Is Startup Weekend missing a middle-aged trick?

By Peter Kerr 12/05/2015 2


As one of many simultaneous events taking place around the world, the Wellington Startup Weekend took place on April 10 – 12 at Creative HQ.

Now one of the purposes of the weekend event is not necessarily to create new businesses, but as much to develop a greater awareness among its (mostly young) participants of what is required to foster a successful enterprise.

That Startup Weekend is mostly young people isn’t surprising – they’re often unencumbered, single, only supporting themselves.

It made me wonder, (and I asked co-organiser Dave Moskovitz) if there isn’t some Startup Weekend around the world that is more geared to those of us past the first flush of youth?

Dave wasn’t sure (though hadn’t heard of such a focus).

Many of us middle-aged people are (relatively) unencumbered, have the children-supporting side of our lives behind us and perhaps have a bit of capital.

Just as importantly, we often have good ideas, would like to team up with like-minded people, and have another 20 years or so of working lives in front of us.

Given that a five year life expectancy for a company can be good – well the age of participants becomes much less important.

There’s some interesting statistics (well, as least from the USA) to back this up.

Check out this Huffington Post article, which quotes, among others, Vivek Wadhwa, an academic, writer and entrepreneur.

In 2008, at the height of the entrepreneurial youth renaissance, Wadhwa released breakthrough research that showed the number of founders older than 50 was double the number of founders younger than 25, and the number of founders over age 60 was also twice the number of founder under 20. The average age of male founders was 40, and female founders’ average age was 41. In fact, Wadhwa’s research revealed that the highest rate of entrepreneurial activity had shifted to boomers in the 55-64 age group.

Such middle-aged life and business experience, honed by a Startup Weekend type event could have fascinating outcomes.

It wouldn’t surprise me if it produced some physical products with a strong digital component.

Just throwing the middle-aged start up weekend idea out there.

Maybe there’s downsides that I haven’t even thought of.

I for one would be a starter, and I know a number of others who would be too.


2 Responses to “Is Startup Weekend missing a middle-aged trick?”

  • Hey Peter!

    Great comment! I agree with you – there should be more open-ness to the acceptance of Entrepreneurs who aren’t leggy, lean 26 year old boys!

    I would say that, given that I am a cuddly, middle-aged single Mum (who has, regrettably been shunned on more than one occasion for just that!)

    I think maturity, wisdom and experience in other industries are all transferable skills into Entrepreneurship.

    Kind regards
    Julia Charity
    Founder
    NZ’s Homestay Network – Look After Me Ltd
    http://www.lookafterme.co.nz

  • A few loose thoughts –

    Yesterday I was at a meeting where someone offered that most entrepreneurial (in Dunedin) were under 40. My immediate thought was that most of the biotech start-ups I knew were headed/started by people close to or older than 40. (I would like to have pointed this out, but let the remark go as it’d have disrupted the wider topic under discussion.) It seems to me that for some areas, it takes many years before a person is at a stage to launch a sound business idea – spin-offs from research science are probably a good example. It’d be interesting to hear investor comments on that for the biotech and tech sectors.

    I’m open to moving BioinfoTools back to what it originally started out as, developing bioinformatics tools to be sold (in whatever way is appropriate) and try keep an eye out for opportunities. (Currently it operates as a consultancy. I unsuccessfully applied for MBIE funds this year with doing this in mind; I console/flatter myself by thinking they don’t like thinking as far ahead as I prefer to! Some projects would more naturally start from within a ‘pure research’ setting, but it’s difficult in my experience to try move that way.)

    Finally, while I understand the reasoning I wouldn’t entirely exclude those still raising families. (Again the local biotech firms might serve as examples.)