Deconstructing the Hipster – What Does The Term Actually Mean?

Am I a “Hipster”? Are You? Does one have to sport a beard to be called a Hipster? Can girls be Hipsters?

It’s confusing, we know – the term seemed to arrive from nowhere, adopted by a movement that favours cycle clips and Quinoa over champagne and oysters, and yet works within a few miles, and often on the same projects as, its polar opposite – the winkle picker-ed city boy, flashing and splashing the cash…the only splashing you’ll see a Hipster do is when they are emptying out the portaloo over the side of their barge.

So here is some history – the phrase “Hipsters, Hackers and Hustlers” was, allegedly (because this could be a creation myth that makes Bitcoin’s look as sophisticated as an episode of Byker Grove), coined by a chap called Rei Inamoto (or is he), at SXSW in 2012.

The Chief Creative Officer at AKQA, an ideas and innovation company that works with Nike, the BBC and Call of Duty, amongst others, is alleged to have commented “To run an efficient team, you only need three people: a Hipster, a Hacker, and a Hustler.”

Forbes contributor Andy Ellwood took this idea and ran with it, declaring that a “Hipster” was:

“Usually working their way into the mix as the designer or creative genius, they’ll make sure the final product is cooler than anything else out there. But, not only that, they’ll ensure the shade of blue used to accent the font really brings out the subtle homage to an artist from the ’70’s you’ve probably never heard of.”

Ok, so that’s as clear as mud. But in a way, that’s kind of the point of Hipsters. They bring the obscure, the intangible, the “Hip” to a project.

They are not going to drive the company onwards through their sheer strength and gutsy determination. In fact, they are probably never going to make it to a meeting on time.

But what they will do, as Ellmann has pointed out, is something similar to what Sean Parker did for Mark Zuckerberg.

“The Facebook” – you should drop the “The”.

It doesn’t look like a lot, does it, and it might feel like a bit of a luxury for a bootstrapping founder to hire, or agree to work with, somebody who is that oblique.

But in truth, advice like that could be worth billions in the long run- just ask Zuck if he regrets working with Parker?

Plus, the Hipster will get you into to all those cool parties you’ve always wanted to attend.

Back in the real world, a Hipster doesn’t build your back-end, he refines it; he doesn’t write your copy, but he reads it. He is a difference maker, and every startup needs one – trust us ; )

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