This Ain't My First Rodeo
Our youth-centered society promotes the young in pursuit of the "bright shiny object". The current entrepreneurial renaissance reinforces stereotypes that innovation is the domain of those under 30. Once 40 under 40 lists were a goal. Now it's a fail if you don’t make the 30 under 30. While the average age of successful start-up founders is 40, startups focus on recruiting millennials. A study of 32 tech firms found only 6 had employees whose median age was above 35. Where does this leave the future of innovation? We pine for youth to our personal and societal detriment. From Picasso to Steve Jobs we have seen innovation get better with age. High-growth start-ups are almost twice as likely to be launched by people over 55 as those 20 to 34. If diversity is an indicator of revenue growth, recognize this in our teams? This panel will challenge common stereotypes around age and startup success, generating thoughtful debate about what to consider when selecting your startup team.
Additional Supporting Materials
- Why does Mick Jagger sell out entire stadiums at the age of 70, but we don’t want to partner with people over 40? What are the patterns we need to break to leverage the creative age? We will use examples and visual aids to celebrate innovation both over and under 40 as a stimulus to this discussion.
- As a millennial founder, why would you want to found a company with someone old enough to be your mother or father? What are some instances where start-ups have partnered with experienced employees? We will probe the perspectives of the younger entrepreneurs and bring to life the benefits of age diversity.
- Why aren’t VCs encouraging/requiring millennial founders to partner with GenX and boomers? What is at risk by not investing in diverse teams and hiring over 40 innovators in terms of dollars?
- How best can you leverage over 40 innovation to form your best founding team / innovation team. What to look for in terms of blending teams and leveraging the diversity that age brings?
- What is there to be learned from the inaugural 40 over 40 List that can inform this debate? The list celebrates women who are reinventing and generating growth after 40, many of whom are entrepreneurs or part of founding teams. How have they worked with millenials? What have they brought to the table? What are they looking for? What have they learned from there experiences? How can we make the conversation more about different types of experience than about age?
- Whitney Johnson Whitney Johnson
- Susan McPherson Fenton
- Sarah Kunst Venture Fund
- Maria Thomas SmartThings
Christina Vuleta 40:20 Vision
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