Is there an ideal age to build a startup?

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A 9 year old girl and an 81 year old woman show that the success of an enterprise does not necessarily depend on age

Is there an ideal age to build a startup?

82% of the enterprises that start every year in the world fail in less than 48 months. This is estimated by a study conducted by economists and published in the book 'Moving forward, keys to survive and grow'. The reasons for these failures vary between the economic situation of the country, the innovation of the project and the perseverance of the individual, but could age also be a determining factor of success?

Leer en español: ¿Existe una edad ideal para emprender?

For many of the great entrepreneurs who managed to change the course of their field, the answer is no. However, when it comes to taking risks, enduring losses, changing routes, and working day and night to make an idea tangible, it seems that being young is an important characteristic.

However, when youth abounds, experience is scarce and this can be the fundamental pillar to success.

Between passion and experience

There are no books or studies that can define exactly the right age to become an entrepreneur, but many analysts have agreed that at 30 the majority of the population has acquired knowledge and tools that would allow embarking on a personal project in a professional and schematic way ensuring greater odds of success.

However, this theory is disproved when we look at cases like the head behind the well-known Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) food chain. After working as an insurance salesman, farmer, and fireman, Harland David Sanders, better known as Colonel Sanders, discovered at age 65 that his passion was frying chicken. He patented his own recipe, set up a restaurant and conquered the palate of the entire US and beyond.

The story of Ray Krock, founder of McDonald's, is similar. Although the fast food chain was originally founded by brothers Richard and Maurice McDonald, Krock was responsible for putting the restaurant in almost every country in the world. However, it was at 52 years of age that his entrepreneurial spirit paid off.

Another example is Masako Wakamiya, who at 81 years old, has become an iPhone application developer and is a pioneer in the manufacture of smartphones and video games designed exclusively for people over 60 years old.

Success at an early age

On the other side of the line of life are those who, even before their 15th birthday, succeed in catapulting their ventures.

To mention just a few examples, we can mention Fraser Doherty, who at 14 founded SuperJam, a brand of 100% natural jams that are now sold in major supermarket chains around the world. There is also that of Madisson Robinson, a girl who since the age of 9 started designing her own sandals and now her project has become the well-known children's clothing store Fish Flops, with which she has invoiced more than one million dollars in sales.

Another of the most millionaire and successful young people of this century is the founder of the most popular social network in the world. Mark Zuckerberg founded Facebook at age 20 from his bedroom at Harvard University. In April 2018, Zuckerberg became the youngest character to appear on Forbes' billionaire list, with a fortune valued at $ 63.3 billion.

The future is in the hands of entrepreneurs

According to World Bank reports, one out of every three workers in Latin America is self-employed or a small employer that helps move the economy of their city. This same report indicates that the future of Latin America will depend on the capacity of its entrepreneurs to transform the current economic context. However, the lack of innovation is the main obstacle on the road to success faced by the enterprises.

Countries such as Ecuador, Jamaica, Mexico, and Venezuela develop new products at a rate 50% lower than in nations such as Thailand or Macedonia. In Bolivia, Paraguay, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, and Peru, the registration of patents is less than one per million inhabitants, a very low figure for what should be given their level of development.

Brazil tries to be the exception of South America investing 1% of its GDP in Research and Development (R & D). For its part, Colombia, although it stands out as one of the countries with the highest birth rate of companies per year (above Peru and some European economies), still can not reach a balance and almost the same number of small businesses that open, close a few months or years.


Latin American Post | Krishna Jaramillo

Translated from "¿Existe una edad ideal para emprender?"