We hear so much about founders right out of college. I also wonder how much of a factor is age in selecting companies.
I think our age distribution is probably close to the age distribution for startups generally. We've funded more founders who are 27 than 20 or 35 because more people start startups at 27 than at 20 or 35.
I recall that you said "... age is a high bit in characterizing someone."
And Jessica yelled from the cheap seats that "... we need it to know that you can sign stuff legally."
I remember it vividly because it confirmed my decision not to apply to YC.
I guess it's still an excellent opportunity to meet people so I mean no offense to those over 30 who did sign up but I'm a 25 year old and I wouldn't pick up and move for $5,000 bucks. I always thought part of the lure of Y Combinator was that young folks had nothing to tie them down. I can't think of a 30 year old I know who has no obligations.
No offense taken (I was 32 when we accepted YC funding). But it wasn't for $5000. Nobody, at any age, (except for rdouble) is applying to YC for $5000. The reason to move is because you probably should be in the valley, if you're starting a technology startup that is going to need to raise money or build partnerships with existing tech companies.
Anyway, the money was not at all a motivating factor for us in applying for YC. If we could hire pg, tlb, rtm, and Jessica to work for us for some amount of money, I would happily give them money. But that's not the way they wanted to play it, so we took some money from them instead. You're entirely missing the point of YC, if you think the money is the primary motivation for anyone working with YC.
Edit: Parenthetical added to cover outlier.
Actually, money was a large part of the reason I applied to YC. I had a huge medical bill while uninsured last year and it wiped out a large chunk of my cash.
You haven't spent much time in San Francisco, then...
If you don't know people like that it's probably because you're not sampling from a pool of founders, but of people that have conformed to the more usual social paths.
Investors want founders who care more about their startups success than their own personal wealth/comfort. YC does an excellent job of weeding our people like you who wouldn't trade their comfort for a measurably better shot at startup success (which YC offers).
I interpreted Jessica's remark as an attempt to head off concerns of any sort age-based discrimination rumblings.
Not sure who to believe here. Also not sure if it's illegal where pg is to discriminate based on age.
However it does seem that there's been a lot said about how people right out of college are the yc targets.
Might be good to explicitly state the position on age, to clear everything up. That way old hands know if it's worth applying or not.
Sounds like there a number of older people though, so I'm sure it's all good :)
Yes, you are supposed to hold a 20 year old to the same standard as a 30 year old - otherwise it's discrimination.
This argument begs the question. To discriminate is to treat different things differently. The real question is whether age discrimination is justified, and despite the negative connotations "discrimination" has picked up, that's exactly what we're arguing here.
Age discrimination isn't illegal; age discrimination by an employer against people over 40 is. Since those in question are under 40, and YC isn't employing said persons, legality doesn't weigh into things.
we can make inferences from your remarks, but it would only be fair to you if you explained in your own words.
Why wouldn't age be important for a YC applicant? If I'm ponying up some cash for your startup that is undoubtedly a factor I'd be crazy not to know. Furthermore, the comment from 'Jessica', whom I do not know, sounds tongue-in-cheek.
Are there other reasons, or is this the only factor you took into consideration?
I don't think it applies to the kind of people that YC is targeting - young, mobile, no dependents, able to live on very little $'s a year or the technology segment which is consumer web startups.
If you're over 30, you're more likely to have a family.
If you have a family and you can handle starting a company from zero, you're less likely to need YC. If you can't handle starting from zero, YC doesn't help you anyways.
It does happen, and it's not as rare as most people think. The article also makes a pretty strong argument that late bloomers tend to approach things differently than those who get an early start.
It looks like those in their thirties are well-represented. I don't see why age would make a difference anyway. If you blow them away, my guess is you're in. Just spend a few hours on your application, get a few people who you think are smarter than you to review your application with you for a few hours, submit it, then go back to focusing on your startup.
In my mind, the question of the age of YC founders has much to do with the threshold for risk. Age definitely plays a part. But age does not crush vision, and brings some benefits in terms of experience and understanding of target markets. In my own case, I have an idea for a mobile news platform that I believe will change the way in which a lot of people get information. I think it would be a product that people want, but the only way to find out is to build it and see what the market thinks.
But I recognize that there are a lot of barriers to achieving my vision.
First, I'm not a hacker, and I don't have a co-founder (yet) who is. I think in pg's view, this would preclude me from starting this type of company (based on some of his commentary in Founders At Work and in http://paulgraham.com/startupmistakes.html). Nevertheless, I have a lot of experience with the technologies that would drive the platform, and insights into the way people consume information, and I think this will be extremely valuable in driving product development.
Second, I have a family and a mortgage. Others have noted family-related issues, but the situation really depends on the specifics of your family. My wife is not working, as my youngest is in preschool only for three mornings a week. This makes it impossible for me to take the risk right now to drop my day job and the health insurance that comes with it (I live in the U.S., in the Boston area) and work full time on my product. If my wife was working in a professional position, not only would we have the salary and insurance to fall back on if I stopped working at my day job, but also we could afford day care.
So, what I am doing right now is plugging away at the business plan and some of the technical concepts in my spare time, usually for two hours per day after the kids go to sleep. I'm trying to bone up on my understanding of the platforms that I think I will need to grok in order to get this thing off the ground. I've stopped putting money in my 401k to build up some funds, and I'm considering how I might tap other sources of funding -- not to mention considering various revenue streams from the product itself.
Would I ever apply to Y Combinator? I couldn't do it on my own, but I might, if I had the right team and could consider taking off for a few months (I wish YC still had the summer program in Cambridge!). The family-related concerns are real, but there are ways to address them (for instance, COBRA for health insurance and enough funding to cover my mortgage and living expenses).
Edited: Changed first sentence to add Gladwell ref
The thing is we mostly read about young people getting into YC.
I have also been to a number of gatherings with the YC founders and most of them are young.
On the other hand, I know startups which were founded by guys in their 30s and 40s. Their business areas were chip-design and laser tech for optical networks. The barrier of entry in these fields is huge.
To cut a long story short, if you're 35 you may be old by web-app industry standards, but you're still young by semiconductor industry standards. Since you're on HN I suppose you're into software, not hardware, so what I have just written will most likely be irrelevant to you.