Published by Inge Geerdens, on 11/10/2013
Ever since I started my second business, a SaaS company for recruitment, people show a lot of interest in what I am doing and are mostly very enthusiastic. However, they rarely show real interest to invest. It’s every startup’s challenge, of course. But I often receive feedback- direct or indirect – that I am too old and too female to consider investing in my company and me. You see, I’m a forty plus female entrepreneur and apparently I don’t fit any box the tech industry loves using. So when I learnt that SAP bets on millennial leaders, I got mixed feelings. Sure, young people are the future. But does that mean that older people can’t create or run great companies? Are we doing things wrong ?
Today there is such a hype on people in their 20s or early 30s in technology. Many are doing great, and I really love this, but you also hear a lot of ‘behind the scenes’ stories on how they can’t cope with the pressure and stress that comes with the job. It changes them and not always for the better. It reminds me of something a not-so-happy hotel servant once told me. She said that from al the guests, she hated the Italian boys the most. According to her, their mothers had been treating them like young gods all their life. As a result, they were spoiled and showed a lack of respect in general to people and possessions. Now, I’m sure there are a lot of nice and polite Italian boys out there proving her wrong, but she got me thinking all right.
Whenever I see an article on a promising millennial starting his own company, or yet another start-up competition for young entrepreneurs only, I wonder if all that hype won’t go to their head. Aren’t we putting too much pressure on them? What’s going to happen if they fail? Who’s going to help them then ? Probably many haven’t even considered that option. That’s disturbing and it makes me feel very uncomfortable.
You know, my husband and I get excited a lot about our own children. They are so eager, smart, connected, tech savvy and convinced they will change the world. But they also regularly need advice or help from someone more experienced. We see them as what they are: amazing on some levels, but not having the monopoly on wisdom either. They make mistakes, and we let them do that. It’s when they learn the most and get perspective on things.
And as for my own challenge, well, I’m a grown-up entrepreneur. I’ve been raised a stubborn girl. So I’ll work a little harder to prove the old white males in the boardroom wrong. Generation X rules. Sort of.
What’s your experience? I’d love to hear it, especially if you are a ‘millennial entrepreneur’.
(Photo: Henrik Sorensen / Getty Images)
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