10 startup terms from 2021 everyone should know

Part of the holiday routine is looking back and compiling various lists. So here is one from the sTARTUp Day team  of the words that became part of our conversation in 2021. Want to challenge yourself? See how many of them you can combine in one sentence!

#1 Deep-tech

Everyone seems to be talking about it, yet fewer have come up with a comprehensive definition. In essence, the term refers to complex proprietary technology that is hard to copy and relies on research and scientific breakthroughs. One of the hot sectors currently eyed by many investors and startups.

Read: Our interview with Margus Uudam, founder and partner of Karma Ventures, a VC fund focused on deep-tech investments.

#2 Metaverse

One of the contenders for the buzzword of 2021. Popularized by Facebook, sorry, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg, it’s usually understood as a set of interconnected virtual worlds in which people use avatars to work, play and interact with each other.

#3 XR (Extended Reality)

An umbrella term for Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR), and Mixed Reality (MR). In other words, all kinds of virtual and real-and-virtual-combined experiences accessed through screens or headsets. Ultimately, the technology that enables #2 Metaverse.


Check out: The winner of the sTARTUp Pitching  2021 competition   VSight from Lithuania. You can sign up for sTARTUp Pitching 2022 here.

#4 NFT (non-fungible token)

A unique tradable unit of data often connected to digital content and built on blockchain technology. Non-fungible stands for individual. NFTs can be associated with reproducible digital files such as photos, videos, audio files or in-game assets.

See: Asko Seeba taking you on a walk through NFTs and art at sTARTUp Day 2021.

5# Soonicorn

While unicorns are breeding at an unprecedented rate (there are now over 900 unicorns in the world, with half of them joining the club in 2021), startups with the potential to become unicorns are breeding even faster. While they may escape most people’s attention, soonicorns are more easily spotted by seasoned investors.

#6 Gigacorn

However, some investors are on the hunt for a rarer and greener beast: the “gigacorn”. The term doesn't refer to a startup's valuation but to a company that can get rid of one gigatonne of CO₂ from the atmosphere per year  equivalent to the weight of 10,000 fully loaded aircraft carriers.

#7 Lab meat

Lab meat (aka cultured meat or artificial meat) is meat produced from animal cells in a laboratory, not from conventional animal farming. While yet costly at the moment, lab-grown steaks could become a staple of our menu in the future, leading to a kinder, healthier and more sustainable way of producing meat.  

Listen: Our podcast with Märt-Erik Martens, CEO and co-founder of Gelatex, a startup producing nanofibrous scaffolding for lab meat (in Estonian).

#8 Hybrid work

While we learned to do everything remotely in 2020, the year 2021 guided us back to the offices and taught us that we could have the best of both worlds. Experts argue that hybrid work - working some of the time in the workplace and some of the time anywhere - is the preferred mode of the biggest share of employees and is here to stay.

#9 Wealthtech

A subset of the fintech sector that deals with investments and asset management. In recent years, investing has been taken up by a growing number of people - in part, thanks to startups that have made investing more accessible and simple for retail investors.

Read: Our interview with investor Kristi Saare on building an investment portfolio for life.

#10 Ikigai

A Japanese concept refers to something that gives a person a sense of purpose. While not limited to work, it’s often associated with doing a professional activity that you love, are good at, and the world needs. Not a new concept, but definitely a philosophy that is increasingly valued also in the startup world.

See: Magician Peter Paxx explaining the concept of ikigai at sTARTUp Day 2021.

Here’s to a successful 2022  filled with ikigai, fun and startup mindset!

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