Editor's Letter: This Is What 35 Looks Like
Thirty-five is a good age to be an entrepreneur. You've still got the energy to pour your soul into a company, but you're old enough to have acquired some expertise and judgment-which, as an entrepreneur, you surely need. Research confirms that a little maturity helps. Among the fast-growing companies of the Inc. 500, founders over 35 outnumber Millennials nearly 3 to 1. It's true even in tech: Two-thirds of the successful tech companies surveyed by Duke's Vivek Wadhwa in 2008 had been founded by entrepreneurs age 35 and up.
Thirty-five is also a good age to be writing for entrepreneurs. Inc. reached that milestone this year, and we're kicking off the anniversary in earnest with this issue. Having survived so long is, at least, confirmation that Bernie Goldhirsh, our founding entrepreneur, was onto something when he gambled that business owners like him would support a publication focused on them. Thanks for proving him right.
Being 35 has its advantages. For one thing, we've been fortunate to play a role in business history. Michael Dell's return to entrepreneurship carries unique meaning, after all, given that we named him Entrepreneur of the Year 25 years ago. (Welcome back to our cover, Michael.) The founders of Boston Beer, Under Armour, Crate and Barrel, Patagonia, and Staples-to name a few of the other great leaders who appear in this month's cover story alongside Dell-were virtual unknowns when they debuted in Inc. Their reappearance in this issue as leaders of world-renowned brands gives us great satisfaction.
Being 35, we can also claim to bring some perspective to how entrepreneurship has changed. Over Inc.'s lifespan, technology has lowered the cost of starting up 95 percent, leading to an efflorescence of tech-enabled startups. In our early years, the quintessential Inc. company was SRC Holdings, a Midwestern manufacturer whose innovative founder, Jack Stack, pioneered open-book management. Today, it might be a company like Nico Sell's insurgent Wickr, which is setting out to overthrow entrenched Web incumbents like Facebook. The irony is that when we first wrote about Facebook in 2006, Zuckerberg was the insurrectionist. Things change.
But we've been around long enough to know that some things don't change. There comes a time in every entrepreneur's life-whether you make ultrasophisticated drones, like 3D Robotics, or plant-based eggs, like Hampton Creek-when you cease to be the great coder or idea person and become a leader. At that point, you build not only a product or service but also a purpose and a company culture that, if you get it right, makes the world better. That, at heart, is what entrepreneurs do. It's why, after 35 years, we feel as exhilarated about helping you do your job as we did when we began.
ERIC SCHURENBERG | Staff Writer | Editor-in-chief, Inc.
Eric Schurenberg is the president and editor-in-chief of Inc. Before joining Inc, Eric was the editor of CBS MoneyWatch.com and BNET.com and managing editor of Money Magazine. As a writer, he is a winner of a Loeb and a National Magazine Award.