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[dupe] New research shows successful founders are far older than the stereotype (techcrunch.com)
93 points by dsr12 9 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 14 comments

Previous HN comment on this paper: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=16794228

As someone that is 46 and founding only his second startup, I can say that the wisdom and choices of how I've gone about this has felt like it's an order of magnitude improvement over my last startup which I founded in the early 2000s. And by this I mean, not just my choices in an absolute sense, but also relative to the rest of the startup ecosystem (which is obviously vastly different now).

I can draw a winding line from all of the things I've worked on over the last 20+ years, and see how they culminate in this current project. And I can draw upon a wide array of insights and learnings I've had along the way.

But the thing that I think gets underappreciated about older founders, is that the stakes are immeasurably higher. When you start something in your 20s and 30s, you see how the current project is something you are trying on, and you will evaluate how it fits. But failure is a learning exercise, and you know there will be other opportunities lined up waiting.

When you start something in your mid-to-late forties, knowing that a startup can often take 10+ years to see through to fruition, you have to consider that this could be your last meaningful project. So you start battling not just for success but for a sense that your life choices have added up to something meaningful. And that you've been able to have the kind of impact that you'd been working your whole life to have.

This might seem overly dramatic, but it's definitely the case for me. The shot clock is ticking down, and that does amazing thing to one's sense of focus and purpose.

The more one knows, the lesser they are inclined to do anything about it, because they get a premature picture of where it leads to, and will be afraid to take the first step.

Less knowledge and "thinking small" is a definitive advantage when it comes to entrepreneurship and risk taking.

I couldn't agree more... thanks for putting this so eloquently.

I also find that I (unconsciously?) think ideas through to their logical conclusion more than I used to as well, maybe so I don't waste time?

This is very true. Especially if you're from a "normal" background with no safety net to catch you if things go south.

The article itself contains the same stereotypies.

Quote from the article:

> What they found is that the average age of a startup founder is about 41.9 years of age among all startups that hire at least one employee, and among the top 0.1 percent of highest-growth startups, that average age moves up to 45 years old. Those ages are taken from the time of the founding of the company.

Image from the article - a typical 45 year old founder?


There is another reason for this: lack of self-confidence in most young people.

When I graduated college I already had a side business. But instead of doing a startup I worked as a developer for 5 years. Mainly because I didn’t know if I had what it takes to build a successful business.

I started my (now successful) company at my late 20s. And I am glad because I learned a lot about a lot of things at that full time job and I also came up with the idea for my startup because the company I worked for needed such product and no good solutions existed on the market.

The startups I worked in/with/for that had under 30 founders were all pretty hampered by lack of experience and "age". An extra 10 years of making mistakes and dealing with people in work situations would have eased things a lot.

I dug up the links for two past age polls on HN to see what the average age of the HN reader might be:

* https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=5536734

* https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=517039

PG's comment suggests that you shouldn't trust self-reported data on HN but it's interesting that polls taken in 2009 and 2013 are at least "eyeball correlated" (the top 5+ age brackets are in the same order). I have a few more thoughts that are probably more like wild guesses (since you can't assume an even distribution of start-up founders over that population) but my gut is telling me that if you're here you're more likely to be a founder than say Slashdot.

Since the last poll was so long ago, here's an updated one for 2018 with categories for founders versus non-founders in each age bracket:


How many of the older, successful founders have had failed startups in the past and how many?

Now, this here is the type of news I open HN every morning for. You have my vote good sir, it's well earned.

I wholeheartedly expect the next most upvoted research that finds a strong correlation between startup succes and chronic procrastination and a life long history of aimless browsing of internet news.

But founders are younger.

Yep, it said successful founders. ;-)

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