There has been a very interesting trend – some might say a paradigm shift – in the importance of “youth” in the world of business. Thirty five years ago, when I started my first company, I was an anomaly at 24 years of age! It was a challenge to get bankers, venture capitalists, landlords, and customers to take me seriously as I had “no experience”. It was further complicated by the fact that my team – management and Board members – consisted mainly of folks who were at least twice my age and had, on average, two decades more business experience than I did. Even so, I learned very early on to trust my own instincts. Some of my worst decisions came about because I was convinced that I should listen to my elders and negate my own conclusions!
A lot had changed since the 1980s and some of the world’s most successful and highly valued companies were founded by twenty- and thirty-somethings. While the easy examples are in the tech community – Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, Jerry Yang of Yahoo, Larry Page and Sergey Brin of Google, and others – the trend has spilled over into many other sectors including biomedical, cleantech, and consumer products.
The InVentures Group has had the distinct pleasure of working with a number of young entrepreneurs including the founders of OnCore Golf, BLinc Ideas, the WorldWide App, CrowdBouncer, and, most recently, we’ve begun to assist the AAT Project. The AAT Project provides assistance of all sorts to teenage entrepreneurs, many of whom are bringing incredible innovations to the market. One of these inventors is Ann Makosinski who invented a hand-heldflashlight powered solely by the heat of your hand and the e-drink – a coffee mug that recharges small electronics using the waste heat from a beverage. Ann has appeared twice on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon and is just one of the exciting and amazing teen entrepreneurs being helped by The AAT Project and now The InVentures Group!
While those of us with grey hair and decades of business experience tend to think that high school science fairs and aspiring teenage inventors are a long way from having world-class ideas or commercially viable products, I’ve come to learn from my own association with these individuals that nothing could be further from the truth. Our kids hold the key to our future in their hands and in their heads, and I marvel at how much they have to offer. Maybe youth isn’t wasted on the young after all!