Startups For All Ages

Why is it that startups are supposed to be just for the young?

Yes, the “F” in Generation F doesn’t stand for probably what you think it does. It stands for fixing the world, going further, creating the future. But, aren’t dreams for everyone?

As a mentor and coach to many brilliant, passionate younger men and women, I know fully well the potential, the hopes, the heartache and the pain that goes along on the bumpy ride to starting a startup. And, I also know from coaching older, more mature folks, that the challenges are similar within the context of everyone’s personal life stories.

Everything as we once knew it has changed. The livable kind of work where meaning, significance, and that passion that brings our hearts to what we all do defies barriers and walls. And, it often has nothing to do with age.

Index of New Entrepreneurs by Age

Index of New Entrepreneurs by Age

In  2010, entrepreneurs aged 35 to 54 were responsible for over 50 percent of total new entrepreneurship activity in the U.S, according to the Kauffman Index of Entrepreneurial Activity. Individuals aged 55 to 64 also made their mark, representing 22.9 percent of new entrepreneurs in 2010, compared to 14.5 percent in 1996.

So, why is it that the word “youth” tends to be almost synonymous to entrepreneurship – to the point of blunt exclusionary misconceptions?

And then there is the ‘ageism” issue especially in tech. Having spent so much time in San Francisco – I kind of sneer at articles such as this in New Republic, on Silicon Valley’s brutal age discrimination. Token smarter ones or token grown ups?

Interestingly, for the emerging entrepreneurial ecosystem in Greece, according to the 2013 Endeavor Greece survey results imply that the common Silicon Valley entrepreneurial stereotype is not the dominant or the most successful one in Greece. “..Next to the attractive model of the 22-year old entrepreneur, that starts his/her career in a garage in Silicon Valley a new profile arises: that of the more seasoned individual, with solid work experience, international exposure during or after studies, an already developed personal network and motivation that lies in an identified business opportunity, rather than in the lack of any career alternatives…”

Sometimes life (and experience) is all about perspective – invaluable assets of years of failures (big and small), battles, wins, arguments, relationships that make everyone richer, wiser, smarter. Maybe the Greeks are on to something:-)


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