Q. I am 27-years old who founded a startup. My goal is to find co-founders that are young and energetic. What are my chances with the right people? Is it all about hard work meets opportunity or something else?

27? Hmmm… a bit old for Silicon Valley! 🙂

> My goal is to find co-founders that are young and energetic. 

No, you should look for co-founders who are highly-skilled and motivated. There are plenty of 18-year olds, but if they lack skills, motivation, etc., they’re useless.

Despite the TV shows and movies, most startup founders are actually 35-45 year old; many are in their 50s. It takes time to get experience, skills, and connections.
I’m an advisor to nine startups. One is headed by an 18-year old; she raised $2m in 18 months and has a $50m valuation. Another startup is headed by a 21-year old. Both are v bright. The other startups are people in their 30s and 40s.
So ignore the movies. It’s not age. It’s skills and experience.
> My question is, with the right people, what are my chances. Is it all about hard work meets opportunity or something else?I’ve worked in Silicon Valley for 20 years now. I’ve worked at more than 30 startups and more than 275 projects. In general…
  • Connections. A great deal of success is based on solid connections to a wide range of people: engineers, marketing, sales, finance, legal, and investors, plus of course connections to other companies.
  • Skills: Your competitors are the top-of-the-class people from Stanford, MIT, CalTech, IIT, Tsinghua, etc. who are extremely bright, skilled, and experienced. So you need solid skills in what you do.
  • Work: You must dedicate at least ten hours per day for six days a week. I often work 14-hour days three or four times a week. The other days, I take it easy and work only 12 hours. But of course, I have a lot of experience in what I do, so it takes me a few hours what it would take another two weeks or more. So hours don’t matter: it’s the quality of the work. A good team of three or four can do more in a few weeks than a 200-person team at a large corp in six months.
  • Social Skills: On top of all of this, you must motivate and lead your team. Keep them on track and moving towards the goal. Resolve personal problems within the team. Yes, I know, Steve Jobs was a total jerk yet became a billionaire. However, for every Steve, there are hundreds of other highly-skilled jerks who go nowhere. The best example is William Shockley, who got the Nobel Prize for inventing the transistor, but was such a screaming jerk that his entire team quit. They went on to start Fairchild, Intel, AMD, Kleiner-Perkins, and an astonishing 65 more companies. They created Silicon Valley and several trillion dollars in valuation. Shockley got zero, in fact, he died alone and ignored.