At TechStars, a frequent question that we get from potential applicants concerns age. TechStars doesn’t ask for the age of applicants, and does not consider age in its selection criteria. We’ve had applicants as young as 12 years old, and as old as about 75.
Looking at statistics from last year, we’ve accepted founders who are between about 20 years old and about 40 years old into the program. The vast majority of our applicants seem to fall into this age range as well.
We often hear from potential applicants who are teenagers. Often they ask us directly if their age is a limitation. While the answer is no, I generally also point out that we’re unlikely to accept applicants who are still in school, for the simple reason that this limits the amount of energy that can and will go into their startup, as they have to share their attention with their schoolwork. As investors, it’s important to us that all of the energy of the founders that we select is going into their startup. It’s the very same concern that we have with applicants who want to keep a “day job.”
We’ve also noticed that many young founders apply alone, without co-founders. I’m not sure why this is, but I’d guess it’s because young entrepreneurs haven’t built up a network of like-minded individuals yet, simply have trouble engaging co-founders due to age differences, or that there are naturally fewer young entrepreneurs that they can identify and associate with in their local area. In any event, single founders are not something we rule out, but it’s certainly a disadvantage.
For those who fall into the “young entrepreneur” category, I highly recommend a book from one of our mentors, Ben Casnocha. Ben is a successful 19 year old entrepreneur and My Startup Life is an excellent read on this subject.
On the other end of the spectrum, we just don’t see nearly as many applications from the 45+ set. I think this is primarily because the value proposition offered by TechStars naturally appeals to younger people.
So, age is not a factor. I’d like to encourage anyone of any age to apply to TechStars. Just make sure that you can dedicate yourself to your startup fully before you apply.