Silicon Valley is filled with stories of young entrepreneurs making it big at a young age. Mark Zuckerberg who started Facebook at 20 is worth in excess of billions at 26. Oculus VR founder Palmer Luckey sold his company for US$2.3 billion to Facebook at age of 22. The rush to fund young entrepreneurs led Peter Thiel to create a fellowship which fund entrepreneurs under 20 years old to quit school and start their own companies.
The rush to support young entrepreneurs is not without merit but is based on a simple formula:
Base on this formula, young entrepreneur who can spend more time creating value and spend less time on commitment outside of business is naturally more investment friendly. Experience is not included since the only experience that matters is having exited a successful prior.
But that doesn’t mean that entrepreneurship belongs solely to the young. Many over 30s and even 40s have founded successful companies. Jan Koum started Whatsapp at 35, Mark Pincus with Zynga at 41 and Robin Chase started ZipCar at 42.
But I suspect the journey is a lot harder for them than young entrepreneurs who have lots of time and very little commitment.
In order to tip the favour towards them, mature entrepreneurs may need to make more sacrifices in family time and other commitments, making the road to entrepreneurship that much harder. It’s no wonder Dana Severson wrote that entrepreneurs suck at relationships.
Mature entrepreneurs often end up minimizing their responsibilities and decisions at home to optimize their performance as a founder. It takes a lot more commitment and determination to be an entrepreneur.
The only career that is as tough as being a founder in a startup is probably being a film director. Like a founder, you are faced with a multitude of possibilities and decision making on a daily basis. Your production crew, actors and studio (whom I liken to investors) depend on you to make the film a success. The only difference, a film production may end in a year but you may not exit your startup in a year.
Is it dysfunctional?
Is it worth it?
This article first appeared on Linkedin on Jan 5, 2015.