Entrepreneurship · Fundraising

Should the age of founders be a consideration for funding?


May 19th, 2015

In case you've missed it, the implosion of Clinkle is the current startup dejour to capture infamy. there has been speculation that the CEO’s (Lucas Duplan) young age of 24 (he was 19 when he started it) was the ultimate factor that led to its untimely demise. One side argues that Duplan’s young age is the reason for his arrogance, selfishness, and overall inexperience, which caused his lack in leadership skills. Others say this age-blame is just a result of pent up frustration of the press and old guard entrepreneurs. Most importantly, Clinkle’s failure has sparked a discussion about the effect of money, power and freedom on young entrepreneurs. Even Secret was two fairly young entrepreneurs who took too much funding and money off the table. What does Clinkle’s failure mean for other young entrepreneurs with hopes of becoming the next Mark Zuckerberg? Is it a lack of maturity of the entrepreneurs or a lack of oversight by investors and boards?  

Lane Campbell I baked a unicorn cake once.

May 19th, 2015

Zuck had Sean Parker, these guys didn't.  Most entrepreneurs are successful in their mid 30's to mid 40's.  That said, unicorns are often built by those who don't know they can't be.  Take that however you want.

Michael Feder Founder and CEO at PrayerSpark; Finalist: Global Business & Interfaith Peace Award

May 19th, 2015

There is some data on this. Recent stats prove that founders OVER 50, statistically, have a better chance. Companies with founders over 50 are somewhat more likely to succeed. Hence, all the ageism has been proven to be total bigotry, with no foundation in reality. Next up, the practice of only taking referrals from someone who the VC knows. Any actual stats on success rates of that practice, which manages to exclude most of the world, including minorities, etc? Because they better be spectacular to justify...

Steve Weiss Co-Founder and Advisor at LaunchCommand

May 19th, 2015

This is purely opinion and I come in as an ancient and more or less retired entrepreneur. The start-ups I was involved in and was part of the founding/early stage funding were funded by the the grand early on venture capital firms such as NEA under the guidance of Dick Kramlich,  Kleiner, Perkins with Gene Kleiner on my board , Hambrecht and Quist with Bill Hambrecht on the Board, etc. In all cases the Board of Directors shared their wisdom and were proactive in watching us young guys like hawks. When they saw any exec. ignore advice and go rogue with immature behavior, there was never any hesitation to fire the CEO and re-engineer the management. They also understood the power of "Dry Powder". Meaning if the start-up progressed positively the investor's were always prepared to fund follow on rounds or walk if the company looked like it was in failure mode due to inept execs. management or bad attitude.

Hence, I lay the blame of many of the hot shot start-up failures at the feet of the Board of Directors who are often as inexperienced at managing business situations as the entrepreneurs.

Sylvain Carle Partner @RealVentures. General Manager @FounderFuel.

May 19th, 2015

"What does Clinkle's failure mean for other young entrepreneurs with hopes of becoming the next Mark Zuckerberg?"

My honest advice: it means nothing. This is just one story, out of one of thousands startups that do raise funding (about 40 announced/reported just for today on Crunchbase). Anecdotal, factoid of the day/week, forgotten in a few months.

Second piece of honest advice: you are not, and will not become the next Mark Zuckerberg. Be yourself and get recognized for what you are.

Of course, as others have mentioned, experience matters. But you can get a lot of experience by proxy with the right professional and personal network around you.

Chris Murphy Director of Corporate and Legal Affairs at E2open

May 19th, 2015

Age, no. Experience, absolutely. 

Don Hamilton The Don Hamilton; serial entrepreneur,Founder Microtimes magazine, WWWiz magazine, Hamilton Multimedia Inc.,...

May 19th, 2015

I was a very young entrepreneur and now 50+ still starting things and my experience is if you believe, make it happen...age, sex and...are just the bull that comes from people that watch from the sidelines. Early on it made me nervous when people would tell me why my project would not work only when I was successful did they come back and claim they were big believers all along...some do it others talk about it!

Rick Nguyen Cofounder @ Spot Trender

May 19th, 2015

Would Clinkle's state of business affect young entrepreneurs? Absolutely. Positively or Negatively? Depends on the entrepreneur.

Let's do a thought experiment. You're in an elite university school and one of your classmates (with very similar background to you) got addicted to meth, his GPA dropped and he got kicked out of school. Two scenarios can happen:

1. You got all nervous and said to yourself: "Wow. That guy really screwed up. What if Harvard looked at HIM and think I'm loser?!? I might as well not even try to get into a good grad school...It's over!"

2. You said to yourself: "Wow. I'd better learn from his mistakes - use drugs responsibly and do my school work.”

Clinkle can serve as a cautionary tale for entrepreneurs, but I wouldn’t put too much meaning to what's happening with them. Keep in mind that they still have a massive war chest ($9-10MM last time I checked). A lot can happen with $10M.

What makes a successful entrepreneur is his/her ability to execute. Age, Gender, Race, blah blah don’t matter at the end of the day.

Lynn Gabbay Managing Director at Queue Continuum LLC

May 19th, 2015

Experience improves people's abilities, and young people generally have less experience. That's not to say an 18 year old couldn't run the next Google, but would they know how to deal with co-founder infighting?  Or be able to persuade a Fortune 500 company into trying their product?  Or have the vision to know when markets are shifting and it's time to pivot?  I would kill to hire a 18 year old who would know how to handle those situations, but alas I haven't met one yet who could.

For young entrepreneurs, I'd simply recommend learning as much as possible. Get great mentors, read business cases, absorb absorb absorb. It will power you through the experience you would normally get by living and help you be a better leader.

Greg Sherwin vp engineering + it • singularity university

May 19th, 2015

The outside-looking-in story of Lucas Duplan is one of poor leadership more than age per se.

Not having any connection myself, there is obviously more to the story. That said, from what I've overheard here in SF from those more in the know, I'm not so certain a 44-year-old Duplan would be writing many business leadership best sellers either.

Bob Smith Consulting to Boards, CEO's and Key Management Teams, Strategic Investor and Fast Growth Companies

May 20th, 2015

Age is secondary to attitude.  If you know where you are gifted and you push all the limits of a market or technology with that gift - while you surround yourself with people who are gifted or seasoned in areas that can blind-side you ... you substantially increase the odds of success or won't fall on arrogance.

Zuck is a rare bird.. If you check, you will see that his total "mind bank" has produced this result and features him.