This article first appeared on December 2nd, 2011.
Is age a big issue for investors?
I’m only 21-years-old and I’ve been told I look about 12-years-old. I think I’ve got a good idea for a series of mobile apps, but I’m worried I won’t be taken seriously.
Age, like gender or race, should never be an issue for investors. If it is an issue I would steer clear of the investor in the first instance.
But rather than throwing the investor out with the bathwater, you could reduce the concerns about “age” and experience by building a real and virtual team of more experienced people around you.
In your business pitch document you could have a page outlining who is in your “older” support team.
This could be an accountant, lawyer, technologist, and a sales or marketing person. A photo of each and a short bio that outlines their experience will quickly reveal that you are seeking the counsel of others.
As to whether you will be “taken seriously” by investors, staff or customers take heart and inspiration from these young pioneers:
– In 1788 a young chap from Salzburg was taken to Paris to perform for Louis XIV. He jumped onto the lap of Marie-Antoinette and played a short piano piece that he composed on the spot.
His name was Wolfgang and he was six-years-old. It worked out pretty well for him but not for his hosts who lost their heads a year later.
– Most of the technology visionaries and success stories we admire tend to have started out as young and fresh from college.
People who jump to mind include: William Gates III, Steve Jobs, Jerry Yang, Mark Zuckerberg and locally, the Atlassian founders and a host of Australians in games, cloud computing, crowd sourcing, and mobile apps.
In fact, if you really analyse who should be starting new companies with vision and drive, the younger the better.
Not many technology starts-up are driven by 40-year-olds.
Young people are better at taking risks, breaking down barriers, working hard and succeeding in new environments.
Once they have built the business or idea beyond start-up stage, then more experienced operational and people managers can be brought in.
Remember that two young Google Founders hired Eric Schmidt to be the CEO and to lead the IPO of the business.
Mozart was “managed” by his father, The Beatles were mentored by George Martin, and Zuckerberg has hired some wise heads around him at Facebook.
More recently, these young mobile app developers have been making waves:
- Ebony Samantha of Newcastle in NSW, 16, recently launched the photography app Lomo Ho.
- Thomas Suarez of South Bay in Los Angeles, 12, has launched the Bustin Jieber app. Thomas also sells a number of other Whac-a-Mole games such as Bustin Howie and Bustin Piers.
- Robert Nay of Utah in the US, 14, has built a free app Bubble Ball, which has more than 9.1 million downloads.
Use your youthful passion and drive as an advantage, and reassure potential investors with your willingness to seek counsel from good people around you.
Be confident, but not arrogant, and you will be fine!