It’s Never Too Late to Start a Billion Dollar Business

Yes, Mark Zuckerberg started Facebook at 19. But IBM was started by Charles Flint at the age of 61.

While Hollywood may love the story of the college kid who starts a billion-dollar business out of his dorm room, that’s only one story. For many, life as an entrepreneur begins much later.

Consider: Legendary wedding-dress designer Vera Wang didn’t start designing clothes until she was 39. Home decorating goddess and business czar Martha Stewart didn’t get into home decorating until she was 35. And San Francisco-based angel investor and founder of business incubator 500 Startups Dave McClure didn’t invest in a single startup until he was 40.

When it comes to launching a business, what a person may lack in youthful energy comes back multiplied in experience. Reid Hoffman started the ultra-popular career networking site LinkedIn when he was 36; Sam Walton started Wal-Mart when he was 44; and Joseph Campbell started Campbell Soup when he was 52.

Have a look at the list of late-bloomer founders below. Be inspired. And stop judging yourself against teenage founders.

Colonel Sanders: 65

KFC’s founder reportedly started serving food at age 40, at a service station. It wasn’t until he has 65 years old that he began to promote his fried chicken franchise. Franchisees began by paying just four cents per chicken. He was 73 years old when he exited the company for $2M dollars.

Steve Jobs: 52

While Steve Jobs may have technically only been 21 when the first Apple computer was built, many don’t consider him to really hitting success and peaking until the iPhone when he was 52 years old.

Bill Porter: 54

Bill Porter founded E Trade at 54 years old. He took stock trading online and created a company which now has assets of around $65B. Bill launched it in first as TradePlus with just $15,000. The year after it became E-Trade they had $850k in revenues.

Vera Wang: 39

In the fashion world, Vera Wang’s name is synonymous with the ultimate in bridal couture, but did you know that the famous designer did not even begin designing clothes professionally until the age of 39? Before that age, Wang was a fashion journalist.

Bernie Marcus: 50

Bernard Marcus co-founded a little company called Home Depot when he was 50 years old. He is now worth an estimated $5.8B. All from a teenager who wanted to become a doctor, but wound up working in his father’s cabinet shop because he couldn’t afford the tuition.

Charles Ranlett Flint: 61

Charles Flint brought together four companies to become the Computing Tabulating Recording Company in 1911. In 1924 that company became IBM. Flint also negotiated the first international sales of airplanes for the Wright Brothers. Definitely on the higher end when thinking about the ages of successful entrepreneurs when they started.

Bob Parsons: 47

In spite of nearly flunking out of high school and then suffering injury during military service Bob Parsons went on to create what is the largest domain name registrar in the world. Nearly 4x as large as its nearest competitor. Parsons sold 70% of the company to a private equity group including Silver Lake and KKR.

Joe DeSimone: 50

Finally breaking free from academia, Joe DiSimone decided to take on a 7,000-year-old industry and to change how things are made. Despite what many might consider a late start in entrepreneurship Joe has raised almost $700M for his venture Carbon, Investors include Adidas, BMW, Google Ventures, Sequoia, and Johnson & Johnson. Carbon is now worth an estimated $2.5B. Another great case that is never too late to start when wondering about the ages of successful entrepreneurs when they started.

Martha Stewart: 35

Consumed with a modeling career and then raising children, lifestyle mogul Martha Stewart built her first business (catering) in her mid-thirties. She was nearly fifty before signing a deal to develop the Martha Stewart Living magazine.

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