Baby Boomers: Breaking The Mold
While youth may not quite be wasted on the young, as George Bernard Shaw famously claimed it was, it’s the older generation who is proving to be more prolific as entrepreneurs.
“Age is often a detriment in the job market, but a plus in the entrepreneurial world.”
Co-founder of Bizstarters
Entrepreneurship has become synonymous with daring 20- and 30-somethings who forgo conventional careers to try to make it on their own. However, it’s another demographic – the baby boomers – that has consistently started more businesses over the past two decades.
“Age is often a detriment in the job market, but a plus in the entrepreneurial world. People pay for expertise, experience and wisdom, and baby boomers have it,” American entrepreneur Jeff Williams told UVA Today. He is the co-founder and chief executive of Bizstarters, a company that helps his fellow baby boomers – loosely defined as those born between 1946 and 1964 – launch start-ups.
In every year from 1996 to 2013, Americans aged 55-64 started new businesses at a higher rate than those in their twenties and thirties, the Washington Post reported, citing research from Kansas City’s Kauffman Foundation, one of the leading non-profit organisations supporting entrepreneurship in the United States.
California-based Kamran Elahian, 62, is one such ‘Boomerpreneur’. The 62-year-old has co-founded 10 companies, six of which grew to have a combined market capitalisation of more than $8 billion.
After one of his start-ups, Momenta, failed in the early 1990s, Elahian embarked on a life-changing year of travel across the globe. On his return to the United States, he launched various philanthropic endeavours that continue to this day, and started several other tech-based companies that raised hundreds of millions of dollars when they went public.
“Why would I want to retire?” said Elahian. “The only way – that I’m aware of – to create wealth from nothing is through high-tech entrepreneurship. All you need is intellect and broadband Internet access.”
As part of BNP Paribas Wealth Management’s 2017 Global Entrepreneur Report, the European private bank interviewed 292 ‘Boomerpreneurs’ – Elite Entrepreneurs aged 55 or over with an average net worth of $13.3 million.
“While many continue to be actively involved in the businesses they have created, they are now also adopting a broader approach to entrepreneurialism by putting their capital to work in more of an investment portfolio style context,” the report states.
Elahian has followed this approach. He is currently chairman of Global Catalyst Partners, a technology-focused venture capital firm he co-founded in 1999 that has investments in the United States, Japan, China, India, Israel and Singapore.
“I travel two to three weeks out of every month,” said Elahian. “I have great opportunities to visit many of these young, high-tech entrepreneurs. I see the results of my work every day.”
In the second part of this article, we will explore further how Boomerpreneurs are better placed financially and socially to make it in business.