Ask HN: Anyone above 30-35 applied to YC?

15 points | by democracy 506 days ago


  • jason_slack 506 days ago

    I have lived apart from my family before for extended periods of time. In my case my ex-wife was never supportive of risk taking. I totally got where she was coming from too. However, we needed a roof over our heads and food and 3 kids.

    In the end, it resulted in divorce. Now my once 7 year old is in college with 2 others headed there very soon.

    I missed most of their lives to be honest. When you get divorced things can be messy and you have to schedule visits and as the kids get older they may want to be with friends instead on the weekends.

    I have regrets. I also enjoyed what I was doing. Now, I do wonder if I should have had a 9-5 and how my life would have played out differently.

    I'm not saying this will happen to you, but there can be an ugly side to relationships when you are working so hard and your family just wants you to sit and watch a movie with some popcorn and you feel like you can't. There is always work to be done.

    • ThePhysicist 506 days ago

      If I’m not mistaken the program duration is 3 months (not 6), so still challenging if you have a family but surely doable if you have the support of your partner.

      Personally I think it’s funny (no offense intended) to think that people are too old to start a company / startup beyond 35. I think the average age of founders is actually slightly above that and I would argue that the success rate of experienced founders should also be higher as those people usually have more experience and connections. So don’t get infected by the ageism that you’ll often see on HN, you can totally do it. Also please remember that there are many different ways to build a successful company, so don’t think the “crunch mode” model that most single founders in their 20s use is the only one.

      • danenania 506 days ago

        One thing to note is that while YC is 3 months, most founders spend at least another month or two fundraising after that, which can be as grueling as YC is, so it probably does make sense to think of it as closer to a 6 month commitment in the Bay Area than 3.

        • democracy 506 days ago

          Thanks heaps mate, I am 100% with you on this one and now in my late 30s I am in the best position (I think) to do it (both from experience and financial positions) and we don't really rely on getting into YC too much but would love to, thus the question...

        • Grustaf 506 days ago

          I applied several times, and I do have a family. I have never considered it risky financially, for several reasons, mostly because get some 100k from YC, even if you are 2 or 3 founders, that will cover your costs for 3-6 months.

          If your family don’t support you going to SF after getting accepted into the best accelerator in the world, they won’t be supportive of your startup in general.

          Of course being away from the family can be tough, but considering that the chance of succeeding once you get in is so high, it should not be too hard to convince them that it’s a good idea. It’s also so much easier to focus on work if you are far away. I sometimes go away for a week so I can really focus, without feeling streesed about staying late at the office.

          • unknownkadath 505 days ago

            Old man here (30's), co-founder was 29 at application time. Age didn't seem to come into it in our case! We got an interview with only an idea, and we received positive feedback from the partners. We weren't accepted at the time, though. YC (and other incubators) said they wanted a working prototype before investing.

            That's tricky, since we're in biotech; we've had to do a lot of front-loaded grinding in order to bootstrap a molecular biology lab, but now we're getting close to presentable results. I suppose if it were easy, everyone would do it!

            If we had been accepted, it would have been a rush, since co-founder was pregnant (baby is 2 yo old now!), but since we're married, it makes it easier to find synergy between work and family, heh. We have little man's grand parents right next door, and they've been a big help as we got rolling early on.

            Could any YC alumni speak to the family issue? The program is pretty short, but there is space for YC teams and alumni to set up a babysitting ring/play group for people in this situation. How did you guys handle pulling up stakes with your kids for a season? There are some googlable good outcomes, but I'd also be interested in hearing about the challenges as well.

            • jaabe 505 days ago

              Is 30 old? I work with enterprise architecture in the public sector of Scandinavia, sometimes on a national strategic level. It’s rather rare for anyone under 30 to make valuable contributions. It’s not unheard of, but it’s rather rare.

              Most people under 30 are only a few years into their careers, a few are only just finishing their degrees. On top of that, a good deal of people are starting families in their early thirties.

              Maybe there is just a huge difference of culture, but to me it seem, that the prime years career wise seem to be between 45 and 65. It's a little different for startups and founders, where a lot of people start below 25, but the second most common age group in startups is above 55, with an average age around 45-50.

              Data source:

            • thiago_fm 506 days ago

              I think first we need to make a differentiation of RESPONSABILITY and AGE.

              Mr. Rocket Eletric Car Man Inventor has a few kids, wives whatever... but he doesn't take care of them, nor feel responsible, he is almost reaching his 50 but he lives like a 23 year old.

              Age doesn't matter.

              Now, if you feel responsible for your kids, your spouse, dog or whatever. I would go a step back and consider doing something as another HN member suggested "cash flow positive". Can be a business as well, consulting or this thing that some people seem to hate here, called "working for the boss". Don't buy the YC propaganda of success. Success can mean also taking care of your kids. Today is full of parents that think they are putting their kids ahead because they work a lot, but the only thing they are really doing is that they are putting their careers ahead. Well, not Today, this trend has been going on for a while and we've already seen how this affects children, or even adults...

              • Grustaf 506 days ago

                The YC program is cash flow positive for you as an individual, that’s the point...

                Just fail fast and get back to your normal job, wiser and more experienced, and with a much improved CV.

              • smt88 506 days ago

                I’ll probably get downvoted for this, but I think it’s really important for you and your family.

                If you don’t have a big safety net (college money for kids, many months of living expenses, emergency fund, etc.) then don’t try to become a founder. You are almost guaranteed to fail (as all startups are). If your appetite for risk is low, don’t do it.

                There’s a lot of confirmation bias on HN (“I have small kids and started a company, so can you!”) but I’ve personally seen the other side of the coin, and it’s very ugly.

                • danenania 506 days ago

                  If you can get into a good accelerator like YC, it’s not that risky. You’ll have a good shot at raising more money after, and then worst case you have a couple years to work on something interesting under relatively financially comfortable (albeit stressful) conditions, learn a ton, and make a lot of valuable connections. Even if it doesn’t pan out, your career prospects are likely to improve, not get worse.

                  That said, without finding a way to raise money or bootstrap to profitability, you’re absolutely right.

                  • Grustaf 506 days ago

                    If you can get into YC therer is really no risk at all for you.

                    1. You have enough to cover your costs while in SF 2. If you are good enough to get in, you will never have a hard time to get back into employment 3. Having been accepted to YC will in fact boost your prospects afterwards.

                    Unless your situation at work is very unusual, there is no downside to getting accepted, only upside.

                    • godot 505 days ago

                      I trust that you have well intentions, but I'd like to dispute most of your points. (I was once a YC founder -- that startup had since been shut down)

                      1. YC's investment amount can cover your costs while in SF, but not much more than that. If you have family to support back home, it may not even be enough for that. If your startup didn't have other investments already, you're also on the hook to raise funds at the end of YC too, or else you're in another bad place.

                      2 & 3. Having been a YC founder on your resume does not make you a gold standard everywhere, you still pretty much go through the exact same hoops at interviews everywhere. I job-hunted after our YC startup shut down. It was not any easier than before YC. In fact, it seemed like it was harder (not because of YC experience but because the overall environment for software engineering interviews got a lot different than I last job-hunted 10+ years before that). In the end I landed at a place I'm very happy at now as a regular ol' senior engineer, but it was certainly not effortless.

                      Of course, YC is awesome and there is no downside for the company or yourself to getting accepted. But definitely not riskless if you have a family to support and you don't already have a lot of savings as safety net.

                      • quickthrower2 504 days ago

                        > 1. You have enough to cover your costs while in SF

                        What about your costs back home? You need to earn enough to live in SF plus pay for your food and mortgage etc. at home for your family. You really need some savings.

                        • Grustaf 504 days ago

                          Let's say you normally earn 120 k a year, or 10k a month. You and your cofounder share a studio in SF for 5k, then you need 10 + 10 + 5 = 25 k a month, meaning the YC money lasts you 4 months if you both had a good salary and don't want to compromise at all. If you are lucky enough to be earning more than 120 k now, then I'm sure you have 100+ stashed away by now, so it really should be a no-brainer for almost anyone.

                          In reality most people earn much less, and are willing to dial down their spending a bit for a few months, so I really don't think money is an issue for the vast majority of YC applicants.

                          • quickthrower2 503 days ago

                            The 100 stashed away is the issue though. Even if you have it, it might be rainy day money not for living expenses for a moonshot.

                    • rajacombinator 506 days ago

                      Agree with this. Founders with kids should stick to cash flow positive side businesses and only consider going all in when revenue is well proven and success seems very likely.

                      • democracy 506 days ago

                        Correct me if I am wrong but the funds YC gives you ( 150k USD ???) it is a great help - only if we don't have to move - but it sort of defies the point of being in the program, this is why looking for real life stories.