A little about me: I was born in 1981 in China; I am married with a kid; I used to be a lot younger; And I want to be the next Steve Jobs. I have always wanted to be an entrepreneur and change the world… and become a reluctant billionaire in the meantime (it’s not about the money, but about the passion, right?). I remember Bill Gates visited Beijing in 95, and my 14 years old eyes sparkled and almost photokeratitised admiring at this living demi-god. He was so cool, so perfect, so delicious. I told myself, I want to be him one day. Then my entrepreneurial spirit went into hibernation due to the pressure from my family to find a job. College, work, graduate school, marriage, house, kid later, I all of a sudden woke up 30 years old one day. Damn it, I will never be on Inc.’s 30 Under 30 list! I cried to myself – if I don’t start my company now, I will never do it. So, with my wife’s support, I quit my job at a Fortune 50 company, and started my own tech startup – Hooplus (try it out, it’s cool). It’s been three months since I started my journey to build the next Google, and here are two words that describe my feeling – oh shit!
No, it’s not because startup is hard, although it is like climbing Mount Doom wearing a man thong. The reason is that I started reading books for inspiration, and I found I am now ancient in the startup world. Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs became entrepreneurs before they found hair in their armpits. Page and Brin founded Google before they could legally drink. Even Andrew Mason, the petulant child of tech CEOs, started Groupon at 28. At 31, if I apply for YCombinator today, I would be in Paul Graham’s “Really Old” folder, if not “LOL” folder. Am I too old to make it? Actually, I will make it (time to squeeze in the irrational confidence), but it’s just not as cool to be a 35 years old millionaire now days when there are 24 years old billionaires running around.
What’s worse is that you see guys like Drew Houston, Tony Hsieh and Daniel Ek give talks everywhere. They are attracted to stages with a couch and 400 eager audiences like Asians parents are attracted to piano recitals. They talk about how they started their first business at 12, went to Harvard because their parents forced them to, and want to ‘inspire’ everyone to be entrepreneurs. OK, if they just want to brag and collect groupies, they are right on the money. But if they really want to inspire, they are failing miserably. Not everyone is as young and genius as them. For the thousands of 30 some years old entrepreneurs, their stories aren’t helping.
I’m 31, entrepreneur, and where is my senior home?