If you go to Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco, it is hard to miss a vast photogallery that belongs to one photographer Rodney Lough. I stepped inside because a wall size photo of Utah, where I went to college, caught my eye. Turns out Rodney and I went to the same place – Brigham Young University. He got a Master’s in Statistics and settled into a boring corporate job. Then one day in 1995, around his 35th birthday he got up from his desk in his office, walked out of the building and never returned.
The rest is history. Rodney is now the most awarded wilderness landscape photographer in the world. This story wouldn’t be so amazing if Rodney weren’t a photography startup himself. Few photographers in the world make only 500 prints on one photographer, ever, then put the print between bulletproof glass, custom frame the piece, display the piece in prime real estate on Pier 39 and then charge $6,000. This is a new business model – therefore it is a startup.
Most people do not walk out of offices to do their startups. And not at 35 years old. Most startup people are ages 45 to 50. They normally have worked a boring corporate job for two decade, gained an insight into a specific enterprise need and then used the insight to a solution that they then sell B2B (to business to business) style. The not-so-inspiring way. So what is the best age to do a startup?
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When I started my startup I realized that school taught me nothing about doing business, and work experience only taught me one thing – life is too short for a boring corporate job. Maybe I knew it even before. My reasoning was that by working for I will see how things are done and learn from it. That didn’t happen. All I did was primitive research and data crunching. Boring. Unmotivating.
Stanford’s least favorite graduate Peter Thiel, also the early Facebook investor and Paypal founder, seems to agree. Thiel says, “I’m very concerned the enormous amount of debt run up by students prevents people from starting the kinds of businesses that will move the dial on the economy.” Thiel has paid $100,000 to 24 entrepreneurs under 20 to drop out of college and build their companies.
Dropping out of college will save you money. But the cheapest way to not even start college and do a startup right away. If you don’t, the next opportunity will be when you graduate – but then it’s not the best time because you will have debt to pay off. You will work for a little while -but then it’s not the best time because you need to buy a car, and get an apartment. Then you want to get married – not the best time because you need money for your new family. Then you will have kids. There will always be a reason why it’s not the best time. But if you really want to do a startup, you are going to do it right now.
[Editor’s Note: This article was written by Anna Vital and originally published at Funders And Founders. Copyright 2014.]