Startup Terms & Definitions | Lost in C-Suite Talk

Table of Contents

Hello and welcome to your quick guide to navigating the world of C-suite talk. “C” stands for “chief,” and the C-Suite is made up of all of the highest-ranking executive positions in a given company. Let’s get back to the basics and make sure you know the ins and outs of a C-suite and what sorts of conversations to expect. You’ll also learn all of the lingo that goes along with these important conversations.

What is an Accelerator?

An accelerator is a designated place where startups or new hires are given mentorship and space to work on their ideas if they wish. Occasionally, people utilizing accelerators will also be given seed capital to boost their idea.

What is Bootstrapping?

This is an informal term that is meant to describe a business that is using very little capital, yet succeeding in their purpose. You’ll often be getting cash from “the three F’s”: friends, family, and fools.

What is A Series A Capital Raise?

This is a series A financing term that refers to one of the stages in the money-raising process in a startup. Essentially, the series A round is the second stage of startup financing and the first stage of venture capital financing. This term is similar to seed financing.

What Is A Series B Capital Raise?

The difference here is that the series B round is the third stage of startup financing and the second stage of venture capital financing. Companies can seek various ways to raise funds in a Series B financing round. Series B investors usually pay a higher share price for investing in the company than the earlier investors through the Series A financing round. Series A financing involves capital raising for startups with a solid business model.

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What Is A Series C Capital Raise?

In Series C rounds, investors inject capital into the meat of successful businesses, in an effort to receive more than double that amount back. Series C funding is focused on scaling the company, growing as quickly and as successfully as possible. One possible way to scale a company could be to acquire another company.

Class A Shares

Class A shares are common stocks, as are the vast majority of shares issued by a public company. Common shares are an ownership interest in a company and entitle purchasers to a portion of the profits earned. Investors in common shares are usually given at least one vote for each share they hold.

Class B Shares

Commonly, Class B shares are held by promoters or senior management of a company and carry significantly higher voting rights than Class A shares. It effectively allows firms to raise capital (by selling Class A shares) while retaining control of voting (and retaining Class B shares).

Class C Shares

Class C shares are a class of mutual fund share characterized by a level load that includes annual charges for fund marketing, distribution, and servicing, set at a fixed percentage. These fees amount to a commission for the firm or individual helping the investor decide on which fund to own.

Common Stock

Common stock is a type of stock issued to the majority of shareholders in a company. Holders of common stock enjoy certain rights that their counterparts in preferred stock holders do not. Rather than receiving regular payouts, common stock holders derive value from their shares when the company grows.

Preferred Stock

Preferred stock is a type of stock that offers different rights to shareholders than common stock. Preferred stock holders receive regular dividends and are repaid first in the event of a bankruptcy or merger.

What is B2B?

B2B is “business to business.” This exchange is often begun by exchanging products but can expand into a full-blown partnership.

What is B2C?

B2C is “business to consumer.” This is the traditional practice of passing the product from you to your customer.

What is Meant by Cash Flow Positive?

This is accountant lingo. When you deduct your expenses from your earnings, you effectively have created a cash flow positive. You want to have a positive amount in your bank account!

What Is a Vesting Schedule?

A vesting schedule is when shares are allocated to employees and or investors based on certain timeframes, or milestones achieved. More or less it’s a way to make sure that the team member or investor “does their job” and that the company is not allocating shares unnecessarily.

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What is a Cliff?

A cliff usually applies to vesting schedules (shares given to employees over time). This can be a device for CEOs to fire employees, or to let them leave without giving them stock beforehand.

What is a Cottage Business/Cottage Industry?

This term is generally used to refer to a business that will never be producing a very high level of revenue, but it is usually a nice lifestyle business.

What is Crowdsourcing?

This is the method of obtaining information for free either from the Internet or from a survey.

What is a Digital Nomad?

This is a term applied to someone who travels frequently while coding as an app or web developer. Their services can be obtained from a wide variety of sources due to their lifestyle.

What is an Early Adopter?

These are the very first users of your product or service. They will typically be key influencers or otherwise prevalent individuals on social media platforms. If these people are utilized correctly, they can grant you a great deal of free exposure.

What is Equity Crowdfunding?

Equity crowdfunding is the practice of paying a fee to the crowdfunding site, as well as a percentage of the company to its investors.

What is an FMA?

First Mover Advantage. This is generally employed by large corporations, like Disney. They simply lead and by innovating, they stay ahead of the pack.

What is Growth Hacking?

This is a marketing technique that focuses on finding scalable growth through inexpensive tactics, such as social media or other free platforms. An example of a business that utilizes this tactic is Airbnb.

What is an MVP?

Not the Most Valuable Player in this instance. MVP refers to a minimum viable product, meaning the simplest form of your product.

What is a Responsive Design?

This is a piece of your website or software that is built to function optimally across all devices. This is likely the most important piece of your site, as you want this easily displayed and readily available.

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What is Traction?

This is proof that your hypothesis/mission is working. Essentially, it is proof that people are buying your product and your startup is creating revenue!

Now that we’re familiar with the lingo of these business executives, let’s take a deep dive into each of the positions that make up a successful company.

What is a Chief Executive Officer?

A chief executive officer– CEO– is the one at the helm of the company.

The CEO will manage and direct the business, making sure to keep its primary objectives in mind throughout the process. This person will promote innovation, have a business plan, be familiar with the customer base, and be at the forefront of management.

A big piece of the CEO role is being a leader in the business world. This person will likely have great experience and vast knowledge of the product they are selling, as well as the business partners and ventures that go into product management.

As a CEO of an established business, this person will be detail oriented, data driven, and attuned to business strategy and business needs.

What Do They Do?

The role and responsibilities of a CEO will likely vary greatly from business to business.

Most CEOs will work directly alongside the other c level executives, especially at an early stage company. They want to create a business model that favors their product management, as well as the other board members and sales leaders.

With a successful business plan, CEOs will be able to assess strategy, top talent, new markets, and other factors in more detail. With the company following their lead, it is important for the CEO to be informed on new business and for them to receive direct reports.

A CEO may even have a securities and exchange commission that aids them in their day-to-day tasks. It is important to remember that c level executives do not work alone– they rely on one another in order to make their business strategy as strong as possible.

What is a Chief Marketing Officer?

As the name suggests, the CMO is in charge of all things marketing strategy for the company. Without them, the company would be adrift when it comes to marketing strategy.

For most business models, the marketing team is the most expansive and involves the most moving parts in order to function properly. As a c level executive and the leader of the marketing department, it is critical that the CMO possesses management skills and a solid grasp on corporate culture.

Considering a CMO’s own career, their marketing background will aid them in their data analysis skills and gauging the needs of new customers within the company.

Since they are a crucial piece of the c level executives, it is likely that the CMO will also be involved in other business areas. They may meet with potential investors, scout at top universities, or even do the important task of allocating limited resources. All that they do is for the good of the company and in accordance with their business plan.

What Do They Do?

The CMO will be one of the most involved executives at the company. They will be heavily involved in the production of the business plan.

In addition to heading the marketing strategy team and its employees, the CMO will have a plethora of outside responsibilities.

They will partake in market research, as well as new business opportunities that they can market towards. They may track the trajectory of larger companies and their customers, making sure that their own marketing strategy is as efficient as possible.

They may also be in charge of succession planning, though this task could be allocated to any of the c level executives. This process involves the monitoring of future corporate titles, as well as deciding who can be pulled up into leadership roles. Anything the business plan needs them to do, they will be able to accomplish.

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What is an Executive Team?

An executive team is made up of the c level executives within a company. This will include the chief executive officer, chief financial officer, chief marketing officer, chief data officer, chief information officer, and other finance leaders present in the business.

Startup companies will likely begin with this executive team, expanding into lower level employees from that point. With a startup ecosystem model that is often customary for new businesses, it is extremely important to have people who have backgrounds in each of these key areas.

While background for these executives may seem important, high level employees can come from Harvard business school or they can come from a small town with humble beginnings. As long as they have drive, commitment, and the company’s best interests in mind, any person could be come the future CFO, a venture capitalist, or any c level executive.

The executive team may also have a talent management team or just one employee in charge of this task for startup companies. For a services company, the team will also need to partake in financial planning, analyzing intellectual property, and any other necessary function for the good of the company.

What Do They Do?

Every c level executive will have a different role in the company, though there will likely be overlap.

The Chief data officer and Chief information officer may work in tandem to produce the best business units and financial planning for the business. The CMO and CFO may join forces in order to best combat negative customer feedback, and the CEO will likely have a hand in all of these tasks.

The C suite management team is extremely important for the success of the business, but they are also in charge of making sure their employees are being productive, creative, and working to their fullest potential.

New businesses have the added pressure of making sure everything is going smoothly and according to plan. This is especially true for a lean startup. In a lean startup, the C suite needs to make sure that they are doing something different AND better than other new companies. If they aren’t, they are not a lean startup.

Having a successful business plan, up-to-date financial information, marketing strategies, and communicative management are all factors that feed into a successful c level for companies.

What is a Chief Financial Officer?

At the core of any successful business is the chief financial officer, the CFO.

As a valued member of the C suite, the CFO will deal with the financial planning and strategy of the business. They will likely work closely with the marketing strategy team in order to get the most updated financial information that they can use for the business.

Oftentimes, the CFO will be a co-founder of the business. Companies need to keep their finances at the forefront of their business management, so having a solid CFO as a leader and C suite member is critical.

They will work with other finance leaders to create a business plan. This business plan will aid the company in all areas, but it will be especially important in the startup phase.

The CFO will work closely with many members of the C suite, but likely most closely with the CMO and the CEO.

Companies are fluid in nature, meaning that the best companies are ones that have a highly collaborative C suite and a working relationship with their employees and clients.

The CFO and CEO will work together to create a business plan. The CMO and CFO will work together to form a complete understanding of the marketing management and the business side of this function.

What Do They Do?

On the day-to-day, the life of a CFO will likely be having their hands in multiple things at once.

Creating a business plan is one thing, but the CFO will also likely have to assist in the execution and follow through of the business plan. The rest of the C suite will aid in this, but some of the responsibility will fall to the CFO.

Businesses with an active CFO are more likely to have their finances in order and a healthy understanding of their capital influx.

Companies, especially startup companies, are tasked with the challenge of creating revenue in a steady manner even from the get-go. Businesses will only be successful with great management, and with great management comes excellent business.

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How The C Suite Functions At Kennected

A decade ago, Kennected did not exist, because most of what we do here was not yet discovered. Over the next decade, Kennected will continue to adapt and overcome the challenges of the digital age because of our talented and successful C suite.

Our C suite created a business plan, and they have executed it well since day 1.

As a startup, we faced the same challenges as any other business: make sure we are making money and that our service is benefiting our customers.

When the pandemic hit, it was our amazing C suite that kept our employees afloat and our purpose fresh. When the next round of unexpected comes our way, our C suite will be prepared.

Our startup has turned into a successful business thanks to the executives that lead the way and assist us in all areas. Without them and their business plan, Kennected wouldn’t be Kennected.

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