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Do you need domain expertise before launching your startup?

A few months ago I read that the average age of a successful venture backed founder is around 37 years old. Keeping this fact in mind I wonder how important it is to have a good amount of experience before launching your startup.

9 Replies

Chris Boardman
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Chris Boardman Entrepreneur
Founder at Chris Boardman Media Group
Depends. Hard to raise money if you have little experience.
Etienne J Coulon
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Etienne J Coulon Entrepreneur
Co-Founder at PointGreen Business & PointGreen Solution
A company who starts needs a team with the total sum of skills and experience there. It can be across a few people, not one person.
Actually I personally think that a team can do better than 1 person, especially when people know where they're good at
Sidney Sclar
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Sidney Sclar Entrepreneur
SID the SECURITY PRO at sidthesecuritypro.com
One that does a start up at a minimum needs a credible support team that fills in the voids and is willing to be part of the team.
Josh Kirschner
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Josh Kirschner Entrepreneur • Advisor
Founder & CEO at Techlicious
Well, think of it from the investor's perspective. If someone came to you asking for funding and said, "I've never done this before, but...", how likely would you be to give them your money? So if you don't have the domain experience, you better have a very good answer for why that doesn't matter. Or find people to round out your team who have that experience.
Joanan Hernandez
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Joanan Hernandez Entrepreneur
CEO & Founder at Mollejuo
You don't need domain expertise to endeavour into something. As a matter of fact, disrupters often come from outside those industries and that's precisely why the disrupt the industry: because they don't have the bad habits from having the expertise in the affected industry.

What you do need is the discipline to execute. This discipline doesn't have anything to do with age or experience, is a related with the personality of the entrepreneur. That said, experience (age wise) and knowledge, never hurts to have.

Best of lucks!
Robert Warren
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Robert Warren Entrepreneur
Founder and Managing Director, Mean Eyed Cat Venture Labs
Entrepreneurship is a team sport so it's always best to have someone on the team who understands the industry and the players. This can help cut your time to market and revenue plus help you avoid problem areas. Yes, this person can be tainted by the industry's think but as the lead entrepreneur it's up to you to sell them on the way you want to do it and keep them on track.
Paul Garcia
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Paul Garcia Advisor
President at TABLE
If you torture the numbers enough, they'll confess to anything. That's how I feel about averages. The average household income is a number representing thousands of poorer people against a handful of ultra rich people. It's not an even distribution. You can point anecdotally to all kinds of exceptions to the typical.

Aside from the "averages," domain expertise in your industry is rather important. It's going to offer you the insight to understand your competitor, your buyer, and your place among them. It saves time (and money) investigating things you would learn by participating. It ensures you have the vocabulary to be credible in your segment. And it's often what reliably helped you discover the opportunity to start a business in the first place. If you're jumping into an area where you only perceive a need but have no direct experience, you've likely already made a mistake that could cost a lot of money. At least be closely related. Again, not that there aren't exceptions to the rule...but as Josh and Chris pointed out, if you're asking other people for money, credibility will be a factor in deciding whether to invest. Investors expect you to protect their money from mistakes, so they want to trust you've already learned what mistakes not to make.
Ema Chuku
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Ema Chuku Entrepreneur
Designer. Product Developer. Founder @ NuPad
Think of that "age" number as the measure of time elapse it takes to gain an experience and wisdom to produce something successfully.

That said, domain expertise does not guarantee success or needed as a requirement, however it is very crucial in gaining success with less mistakes et al.


Sebastien Mirolo
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Sebastien Mirolo Entrepreneur
Subscription Product Engineering
Maturity might be more like it. Age 37 is often the time where people start to deflate their ego and would focus on building a business rather than racing fast cars and chasing the limelight.

Domain expertise is useful but not as much as knowing history of a specific industry, how things evolved the way they have, assumptions people made years ago that might not be true Today.
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