5 Successful Entrepreneurs Who Didn’t Start Until Their 30s

Photo by Ben Rosett on Unsplash

If you’re a little further along in age, you might look at the culture of modern startups and think that it’s too late for you to get started. So often, we read stories of entrepreneurs in their early-to mid-20s (and sometimes entrepreneurs who got started in high school) who eventually built billion-dollar fortunes. And it’s true that there are some incredible youngsters out there who will see more success in the span of a few years than many of us will in a lifetime.

But there’s also no shortage of people who hit 30 and had virtually no money and/or no accomplishments, yet managed to start a business that turned their life around.

Here are just a few of their stories:

1. Tim Westergren

This new career didn’t pay much, but it did provide the foundation of an idea that turned into a forerunner of Pandora, the Music Genome Project. It wasn’t until 2007 that he created Pandora, and in 2010, he was named one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people.

2. Milton Hershey

Then, when he was 26, he started the Lancaster Caramel Company, but it wasn’t until 1893, when Hershey was 37, that his focus turned to milk chocolate, and the Hershey Chocolate Company was born.

3. Gordon Moore

Moore got his start when he was 27, joining up with seven other talented techies to create Fairchild Semiconductor. After a decade of corporate stagnation and frustration, Moore left and started his own business, Intel, with his partner Bob Noyce.

4. Jan Koum

He then worked at Yahoo! for nearly a decade, but quit at 30 to pursue something bigger. At 32, he started WhatsApp, and after a series of false starts and challenges, thought about shutting the company down. Thankfully, he didn’t, because, at 37, he sold WhatsApp to Facebook for a whopping $19 billion.

5. Jack Ma

After more than a dozen rejections, Ma started teaching English, for $12 a month. After visiting the United States at age 31, Ma realized what a massive opportunity there was for internet companies in China. He created two ventures that eventually failed, but, when he was 35, pulled together a group of friends to gather investments for his online marketplace idea. This would later turn into Alibaba. At the end of 2017, Jack Ma was worth $46.6 billion, a major step up from his previous $12-a-month salary.

It doesn’t matter if you’re 20, 30, 40 or older: If you have a solid idea, the passion to follow through on it and access to the resources you need to get things done, you too can become a successful entrepreneur at any age.

Certainly there are pros and cons to getting started at any age, such as the inexperience of youth or the low risk-tolerance of age, but with the right mentality and knowledge of the stakes, it’s possible to turn things in your favor.

For more content like this, be sure to check out my podcast, The Entrepreneur Cast!

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