Startups know no age

GenerationS
6 min readMar 23, 2022

In the modern history of business, there are many examples of successful and effective projects of both very young entrepreneurs and businessmen of a very respectable age, who are so passionate about their idea that even 20-year-olds can envy their energy and faith in success. Today we will review some of them.

Hart Maine and scented candles for men

The creator of ManCans, American Hart Maine, founded his brand when he was only 13 years old. The boy was watching his sister selling scented candles at a charity fair and noticed that the candles smelled “girly”. While men may also wish to buy a candle, which means that the buyer should have a choice. There should be candles not only with the smell of roses and lavender on the counter, but also with truly masculine smells, for example, tobacco or freshly cut grass. The idea was implemented, and today Main is already in college, and his business brings in about $ 200,000 a year. But, of course, at the beginning of the journey, the “founder” faced obvious problems: he needed initial capital, assistants, and effective distribution channels. The parents helped the boy: both with money and with hands, and at first they sold the goods mainly through friends.

Main uses soup cans to make candles. Parents help the boy in his work. The enterprising American sells finished products online or through small local shops for $5 each.

Main, in fact, came up with an idea that worked 100%. But without the active help of relatives, their financial investments, life experience and social resources, the project would hardly have made it to the market.

Flying motorcycle of Alexander Atamanov

According to statistics, most often success in business is achieved by those who start it at about 30 years of age. Why? Firstly, young people are able to generate bold and sometimes even daring ideas. Secondly, at the age of 30, entrepreneurs (even beginners) already have enough relations and experience to implement the project. Examples can be found easily. But this does not mean that businessmen from this age group do not face difficulties.

Alexander Atamanov started the dream project at the age of 28 and is still working on it — now he is 40 years old. His startup can be called both successful and complex — depending on which side you look at it. Alexander’s idea is to create an individual flying vehicle. And this is not about a private plane or helicopter, but about a kind of flying motorcycle. Hoversurf appeared when manufacturers of unmanned aerial vehicles, drones, entered the market. The company introduced the first flying motorcycle Scorpion-1 in 2016 and found investors, as well as partners who are ready to refine the motorcycle together, in particular, the Dubai police.

Atamanov had his own advantage: he invested part of the funds in development himself, since before flying vehicles he was engaged in the development of a service for registering patents. However, like any project related to new technologies, the “flying motorcycle” is fraught with risks. For example, in June 2020, during regular tests, the device fell from a height of 30 meters, and the corresponding videos appeared on the Internet. The pilot was not injured, the project was not curtailed, but it may now take much longer to finalize any prototype. Here, neither age nor experience guarantees success: when you promote a fundamentally new technology to the market, difficulties are inevitable.

Retirees — an American and a Russian

You can successfully do business in the “golden age”. After all, all paths for people who have crossed a certain age line are open. For example, the American banker Amadeo Giannini founded the well-known conglomerate Bank of America (the second largest bank in the United States) when he was 60 years old. Giannini was born in 1870. Early in his career, he worked at Columbus Savings & Loan owned by his wife’s father, and saw an opportunity to expand the business with deposits from former immigrants. His idea was received no support and the directors turned him down. After that, the young man created his own Bank of Italy in San Francisco, which focused on entrants. Unable to be served in other banks, they went to Giannini, where they could open deposits and get loans. In 1916, the entrepreneur decided to buy more than 500 banks throughout California, and this risk paid off: a wide branch network gave impetus to the development of his project. And in 1928, he came to agreement on a merger with Bank of America from Los Angeles.

Here is a domestic example. Valentin Kislov, born in 1945, became, if not the founder, but the inspirer and one of the key members of the team of the Mineral Coating Technologies SPC. Now he is implementing projects with the support of the Skolkovo Foundation. Valentin Grigoryevich worked for more than 40 years at the Kaluga Turbine Plant, in 1999 he created a wear-resistant coating for water-lubricated bearings. As he reached the retirement age, he began to think about his future occupation. And then he was supported by his son who began to purposefully create a certified industrial technology. Stanislav Kislov is now the CEO of Mineral Coating Technologies, and his father is the company’s technical director. The coatings it offers help to prevent the wearing of equipment and reduce production costs. This is a clear example of how the experience of the older generation and the energy of the young create efficient business.

Failure is also a step towards success

Is there an optimal age to start a business? Both a schoolboy and an elderly person who is preparing to retire can achieve success. Of course, a lot depends on the circumstances, financial capabilities and organizational abilities.

But there is still a certain connection between the age and success in business. A few years ago, experts from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology conducted a study and found out that it is optimal to start a business at 45 years old. But this is in the USA. In Russia, the optimal age is about 30. The Startup Barometer survey, which studied technology entrepreneurship, revealed that the founder of a startup in Russia is a 36-year-old man. At the same time, about 60% of entrepreneurs have already faced failures once or more, but are ready to continue.

For young people, a failure (and in the case of a startup, it is possible in 80% of undertakings) may lead to disappointment and giving up the idea of continuing the search. However, the “young business” has its own characteristics — as a rule, these are the fastest growing companies. But for the founders of companies that are more than 60 years old, the business rarely develops successfully. But still there are some examples.

Older people are ready to realize their potential either in the field of activity that is familiar to them, or in those that will be in demand for sure (such as repair or construction). Also, the business of those who turn to entrepreneurship after 50–60 years often focuses on the elder audience and has a social connotation. The family mechanism can work especially well when relatives are involved in the startup.

Accelerator helps the business

What can support an entrepreneur and give them some support when launching a startup? The experience that they will gain over 10–15 years of active work. If an entrepreneur is not a complete newcomer to business, if they have work experience, relations, and their own mistakes, they will be able to start better even in a completely new field.

If there is no field-specific experience or it is not enough, then an accelerator can provide significant assistance to the startup. After all, this is not just a mechanism for finding funding for a project, but also an opportunity to really grow, adjust, and adapt a startup to the needs of the industry as a whole or a specific customer.

By the way, using GenerationS as an example, we can safely say that founders of startups of different ages take part in accelerators. There were cases when students’ projects were noted by top managers of large companies, and the pilot projects of entrepreneurs of the “golden” age also found a response in companies.

Earlier, career consultant Valeria Vilisova told +1Platform what changes had taken place in the professional environment since the beginning of the coronavirus epidemic. In cities, the demand for interior designers has increased and the demand for veterinary services and services related to pets has also increased.

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GenerationS

GenerationS is corporate innovation development platfrom and the largest corporate accelerator across Russia and CIS. Operates since 2013.