How You Can Succeed As An Over 40 Startup CEO

businessman throwing bank notes. Vector illustration of old rich businessman with money

I was in my 40’s when we raised our initial funding. I was the youngest of my four co-founders. The oldest co-founder was over 60 years old.

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Yet, we were able to raise $12 million in funding. Three years later, with an even older team, we were able to raise more funding.

I don’t remember any VCs reacting negatively to us because of our age. In fact, our lack of youth was looked at as an asset by potential investors.


You need experience in some industries if you are going to succeed.

We were trying to build an analog semiconductor company.  The analog semiconductor market had been around for over fifty years by the time we started our company.  To succeed we needed an experienced team to win.

I can’t imagine trying to convince investors to give us money if we were a bunch of 20 somethings with little or no experience. And, I can’t image, even if we had somehow raised money, that we would have succeeded.

We would have failed flat out. There is no way we would have been able to:

  • Hire great experienced engineers, and…
  • Manage the great experienced engineers we hired, and…
  • Keep the great experienced engineers we hired from leaving, and…
  • Manage the complex vendor relationships we had, and…
  • Manage the complex supply chain we had so that customers received their product on time, and we didn’t increase our inventory

We needed every year of experience we had in order to be successful.

In an industry that didn’t have the complexity that our industry had or was just emerging, then maybe you didn’t need the experience that we had. Maybe.


Did you know that most successful founders are over 40?


According to research by Vivek Wadhwa and the Kauffman Foundation, the average age of successful founders is 40. And, just as interesting, tech startups are just as likely to be launched by people over 55 as 20–34.


I’ve certainly gotten my share of questions from older entrepreneurs wondering if they can get funded because they are over 40. I always give the same answer each time I’m asked:


Yes, you can get funded if you’re over 40.


Your decision making skills usually get better with time, especially your financial decision making skills.

The only downside I saw of having more experience is you have more enemies as time goes on. You are more likely to have negative backdoor reference checks than someone with minimal experience.

But that’s manageable. All you need to do is get ahead of the story by being honest and straightforward with investors.

So, don't think of your experience as a hinderance to getting funded.  On the contrary, your experience is the key to your getting funded.

For more, read: The Nine Facts Of Fundraising You Need To Know


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