Ageism

A few weeks ago someone who I had met through someone came to talk to me about their business.  It wasn’t something I was interested in but thought it was the right thing to do.  Like all entrepreneurs, he was passionate about his business.

What was different is that he is in his early 60’s and has been retired for a few years. He wanted to get back to doing something he cared about.  He did his research on his idea and found himself out in Silicon Valley talking to some VC’s through a friend of his.  They were all extremely nice but he wasn’t sure what milestones he needed to reach to get them to his invest in his business.  So he asked me if I could give him some advice and read through the lines of the feedback.

My feedback was simple.  You are too old.  No VC is going to give you capital.  If you really believe in your business then find a few people who are in their 30’s who are the right people and give them the majority of the stock and become the visionary.  He chuckled.  He got it and he knew what I was telling him was exactly what he thought.  We actually had a good laugh.

Ageism is a funny thing in the work world.  People who don’t get to a certain level in their careers by 50 have a hard time getting past that bar.  Yet we all are living longer, we all feel younger at an older age even though just like generations of the past not all of us really understand this generation (aka millennials).  We have experience and wisdom but we don’t have the stamina to grow a business from scratch.  It takes years so someone who is in their early 60’s could be 70 before they can even show success.  Big ask for an investor.

Even in companies, I don’t see many chomping at the bit to hire someone in their 60’s but someone who has years ahead of them.  It is a better investment.  Yet there will be more people over the age of 65 by 2020 than toddlers.  That signifies many things from medical costs to strains on social security but most of all it says to me there is an opportunity.  What it is I am not sure but as much as I wouldn’t invest in the guy who came into my office, I liked his energy and drive and underneath all of that, there is something happening here.