Photo: Ed Yourdon via Flickr
Inc Magazine’s staff is writing a new book, Breakthrough Entrepreneurship: The Proven Framework for Building Brilliant New Ventures.While conducting research, Inc ran into ageism. VCs, they found, tend to think entrepreneurs over 30 aren’t good investments. Investors gave five reasons why they prefer younger founders:
The best tech entrepreneurs have youth to thank for their ideas
Mark Zuckerberg created Facebook for students. Sergey Brin and Larry Page created Google at Stanford. Youth definitely played a role in the creation of those companies.
That doesn’t mean someone who’s older can’t be innovative. “Great ideas can come from anyone who truly understands a market and its customers’ needs,” writes Inc.
When you’re young you think anything is possible
Young entrepreneurs are naive. They don’t realise how hard it is to start a successful business. Older entrepreneurs may have more fear and a more inhibiting but realistic point of view that comes from years of business experience.
Young entrepreneurs can live and breath the product
When you’re young and you don’t have family commitments, you can spend your days living and breathing a startup without dividing time.
Inc mentions multiple entrepreneurs who rented houses and encouraged their staffs to live there. It made everyone more focused and more obsessive about their work.
Older entrepreneurs can’t afford to do that when they have families.
Young people can pivot more easily
VCs tend to think younger entrepreneurs are more “nimble;” they can learn and adapt faster.
Inc disagrees and notes that Zipcar founder Robin Case was 40 when she launched the company. She was able to tweak her business despite her age and her business experience even gave her perspective.
Young entrepreneurs are cheaper
When you’re young you haven’t established a career or the financial benefits that come from years of hard work. You’re willing to live on less and still be satisfied.
But just because VCs tend to think younger is better, that doesn’t mean they’re right.
Inc defends older founders by listing some inspiring examples: “Harlan Sanders turned 62 before he opened the first Kentucky Fried Chicken. Sam Walton was 44 when he started the first true Wal-Mart in 1962. Don and Doris Fisher founded The Gap when Don was 41.”
Here are a few more in tech: Kevin Ryan of Gilt Groupe, Phillip James of Lot18, Reid Hoffman of LinkedIn and Mark Pincus of Zynga.