Is it too late to start a tech business at 34?
Well, of course not. I’ve written before on this topic a lot and you’ll “know” when it’s too late. Tons of great start-ups were founded at 34 or far, far older. Especially in SaaS, it may even be the majority.
Having said that, a few things to consider if you start a company at the point in life where the trade-offs are more real than theoretical:
- Can you make it for 24 months before you have any traction? This often gets harder later in life. If you can’t, the odds are really against you. You have to, somehow, at least give it 24 months to get those first customers. Mortgages, kids, and all that do make this harder. They do. More here:
- You, perhaps counter-intuitively, may need more help. The more experience you have, the harder it can be to do everything yourself. The good news is you should become a better manager, a better leader, and usually, a better co-founder as time goes on. But it does, usually, get harder to do it all yourself. Can you recruit, and fund, a better team earlier?
- You have to be totally, 100% OK with the “opportunity cost”. Going from a $150k engineer job at Google or a Hot Start-Up with lots of RSUs and stock options to essentially zero pay at your start-up for 24 months is fine if you are going for it. If you are going to be doing “opportunity cost” math though it may haunt you.
- You may (rightly) perceive more risk. This can be truly fatal. Most founders in my experience are actually fairly risk-averse in general … it’s just that they don’t see that much risk in their own start-ups. If you see too much risk, they you will fail. It’s just too hard. And there are 10,000,000+ start-ups out there … 9,500,000 of them with founders that don’t see the horrible odds and risks in what they’ve just undertaken.
But if you see it. Clearly. And have 24+ months to give it to get to 10 customers. ANd 7-10 years to true success.
Go for it.