Technology, finance, startup culture — all of these communities have developed their own language, with slang and jargon so common that they’ve passed into wider use. (What is a “platform,” anyway?)

It’s no different outside the Anglosphere, where an array of unique terms and phrases adopted by startups around the world have come into fashion. Here’s our guide to decoding some of the more notable (and notorious) terms.


韭菜 “Leek” 
A fallible, green investor who piles into a stock and ends up losing; to be cut down or harvested, like the vegetable.

我们都是打工的 “We’re all just workers here”
Used to build a sense of camaraderie.

做生意归做生意 “Business is business”
A widely-acceptable rationale for many actions.

Latin America

“Ponte la camiseta” “To put on the T-shirt”
Used in Mexico when asking employees to put in extra time without extra pay by appealing to their team spirit.

A derogatory way to describe adapting a business model for the Latin American market.

“Radical Candor” 
A reference to the book by Kim Scott that has become a mandatory read on management theory. In Latin America, the title of the book is used to justify a whole range of behavior employed to “get things done.”


何が言いたかったかというと … “My meaning was really…” 
Politely expressing frustration about being misunderstood.

ジャストアイデアですが ”This is just an idea, but…”
Used to tentatively suggest a bold idea.

コンセンサスしましょう “Let’s reach a consensus”
To reach a conclusion — or avoid one — by deciding to agree and move on.


A Twitter hashtag adopted by Indian startup founders when being overly transparent with internal matters; ostensibly used to normalize failure and struggle, it can also serve as a self-promotion tool (whether by showing an admirable degree of honesty or humblebragging).


“Cut soap for us”
Show us how to be successful like you; used as flattery.

Refers to regulatory efforts by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN); diminutive abbreviation for the name of the CBN Governor Godwin Emefiele.
Sample usage: “We can’t disclose our recent funding round so meffy won’t make us his next target.”

“Gbo gbo wa la ma je breakfast” “We will all eat breakfast”
This Yoruba phrase has three meanings:

  • A particular industry is big enough for multiple companies.
  • There’s a light at the end of the tunnel.
  • “Everybody will get what’s coming to them.”


OTOT: “Own Time, Own Target” 
Used in Singapore to tell subordinates to go away and figure out a project themselves.