused look and silence*

Person A: "Oh... Right..."

This scenario is often the case for new founders, including myself.

It's demoralising when you tell someone what your startup does... Only to get a completely confused stare in return.

If you're anything like me, this has happened to you a few times at least... And you've probably seen other founders going through it too.

Our first instinct is to blame other people - but it's our fault.

When you're starting out, it's hard to differentiate a good idea from a confusingly bad idea.

But unfortunately, you need to feel this embarrassing process over and over, to learn what a good idea actually is.

It's what led me to find the 'The 4-Word Startup' method.

I've personally gone through it more than a few times... Sharing an idea with people, only to get demoralised after seeing nothing but looks of confusion on people's faces.

I'm sure you know the look I'm talking about!

The truth is you need to get punched in the face over and over again (proverbially speaking!) until you finally wake up to your mistakes and find a better way forward.

For me, that was 'The 4-Word Startup' method which I want to share with you today...

So how did I go from blank, confused stares on peoples when I told them about my ideas... To consistently receiving that comforting "Aha, I get it! That's very cool." look that we so deeply crave?


The weird thing I realised is that the best startups (and even big businesses) are quite simple.

So simple, in fact, that they can usually be summed up in 4 words or less.

Here's how it works.

Your startup solves a problem...

But what you need to do is describe the solution, in 4 words or less.

Let's look at some popular examples, to see what I mean...

Uber: Hail taxis from anywhere.

Amazon: The online everything store.

AirBnB: Rent other people's homes.

Paypal: Send money with email.

SpaceX: Reusable rockets.

Snapchat: Send self-destructing photos.

Dropbox: Cloud based file storage.

And you can keep practising this method by describing other companies or ideas this way.

Of course, you can do this with your own ideas too.

One of the best ways to remember and describe this process is through a Peter Thiel quote from Zero to One:

"A superior solution, to a specific problem."

From the examples above, you can see that each startup solved a specific problem. But you can describe their superior solutions in 4 words or less.

So as you get used to practicing this method, you'll notice yourself noticing specific problems around you...

And you should then try to describe the superior solution in 4 words or less.

Suddenly, you'll notice when you share ideas with people - they have that pleasant look of "I get it!" on their faces.


I wanted to share this method so some of you can learn from my many mistakes... And avoid the many embarrassing moments I experienced!

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- Bezan