Chris Yeh posts today about his experiences with young entrepreneurs. Yeh himself could be considered a young entrepreneur at 29 – this is a guy who was deemed “gifted” as a kid, graduated high school early, started a company while at Harvard b-school, and now is doing marketing for a firm in Palo Alto. He’s a smart and interesting person.
Terry Duryea, an advisor/mentor in Los Gatos who Brad Feld introduced me to, described the fascination adults have with young “prodigies” quite well. For me in high school, I have an unusually high level of attraction (I am indebted to many for their help this during time). In college it will probably be the same but not as unique. And right after college, my level of attraction to other entrepreneurs and business people will drop most likely. As Terry put it, he could call any CEO in the Valley and say “Hi I’m a student at Stanford doing a research project on…” and talk to them. Whereas “Hi I just graduated from Stanford and…” and you’d get a dead line.
The nice thing about being an entrepreneur at a young age with a broader business focus (as opposed to a pure programmer) is that all these skills can be applied to other professions. Entrepreneurship is all about working hard, finding and filling needs, communicating, motivating, etc. These skills are all transferrable. What’s interesting, then, is it seems that the people I know who started businesses when they were young stayed in the business/startup world their whole life. I don’t envision myself following that path. There are other candy stores that interest me, too.
In Thursday’s Financial Times there was a blurb that on the FT’s web site the following day (Friday the 9th) there was going to be a piece on the future generation of management and if they’ll be able to “carry the torch.” If anyone has a subscription to FT’s website and saw that, please send me a link. Thanks.
2 comments on “Yeh on Young Entrepreneurs and My Two Cents”
That fascination with “young prodigies” can really be quite an asset. So many people are willing to give a young person a chance.
I found that out when running a small computer troubleshooting business when putting myself through Uni. 10 years later I’m starting that business up again (part time) to fund a new software project. This time around I’m deliberately emulating that first business in many aspects. Although I’m not really that old yet, I’d like to convey the impression that I’m younger to capitalise on that fascination you spoke of.
This is not a situation where you want to “capitalize” on another person’s good heart or career success by giving back to an up-and-comer. Instead, hard work, persistence, and professionalism will allow you to build relationshiops with people older.