There's no official definition of startup. But a few smart startup guys have a few of their own.
Here's my 3 preferred versions:
- "A startup is a temporary organization used to search for a repeatable and scalable business model" — Steve Blank
- "A startup is a human institution designed to deliver a new product or service under conditions of extreme uncertainty" — Eric Ries
- "A startup is a company designed to grow fast" — Paul Graham
There's plenty to like in this examination of a startup by Paul Graham.
This is also useful from Eric Ries, regarding his definition:
The most important part of this definition is what it omits. It has nothing to do with:
- the size of the company
- the sector of the economy
- the industry in which one operates
The goal of the startup is to figure out the right thing to build (as quickly as possible) which customers want and are willing to pay for.