Startup founders are older than you think

I attended an investor matchmaking event last week led by Endeavor Peru. Of the 8 startup teams I spoke to, half were led by founders over 35 in age. At a similar event in Santiago, Chile in October, three quarters of the of the founding teams I met with were over 35 in age.  The fact is, startup founders are old, or at least older than you might think.

Recently, Harvard Business Review published a report on the average age of successful startup founders. The report found that the average age is 45.

I am not aware of any similar studies on the Peru ecosystem, but if we take a sampling of the of startups in Peru using the recent PECAP report, many of the founding teams in Peru that have raised seed rounds have had relevant operating or startup experience prior to launching their current startups. These include Endeavor Entrepreneurs like Pedro Neira, Fernando D’Alessio, Gonzalo Begazo, Nicolas Droguett, as well as Courtney McColgan, who participated recently in Y Combinator. For example, Fernando led Linio Peru prior to leaving to start Juntoz.

On the newer end of the startup spectrum, there are up-and-coming founders that bring deep experience to their ventures. Valia, a recently launched startup in Peru, is led by Carlos del Carpio. Quantum Talent, were I am a board member, is led by Carlos Ganoza and Alvaro Collas. These are founders bring great analytic experience to companies that use technology and data to solve problems in traditional sectors.

Why is this important for startup investors:
  1. Founders that bring sector expertise to the table, help to “de-risk” investments (startup investing in Peru is risky enough as it is!) by coming in with commercial contacts and a credible path for go-to-market
  2. Many founders in Peru are experienced at building and leading teams, essential characteristics of high growth startup founders.
  3. Startup founders are your peers.
Why is this important for startup founders:
  1. The opportunity costs of leaving the comforts of a corporate job and building a startup in Peru is falling.  Older founders have been able to raise significant seed capital locally.
  2. Founders considering building a diverse team, should consider age as a proxy for the real issues of management skills and sector expertise that they may lack.
  3. Investors are your peers. You can treat them that way.

The anecdotal examples above do tell a story that older, experienced startup founders exist in Peru. I imagine this will be backed up by data. In the future, we will have better surveys of Peru’s startup ecosystem. I hope the data will encourage more (older) founders to join the startup community.

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