I’ve often compared Silicon Valley to “Logan’s Run“–once your Lifeclock hits 30, the system encourages you to “renew”. In the movie, this meant death…in Silicon Valley, it means becoming an angel investor or VC (no comment). After all, this is a place where an investor can say with a straight face, “We love older entrepreneurs! Many of our best entrepreneurs are in their 30s.”
This inherent ageism frustrates many older entrepreneurs no end; they avoid in-person meetings as long as possible to avoid revealing their age. Think discrimination doesn’t exist? Check out this recent story on how Kim O’Grady got a much better response to his resume once he added “Mr.” to clarify that he was a man:
Hopefully new studies will help put a stake through the heart of this discrimination (and in time for the next time I want to start a company!). Here’s a great set of stats from HBR:
“The average age of a successful entrepreneur in high-growth industries such as computers, health care, and aerospace is 40. Twice as many successful entrepreneurs are over 50 as under 25. The vast majority — 75 percent — have more than six years of industry experience and half have more than 10 years when they create their startup,” says Duke University scholar Vivek Wadhwa, who studied 549 successful technology ventures. Meanwhile, data from the Kauffman Foundation indicates the highest rate of entrepreneurship in America has shifted to the 55-64 age group, with people over 55 almost twice as likely to found successful companies than those between 20 and 34.”
It gives me great hope to hear that entrepreneurship is taking root among AARP members. With constant change the new reality of our economy, counting on your current profession (or Social Security) to be around when you hit retirement age is a sucker bet.
By definition, entrepreneurship is the one profession that will never go out of style!