Everyone’s a nerd about something. Whether it’s music, or food, or video games; everyone has that one thing (or multiple things) that make them totally geek out. And on StartupBus Florida, it’s no different. In fact, the nerd levels reach new heights by being intensified by the sheer number of people nerding at the same time.
However, one can’t look at the people on the StartupBus as a homogeneous group. There’s a popular infographic going around lately that differentiates between “nerd” and “geek.” The infographic explains that geeks are essentially technologically-savvy, obsessed-with-one-subject kind of folks, while nerds are usually academically-centered and socially awkward. Although there are truths to both explanations, I think that this is a very myopic view of what nerdiness and geekdom really mean to the people involved.
In the StartupBus there are three different types of people: hustlers, hipsters and hackers. In other words, there are business folks, designers and developers. Each with his or her own skill set, each with his or her own style, interests and social comfort level. These people could certainly be described as nerds or geeks, but none of them fit the mold as outlined by the infographic. Not perfectly, anyway.
I’m a self-described nerd; the same goes for the rest of #teamreferrin. But we’re all completely different. I’m more of the creative type. I get stuck on words and movie lines and attention to the tiniest of details. I know a little about a lot. Kyle is the strong, silent type. I’m convinced that he can do pretty much anything when it comes to web development. I tell him that he saves the Internet all the time. He doesn’t talk much, so it’s always really rewarding when he cracks up at something because you know he means it. Charlie Chee is a one-man show. He’s hilarious without trying, he’s passionately curious, and if he’s asked to do something, he won’t stop until it’s done. Then there’s our fearless leader, Dave. He’s encompasses all of the previously-mentioned characteristics times ten. He leads by example, takes risks and laughs in failure’s face. We’re like the scrappy underdog bunch on the road to SXSW, but we share the same passion and commitment to greatness that the folks on the bus do. Even if we’re hacking our startup together in a four-door sedan.
Nerdiness and geekdom aren’t mutually exclusive. In this scenario, nerdiness is basically just a passion for something: for the teams on the bus, that could be wheelin’ and dealin’, designing or developing. It could also be a passion for the startup idea that they chose to support. Geekdom, then, is the product of nerdiness. It’s the form that nerdiness takes once a project is in motion. It’s the nerd’s state of being once in his or her respective zone.
Some people consider “nerd” and “geek” insults. I think this couldn’t be further from the truth. Being a nerd or a geek doesn’t necessarily mean you’re good at algebra or play Dungeons & Dragons (not that there’s anything wrong with that); in the case of the StartupBus, being a nerd or a geek just means you get sh*t done.
People who don’t get it will try to use these words against the people who do get it. But I’m not seeing any of these naysayers getting the opportunity to win thousands of dollars of funding from VCs and angel investors at SXSW. So as Yeezy says, “if they hate, then let ‘em hate, and watch the money pile up.”
Geek on, nerds. Geek on.