Third startup and she's 18!! I'm totally hopeless (~40 and just recently started thinking seriously about it). Then I read a bit more and saw this:
> Ms. Keng has several advantages in pursuing her entrepreneurial ambitions, including her father, a venture capitalist who splits his time between Beijing and Cupertino and gave her $100,000 in seed money.
Hmm, so that partly explains it. However, younger "kids" still hold the upper hand in this domain. Yes, yes, you gain more experience as you get older, etc. But I think there's a huge stigma associated with an older founder, the thinking going like "Well, if he is founder material, he would've done it earlier." I mean, look at the photos on our very own YC page, can you see anyone older than, say, 25, other than the speakers?
Of course, the dearth of older founders may be a good thing: you can think of ideas that may not occur to younger competitors, e.g. monitoring personal health. Still, I'm kicking myself for not being more like Ms. Keng, 20 years ago.
It's alright. I'm on what you might call my 'second startup' at 23, but the main reason why my first one wasn't successful was that I didn't give it enough time to grow up and become it's own thing.
A startup is a serious commitment. At that age, I didn't understand that it was going to take time to actually grow the thing. I think it's something that a lot of people don't grasp. Instead we have 'startups' over the weekend, 'startups' that get abandoned when the next shiny idea comes along, and 'three startups before 18'.
I don't know that there's a way to have that many failures that young if you actually made an honest go of all of them.
Here's an entry out of my personal journal that I think applies here:
When I was nineteen, I had my shiny idea I was working on. I’d written some software that proxied the iTunes Music Store, displaying third party content via the iTunes Music Store interface. You had to download and install the software, it required root privileges to install, there was no clear reason why looking at something in the iTMS was better than looking at it in a browser, it was hard to explain to non-technical people, there was no clear way other than advertising to make money out of it, etc. In other words, though it was a cool hack, it was a bad product.
I launched it, made a little splash, got a few news articles, and silently faded away. A few months later I just shut the whole thing down. Didn’t even bother to renew the domain name.
The biggest thing that’s stuck with me from the experience is how it wasn’t an overnight success. I wasn’t prepared to spend the couple of years on it that it would have taken to build up a really vibrant community and product. I wasn’t ready to iterate a few dozen times until I had something that really was worth taking the time to install and use.
I can’t help but wonder if this comes from our schooling where we work for weeks on a project, hand it in, and then get our A+ or our F back in one definitive stroke of a red pen. There’s no building upon previous work. You get the idea that a work, once presented to an audience, is immutable and complete.
This is completely tangential from the actual conversation, but I just had to pop in. I actually built a very similar proxy for the iTMS, in late 2005. I was hired on at an indie music store, with the original goal of showing their store inside of iTunes, then it was sidetracked into supporting podcasts natively (something like 2 weeks before Apple launched their support for it), then finally syncing to non-iPod devices from within iTunes. Was an interesting ride while it lasted. Just found it odd that someone else here had also done such a hack; quite cool.
As a young founder myself, I have to disagree with you on there being stigma of being an older founder. If anything, I've found myself surrounded by far older founders at networking events. My youth in no way is increasing my credibility.
Don't forget that older founders have little incentive to go to YC.
:-) Nope, although that would have helped. I think I should've have started thinking about my own company sooner, rather than getting graduate degrees and working in a safe job.
But then again, I'm from a country where job safety is highly valued by the society and your family, so risky entrepreneurial moves are frowned upon. A lot of European countries are like this, I guess.
Everytime I hear of young startups it's always been a young entrepeneur, who happens to have a rich father, who happens to be a VC, who just happens to live in SV. If it's not MyWeboo, it's MyYearbook. BTW, whatever happened to my yearbook. I heard they were bought out.
Show me the young entrepreneur that raises capital by washing cars on weekends, selling lemonade, or busting ass at McDonalds. I'd have a startup too if money wasn't a problem, I had daddy's connections and could get my startup featured in yahoo.
Anyway, everytime I see these "youth-targeted" websites I think, limited appeal to a slowly shrinking demographic. Whose sole existence is to be acquired by a facebook or yahoo because they haven't developed a longterm strategy.
There is that one guy whose name escapes me. I think he's Indian, he's a really good looking guy, he came from a relatively poor immigrant family, started something at 16, he's around 26 now and worth $500m. I just can't think of his name, but he qualifies.
> Everytime I hear of young startups it's always been a young entrepeneur, who happens to have a rich father, who happens to be a VC, who just happens to live in SV. If it's not MyWeboo, it's MyYearbook.