I'm tired of hearing people tell me their company's product is on steroids

by David Spark on March 7, 2008

I was at the Supernova mixer last night at the Wharton club (that’s Dave Mathews looking like a scared deer. See more pictures of the event from Brian Solis and some from Renee Blodgett) and we were discussing company pitches. I had just attended an Elevator Pitch Roundtable the night before, and it got me to thinking about how people wisely and not so wisely pitch their company.

Dave Matthews

Like pitching a movie you have to use products people are familiar with (“Speed 2”: It’s like “Speed,” but on water). Last night, I met Florian Brody of GenieTown and he said his company is like “eBay for services.” Boom, I immediately can picture and imagine what that is. It’s so much easier to use a service or concept everyone already knows, to fill in a lot of words of explanation. He could have said, “We’re a marketplace for services.” But that doesn’t create the image that a relation to eBay does. eBay owns the term “online auction” but its use creates a picture of actual usability.

What I’m completely tired of hearing and reading is the use of the phrase, “It’s like ________ on steroids.” This is a HORRIBLE analogy. Every time I hear that, I think, “Oh, so your product has a lot of acne and shrunken testicles.” Steroids are not super pills you pop in your mouth and you all of a sudden grow stronger. The point of them is that it allows you to shorten your rest period in between workouts so you can actually workout more AND THEN get stronger. It is the most overused, pointless analogy. Journalists use it as well as individuals pitching their company. Today, I’d like to call for a moratorium on “It’s like __________ on steroids.” Who’s with me?

Dave Mathews (pictured) did not tell me that his company was on steroids. He did though talk about a business he wanted to create that would be powered by Flintstones Chewables.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Marshall Kirkpatrick March 7, 2008 at 12:58 pm


Kristin Kueter March 7, 2008 at 6:31 pm

I’m tired of having people “reach out” to me, “push back” on me, speak “to the bottom line” and use the word “impact” incorrectly (i.e., “we are impacting this.” No, you are “having an impact on.”!

This is from an actual email, I kid you not: “I wanted to reach out to you to let you know that we will be reaching out to you for a brief meeting before the close of the year. ”

So David, I’d like you to “speak to that issue.” Let’s keep an “open channel” so that we can be more “future-forward.”


Will Rogers March 7, 2008 at 11:43 pm

Hey David, I’m with you.

And I’m with Kristin (hi, Kristin).

Holy crap. I think we’ll all breathe a massive sigh of relief when this latest round of terrible, over-worked phrases finally runs its course.

Note that the companies that claim to be “on steroids” have either recently left “stealth mode” (gag) or are still offering a “private alpha” (ga-gag).

Amazing that in the highly creative world of IT/media start-ups — where real innovation truly does happen on a regular basis — the terminology is so dull, nasty and stale. But maybe I should “parking lot” that observation.

Nicolas Schriver March 10, 2008 at 7:45 pm

Agree with you I heard someone using this analogy couple of months ago at a seminar and I had the same reaction. Being on Steroids is never a good thing. You want to have 3 great years and have a kitney cancer? Well that is not what I wish to a company. The simple word “steroid” has a bad notion behind doesn’t it?

Leave a Comment

{ 1 trackback }

Previous post:

Next post: