Older workers can play significant role in start-ups

Start-ups are the flavour of the month.

This is understandable, given that 2016 saw record venture capital investments in them in Singapore.

The Government has also been helping to support them through policies and funding.

With most reports highlighting youthful founders, one salient point is often missed: the opportunity to embrace the talent and potential of the older generation.

In the 2015 movie The Intern, a retired 70-year-old gets a job as an intern at an online fashion site. Although initially a fish out of water, he succeeds in winning the trust and respect of his younger co-workers.

Reel life can be real life too.

At aSpecial Media, our five-year-old data analytics start-up, we have hired two retirees.

One of them scours the digital world for the latest reports on news and trends in our industry, and shares these with our clients on our social media platforms.

The other looks at our realtime collection of data on people's waxing and waning interests, and summarises these for our customers.

Both of them, who were former print journalists, needed a bit of training when they started. But today, they represent a triple win.

Singapore gains from their continued contribution to the economy; our clients are helped by the writing, analytic and research skills they developed over the decades; and the pair are challenged and engaged in the "new world", keeping their minds sharp.

Founders of start-ups should consider bringing a retiree on board. It is not an act of charity. Rather, it would be doing their company a favour.

Paul Jansen

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 02, 2017, with the headline 'Older workers can play significant role in start-ups'. Print Edition | Subscribe