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I see companies which are almost 10 years old still being called start-ups, so... Are there any metrics to differentiate between a start-up and normal company?

  • None that I know of, probably based on size I guess. – Kilisi Apr 15 '16 at 5:56
  • I would have thought when they start making a profit – Ed Heal Apr 15 '16 at 5:56
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    Depends who makes the profit, most startups I'm familiar with spend all their time getting funding and just enough on work to get the next round on funding... so profitable right from the start for the guys getting the money. – Kilisi Apr 15 '16 at 5:59
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    This question is too broad. Do you have a more specific problem related to this question that you're trying to solve? – Stephan Branczyk Apr 15 '16 at 7:41
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    A startup stops being a startup when it starts trying to make a profit by selling sufficient goods or services to exceed expenses, rather than trying to persuade investors to invest money to fund the business. – Carson63000 Apr 16 '16 at 3:56
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I believe that the term has been diluted a lot in the recent years because of hype.

It has to do with what you define as a Startup. One definition, paraphrasing Steve Blank, is that a startup is a "temporary organization in search for a business model", so one you have stabilized your business model, you are no longer a startup. In theory this is irrelevant to time, but if you are searching for a business model for 10 years...

People also confuse start-ups (introducing something new) with companies that start-up, like use a traditional bakery as an example. This happens a lot recently that people are more interested in entrepreneurship and also because there is some overlap. In that case I would say that a traditional business leaves the starting-up phase once things have stabilized/matured (establish a presence, clientele etc), let's say when the rate of change drops. Again 10 years are a lot, maybe not for space/pharmaceutical.

In any case in order to have a "right" answer, we need to look for how people define "startup".

Counter example: try to market your company a startup in order to attract specific talent, while it is not.

Additional material: A taxonomy of startups, from Blank mentioned above: Steve Blank: The 6 Types of Startups.

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This is straight from Wikipedia

A startup company or startup or start-up is an entrepreneurial venture or a new business in the form of a company, a partnership or temporary organization designed to search for a repeatable and scalable business model

Wikipedia link

But in reality I don't think there's a real definition as such, and this one is self-sourced by whoever put it up.

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Some countries give benefits to start-up companies. Of course these don't last forever. Some countries can have them last for up to 3 or 5 years. But it's very unlikely that these benefits would ever last for a full 10 years.

I remember my brother having set up his company and having his benefits last for around 3 years. Benefits could include things like reduces taxes for company expenses.

In the end the definition of a startup company will vary in duration. While people can still call themselves a startup company, it would not always mean it is recognized by their government. But it most certainly can vary.