This is my first official blog as “Adult Supervision Guy”. Given the importance of getting off to a good start, perhaps I should have chosen a different topic. But, given my moniker, I couldn’t let recent comments by a well known venture capitalist on the age of entrepreneurs pass by without offering a “second opinion” (as in “you want a second opinion? okay, you’re ugly too”).
I’ve been involved in the world of venture capital backed start-ups for over 16 years. I’ve worked with a multitude of very smart and, for the most part, very young entrepreneurs. To paraphrase one of my favorite past presidents (well, I liked Bedtime for Bonzo anyway), I tried not to hold their youth and inexperience against them . . . but sometimes, it was, um, difficult.
A company run by an smart and enthusiastic but inexperienced entrepreneur is like a commercial airliner being flown by a smart and enthusiastic but inexperienced pilot. As long as the aircraft is on “autopilot” things will probably be okay, but if we hit a flight of geese on take off (let’s not, shall we?), I’ll take Sully every time.
What’s important in an entrepreneur is not her age, but her passion for what she’s doing combined with a healthy dose of “I am not the smartest person in the room”. Just as the African adage says “it takes a village” to raise a child, I believe it also “takes a village” to raise a company. So, the bright, young entrepreneur who enlists the help of experienced entrepreneurs (who might also just happen to be north of their twenty-ninth or thirty-ninth or forty-ninth or even fifty-ninth birthdays), is likely to be much more successful than one who thinks that “Founder Knows Best”. After all, why do you think they call it “founder”?
May all of your flights have Sully in the cockpit.