> 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.
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.
And that’s just not true.
Don't forget that older founders have little incentive to go to YC.
Of course I'm doing a B2B, so YMMV.
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.
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.
And another: milo.com
You can't consider her a normal 18-year old.
I'm 27 but I live in Italy, with blue collars parents. I discovered the startup world and began thinking it can be done only recently.