Friday, September 07, 2007

Doing this at 42

Ok, I'm not the normal web startup guy, as I'm 10 to 20 years older than your typical startup geek.

Who else out there falls into the category of 40+ web entrepreneur? Leave a comment & share your experience.

Some of my thoughts:
  • Prior business experience helps in some ways, but actually hinders in other ways. I won't make some of the same mistakes I made with GHM; but some of "business as usual" in the non-web-commerce world has little relation to or analogy with the web-commerce world.
  • Learning new technology, a new platform, and new programming languages takes more work that it seems to have taken when I was 20-something. What I thought I could accomplish in 3 months took 5 months. Has anyone else experienced something similar?
  • It seems that everyone around you can code more quickly and produce output more quickly than you. Darned kidz...
  • The business "learns" are as exciting as the technology "learns"; an opinion that doesn't seem to be shared by many of the under-30 geeks I've met. Anyone else find this as well?
Most of my complaining and kvetching* is about how long it is taking me to produce good code and the website/product. I'm not easy on myself, and my expectations are high. It probably doesn't help that the guy I really admire and look up to is one of SV's most notorious workaholics! I get that everyone has their own pace of learning, but I have no point of reference here. I hear of people picking up RoR in a week and launching a website six weeks later. And why the hell am I worried about this? Why is this an issue? Is my hour over already? You take checks, right?

*it's like complaining but much, much more.


  1. Kudos Scoob ...

    I am approaching 40 and feel that starting out in entrepreneurialism (yep, that's my new word ;) AFTER having worked in the real world is probably better, on balance, than not having worked at regular jobs.

    Why? Because at the end of the day, much of our interaction, both in terms of users and with prospective investors, partners etc. are often simply that ... real world people; average joes, if you will.

    Anyway, despite all we've had on our plates, at least you've managed to keep posting to your blog; that's the first casualty in my world when things get crazy. C'est la vie ...

  2. True... especially since our interaction was in the IBM-related world which was so spread out, geographically & widely varied demographically.

    I'll be cross-posting from FT blog to here, I think, very soon.. else I'll never get any blogging in on this one!

  3. Yeah, the kids can program faster, but weirdly they still don't usually get conceptual bugs. I'm always shocked how much I can help top-of-their-class undergrads debug code I've never seen in languages I don't know. I can just tell what they are doing wrong by hearing them talk about their problems.

  4. 'm about to hit 40 on July 10th this year, so I almost qualify.

    I've been programming full time since I was 13 (machine code games for a UK company for the old Atari), and I find my understanding of the core concepts and architectural methods has never been stronger. OK, I could code 30 hours straight when I was 19 and I now need the occasional nap, but when I think how raw I was then it amazes me I ever got anything done. I think with ages, and experience comes a deeper and more instinctive understanding of systems, and problems.

    I also think that us old timers, especially those of us that started in the machine code days have an advantage over newcomers that shouldn't be underestimated. having started with such low level methods I think we've a better feel for the minutiae of a problem. It becomes almost second nature. I also find that learning new systems and languages becomes simpler with every new one I approach.

    It's like Joanna said, conceptual understanding of a problem is something that just comes with experience, and that like many things takes time.

    right, I now need on of my afternoon naps... .. .