By Jim Emerman
What’s the best way to create and fund startups? Jim Sugarman has two words for you: intergenerational entrepreneurship. A successful entrepreneur himself, Sugarman and his millennial daughter, Samantha, created 4GenNow last year to match older and younger entrepreneurs and help them find funding. In the interview below, Jim Sugarman answers Encore.org’s questions about the new venture.
Jim Sugarman and daughter, Samantha, present a check to Christian Dooley, co-founder of PocketChange.social
What inspired you to launch 4GenNow?
In the US, we create too few startups — and too many fail. A few years ago, I asked my daughter, who was a business student at Northeastern University at the time, what she thought about combining youth and experience among co-founders to launch intergenerational startups. Her reply: “Let’s give it a try.” So we did.
The mission of 4GenNow, our nonprofit organization, is to “create intergenerational collaboration, one startup at a time.” Our goal is not just to create more startups in the U.S. but to prepare them for long-term success.
Why do you think younger and older entrepreneurs need each other? What does each bring to a start-up?
When we think about diversity, we typically think of race and gender, but all startups can use generational diversity to become more successful and more attractive to angel investors.
Young entrepreneurs — with their positive force, fresh ideas and edgy attitude — may bring an intensely disruptive (but important) perspective to older ones. And younger entrepreneurs often bring a keen understanding and comfort level with technology. Seasoned entrepreneurs can bring a wealth of experiences, connections and life lessons that younger, less experienced entrepreneurs may lack.
Uniting youth and experience in a startup is a creative way to bridge the generational divide and narrow the entrepreneurship deficit in the U.S.
What’s the essence of the program — and how does it work?
We connect and match entrepreneurs (or aspiring entrepreneurs) from one generation with entrepreneurs from another generation to co-found intergenerational startups. And then we help the most promising intergenerational startups find funding.
There are 10 steps in our process — including a survey and phone call, the actual matching, preparation of a video and pitch deck, a virtual pitch to angel investors, and feedback from them. All of which, ideally, leads to funding.
In short: We find your intergenerational co-founder within six months and you “pitch” to our angel investors three months later.
Is there a cost to participate?
Yes. 4GenNow is a nonprofit, but we are trying to build a revenue stream. The cost to find your intergenerational co-founder within six months and then pitch to our angel investors is $495. If we can’t find an intergenerational co-founder in six months, we’ll provide a full refund.
The program is at an early stage. What successes have you had so far?
Over the past two years, we’ve worked to introduce the concept and build an intergenerational community of interested entrepreneurs. We educated nearly 500 entrepreneurs from four generations (Gen Z, Millennial, Gen X and Boomer) about the benefits of intergenerational entrepreneurship through in-person events in Denver. We developed an online LinkedIn community of more than 900 intergenerational entrepreneurs from 35 states and 23 countries who are looking for an intergenerational co-founder to launch and scale a startup. And we recently launched our premium “Match and Pitch” service. This year, 2019, is the year that we’ll begin to create intergenerational startups from within the 4GenNow community
What’s the first thing interested folks should do?
Photo courtesy of 4GenNow