Are startups a young man’s/woman’s game? No. We have 19 portfolio companies today of which 4 of them have CEO’s who are over 45 and has a family. To me, that’s enough proof to indicate you don’t have to be fresh out of college to launch a startup. That said, being young is definitely an advantage:
You don’t need much money. At the early stage of a startup you’re probably on a low or even no salary. It helps if your personal expenses are low. Overhead like kids, a mortgage, a stay at home spouse, etc, will severely limit how long you can go without a salary.
You have more time. Having a family or being married is a second full time job. You can’t be successful in your personal life without committing significant time to the people in your life who are important, so the best time to launch a startup is before these people come into your life. Being young, single, and free of dependents gives you more time to focus on the business, not your ‘job’ at home.
You’re naïve. Being older generally means you have more experience which will jade you and make you too cautious to take the risk of starting something great. Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft, put it best in his book Idea Man: “If we’d been older or known better, Bill and I might have been put off by the task in front of us. But we were young and green enough to believe that we just might pull it off.”
You’re never too old to start a business, but being young helps.
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