In light of Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian calling hustle porn the most dangerous thing in tech, it's important to learn how to spot the creature that creates it: The fauxpreneur, a new classification of startup founder. Compared to the entrepreneur, a species that compulsively grows new businesses, the fauxpreneur simply claims to.

As with homo sapiens and homo neanderthalensis, the difference between the species can be difficult to determine at first glance, so the below acrostic outlines the fauxpreneur’s principle behaviors, making this dangerous group easier to identify in the wild.

Just remember, a fauxpreneur is always “killin’ it.”


Keeps away from actual entrepreneurs

While the fauxpreneur never misses a single TechDay or startup conference, one-on-one conversations with real entrepreneurs are, in fact, deadly. People with companies tend to talk about them, sucking attention away from the fauxpreneur with their annoying chatter about genuine business struggles. And in the fauxpreneur respiratory system, attention is oxygen.

Instagrams non-stop

Fauxpreneurs believe if you’re not on the ‘gram, you will never become a unicorn. (In the startup religion, “becoming a unicorn” is the term for entering the gates of heaven.) As a result, the dedicated fauxpreneur posts at least three pictures per day showing how hard she’s “hustling,” offering the hard labor these posts do not illustrate as sacrifice to her follower gods.

Examples include pictures of the fauxpreneur looking at a laptop in an airport bar, at a coffee shop, or beside a WeWork beer tap, describing the work she is not doing with religiously-required hashtags. Their religion also awards bonus points for photos of the fauxpreneur behind a conference podium pretending to give a presentation at an event where she did not speak.

Lies to the press

Fauxpreneur Instagram posts often include links to articles where her startup has been featured; however, the information she gave reporters is never true. One article, for example, might quote the difficulties she faced building a business without investors. Another might explain how easy it was to raise funding. The fauxpreneur feels no compulsion: She’s neurologically incapable of truth-telling and it’s all fake news anyway.

Lives at the Ace Hotel or AWS Pop-Up Loft

After Yelp reviewed both as hot, hot, hot places to work and be seen working, fauxpreneurs took up habitat, hoping investors might discover them there in the same way that 1980’s talent scouts recruited international fashion models at the mall.

Isn’t wearing a hoodie

Contrary to public belief, hoodie-clad entrepreneurs are—for the most part—real, having been too busy working on their businesses to realize hoodies are now passe. Keenly aware that she must garner more and more Instagram likes to become a unicorn, the fauxpreneur long ago traded her Mark Zuckerberg-look for attire sold at stores that pay influencers. Note, however, she is not a paid influencer—yet.

Never discusses the product

When press and/or investors ask about her startup’s user base, total addressable market, or revenue, the fauxpreneur immediately changes the subject. If pressed for an answer, she grows defensive and/or laments about how excruciatingly difficult it is to build the next Uber for dogs.

Incessantly tries to get on Shark Tank

This—even more than a preponderance of Instagram likes—assures the fauxpreneur’s eternal unicorn salvation. If the fauxpreneur does, for some reason, make it on the show, Mr Wonderful will deftly expose her as “not crushing it,” prompting a visit from an ABC-hired shrink who counsels the crying fauxpreneur as she deals with the reality of her artificial nature for the first time.

Takes photos of real entrepreneurs who are crushing it that she’s found online, then photoshops in her head and/or logo while telling herself Mr Wonderful has no idea how hard it is to build a real business.


Note that while these strategies may be effective now, the fauxpreneur is ever evolving, largely because she has time—which real entrepreneurs do not—to stay up on all the trendy trends. The fauxpreneur is currently in peak numbers; however, as Congress continues its hunting season on tech giants, we anticipate the fauxpreneur’s numbers may recede. After all, unlike the entrepreneur, which is internally-motivated, the fauxpreneur is driven by the fame and glory she believes awaits her in unicorn heaven. This chameleon-esque creature may adapt into a different species entirely after she learns building a startup is, in fact, hell.

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