There are certainly many SaaS startups that age discriminate, either intentionally or unintentionally.
They want “young energy”.
A “flat, teal structure.”
“Sales without commissions.” Oy.
I’ll be direct: many of the Under 30 SaaS CEOs I’ve worked with are biased in favor of young sales professionals — at least initially, in the early days. It’s a real issue.
The thing is, there are just as many SaaS companies that think differently. And SaaS isn’t new anymore.
Try to interview with the ones with more seasoned CEOs, over 40. There are far more than you might think. Second-time CEOs in particular understand the power of folks that can drop in and just scale with little drama and less oversight.
Sales is a process and a formula. You do have to reinvent yourself. The products change, the technologies change. But great reps tend to continue to remain great reps over time, and get better and better (if for no other reason than they get more and more efficient) … as long as they don’t burn out. That’s the real risk. Being told “No” 50 times a day can take its toll. But a seasoned, successful rep that hasn’t burnt out? That’s your #1 best hire if you can find her/him.
The vast majority of SaaS companies that have gone public recently have a CEO over 40 or 50. Target them in particular if you are having challenges. Look at what Stewart Butterfield is doing at Slack (see above).
What everyone wants in a fast-growing startup are folks that are young at heart. The best CEOs know that can come in all different forms. And ages.