Despite the common stereotype of the fresh-faced, young entrepreneur who launches a business out of college, you’re never “too old” or too far along in your career to start a business.
Research shows that entrepreneurs in their 50s succeed at approximately the same rate as those in their 20s. Additionally, seasoned professionals tend to have more lived experience and connections, both of which support business resilience and growth. Here are nine successful startups that were founded by people over the age of 50.
The Blissful Dog
Kathy Dannel Vitcak’s professional and personal experience with four-legged friends helped spark the idea for her business’s flagship product: a salve for dry dog noses. Seven years after her 2003 launch, Dannel Vitcak took on The Blissful Dog full-time in lieu of retirement at age 54. The pet care brand now boasts an extensive line of grooming products, including body butter and aromatherapy sprays.
[Read more: Starting a Business Later in Life? Here’s What You Need to Know]
Bounce Children’s Foundation
Entrepreneur Joan Steltmann spent nearly 20 years climbing the ranks as a marketing executive in the tech industry before working in the nonprofit sector for several years. Inspired by that nonprofit work, Steltmann launched Bounce Children’s Foundation near her 50th birthday. The organization provides care packages, community events and education programs for children with chronic illnesses, as well as their families.
Cool-jams founder and CEO Anita Mahaffey channeled her life experiences into a business model. After suffering hot flashes and subsequent sleep problems, the textile expert worked to develop a moisture-wicking, quick-drying fabric for her pajamas. The first Cool-jams collection launched in 2007, the same year Mahaffey turned 50, and the brand now boasts a range of temperature-regulating pajamas and bedding.
With decades of experience in the medical industry, physicians Martin Dawes and Mark Gelfer — both in their 60s — joined forces to launch medical tech startup GenXys. The company provides precision prescription software to help medical professionals make informed decisions, reduce errors and cut down on healthcare costs.
Cool-jams founder and CEO Anita Mahaffey channeled her life experiences into a business model.
Gabi Szbadi, a 66-year-old entrepreneur, wanted to solve a significant problem in the construction industry: the high number of accidents that occur on large-scale projects. His tech startup iOTProximity leverages the abilities of AI smart cameras, sensor fusion, lidar/radar and electromagnetism to create 360-degree virtual safety barriers around job sites.
Inspired by her desire to pass on the art of traditional Indian cooking, Jaswant Kular began preparing spice blends for friends and family at the age of 60. After selling out at a food festival exhibition, Kular and her three daughters launched Jaswant’s Kitchen, where they continue to sell the now-famous spice and seasoning blends.
When Rob Urry retired in 2012, he bought a trailer and began traveling throughout his home state of Utah and beyond. Disappointed with the trailer lighting options on the market, Urry emerged out of retirement to design his own products. At the age of 52, he and his business partner started Kogalla, a high-performance adventure and travel lighting brand.
Entrepreneurs Colleen and Jim Seiler had over 25 years of experience in the odor control industry. When a friend was prescribed medical cannabis to manage cancer symptoms, she turned to the couple for help in masking the smell. The Seilers, both over 50 at the time, put their retirement on hold to create Kushley. Their line of organic candles, sprays and other personal care products eliminate environmental odors.
[Read more: Digital Marketing Checklist—All the Digital Tools Your Startup Needs Before Launch]
Jaleh Bisharat worked in the C-suite of business giants like Amazon before launching her own business. The entrepreneur co-founded beauty brand NakedPoppy at the age of 59, inspired by her own passion for clean beauty. The Silicon Valley-based company offers customers curated clean makeup and skincare products.
NShore Patient Advocates
After a life-threatening medical emergency nearly took her father-in-law’s life, Teri Dreher realized that the medical system needed a change. The former intensive care unit nurse shifted to the world of healthcare advocacy and launched NShore Patient Advocates at the age of 56. The Chicago business aims to keep the patient at the center of the healthcare system by providing consultative services and advocating for clients’ needs.
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Published November 01, 2021