In Startups

Last weekend I went to another Startup Weekend event. This is the awesome 54-hour (Friday to Sunday) event sponsored by TechStars that takes teams from initial rough idea to building a team then finishes with pitches in front of investors. Over the years I have mentored teams or judged the final pitches at five Startup Weekend events.

Startup weekend is a great way to meet other entrepreneurs, work with mentors, test ideas, and get in front of potential investors.

But what could possibly be missing?

Of the 75+ Startup Weekend teams I have seen there was no one over the age of forty-five. Most are under 25 years old.

There could be a few reasons for this but I think the main reason is that more experienced people in their forties and fifties probably are not comfortable on a team of people possibly younger than their own children. And why should they be?

These experienced executives may be doomed to spending time with people who really don’t know much about business. Sure, these twenty-somethings can probably whip together a nice PowerPoint presentation but how could they ever run a business as well as some who has been in the trenches for twenty plus years?

Does anybody else beside me think it might be time to run a Startup Weekend exclusively for people over forty-five?

Why should the young have all the Startup fun?

Showing 5 comments
  • Jonathan Trenn

    I’d say it’s a two way street.

    First of all, if those in their forties and fifties (my age bracket) is resistant to deal with twentysomethings, then that’s on them. There is a constant “new economy” emerging. It doesn’t transform with an endpoint…it’s constantly transforming. Refusing to attend these events can cause many to miss out on the MINDSET out there. Sure, many of these youngsters may lack direction and experience but their vision often is tapping onto something important. The future.

    Having said that, there’s the flip of the coin. It’s called age discrimination. Many of those twentysomethings think that if you’re over 40, you’re too old.

    • Barb

      Totally agree with you! There is a richness in learning from each other! It takes vulnerability and letting go of ego, which is a good practice for for all. When I collaborate in this way with young people I always walk away feeling like the world is going to be in good hands.

      • VHSchiller

        Many thanks for your thoughts…

  • Joe Trevors

    Having just been involved in a 6 week accelerator program, I can completely relate to what you’re saying here. There were 8 of us, and with exception of one other, all were easily in their twenties.

    To say it was uncomfortable for me in the beginning would most certainly be one of the stronger understatements of 2018…but to be fair, that was on me.

    I believe most of my anxiety (and surprisingly so, as ‘anxiety’ in business at my age hasn’t happened in many years) was being faced with many questions (inside my own mind); Would I be a dinosaur to all of the fresh, young faces? How would our Cohort work if we couldn’t relate? What gap would there be in perspective? Would those gaps work to our advantage, or hinder our progress?

    I’ll jump ahead and close in saying it turned out to be an exceptional experience, although we were all open in recognizing that there was an obvious gap in age, experiences, viewpoints, etc…but all agree (on the surface, at the very least) that it all fed into a positive adventure in growth.

    Would I welcome a similar experience with others of my age bracket and/or experiences (45+)? Absolutely!

    Would I also jump into another Cohort such as the one I’ve described above, however? In a heartbeat!

    All the best.

    • VHSchiller

      Can you tell us which accelerator you were part of and the name of your company?

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