I read some poorly done research the other day that showed a very small number of start-ups that became billion-dollar companies were started by people over 50. As someone else pointed out in the comments to it, that was lacking a key number, the denominator. That is, if people over 50 only started 20 companies, and 2 of them made a billion dollars, while people 25-35 started 10,000 companies and 20 of them made over a billion dollars, that still suggests that your odds are far better with the older crowd.
Regardless of the denominator, I don’t care that much. As a statistician, I am well aware that while statistics are great at predicting probability you cannot say anything with certainty about an individual case.
I was talking with The Invisible Developer one day about scheduling, cash flow and so on, and asked him,
“How long, realistically, given our current rate of spending, do you think we can continue development?”
Here’s the thing – all of the coding now is done by the two of us, and we managed to put enough away to live on in retirement. Three of our children are on their own doing fairly well. The Spoiled One received a significant scholarship to prep school and we already saved up for her college education.
So … at 55 and 58, respectively, we can easily work on developing these games for another 10 years. Being these ages, we have a ton of years of experience in programming, documentation, and other fields like statistics, mathematics and education. Think what it would cost you as the major expense for creating a game and it would be – developers. We can afford two full-time senior people before we have to bring in a dime of revenue. We can probably continue to support a part-time tech support person and a part-time administrative staff member indefinitely as well.
Now, of course, we would LIKE to make money and that is our plan. (The Spoiled One and our Chief Marketing Officer both remind us regularly that they would like us to make a LOT of money). Our employees would be unhappy if we shrank down to two part-time people plus us. The fact that I am writing this post at 11:30 on Saturday night in North Dakota, after spending much of the day writing improvements to the game tells you something about how serious I am – and The Invisible Developer is home working on another game.
Still, it appears to us a huge advantage that we have a relatively long runway. In addition to the funding we have received from the SBIR Phase I and Phase II awards and the Kickstarter funds, we are able to self-fund development for a really long time.
One of the more brilliant things we have done – for which I would love to take credit, but I have to admit the SBIR grant was an impetus – is to install the beta version of the game in a lot of schools. If we were just home coding, there might be a tendency to have a laid back attitude – but knowing that teachers in several states are having a problem with a part of the game introduces an urgency on getting in fixes. Because we do those fixes in-house, we can often do them in less than a week. The fixes the teachers requested on Wednesday will be done by Sunday night, tested by our fabulous game testers and installed in the schools on Wednesday of the upcoming week.
My point – which you may have despaired of me having – is that older entrepreneurs who have raised their children and secured their retirement, may be able to put in more time for a longer period, than younger founders. That ability to stick in the game makes them LESS of a risk.
The game is focused on mathematics for grades 3-5, but it’s also fun if you just want to tromp around in a virtual world set in North America in 1800s.