Why Start-ups are like a meal at Friendly’s …

I occasionally grab a quick bite at Friendly’s family restaurants. I’ve been doing so since I was 12 – that’s more then 35 years. It’s far from a fine dining experience, by design. It’s decent food, served quickly. But, I’ll admit to liking their ice cream.

I’ve observed over the last decade or so that the place is run by kids! Teenagers, that seldom seem to use a razor blade (if they’re old enough to need one), don’t seem to know the difference between dressing sexy vs. delightfully trashy and for some reason feel the need to display youthful cleavage to a group of 9 years olds celebrating a birthday party with their friends. As I tell my wife, I can tell you blindfolded what day of the week it is inside a Friendly’s simply by the volume of the music.

I sound like a baby boomer don’t I? When I complain about the noise (music to their ears) I usually say “can you at least put on some Jimi Hendrix?”

Young people working at these coming of age jobs is nothing new. But the absence of more mature managers seems to have become the norm. One gets the impression that a sign of moving up the management ranks is signaled by a desire to totally delegate off-shift work assignments, weekend hours and holiday coverage to the “teens.”

I shared this observation with a former CEO of Friendly’s…..he told me that wasn’t a contributing factor to their declining revenues – yeah right.

In my own day-to-day job I meet a good many people. Investors, lawyers, accountants, etc. all of whom endlessly pursue tech-enabled start-ups. They, as well as the founders, believe their clients “idea’s” (not quite companies yet) will be the next IPO.  A YouTube, Google, Alibaba or Microsoft. These companies are easy to find. Many Universities these days promote start-ups and provide access to work space, academic mentors (there’s an oxymoron) and vulture capitalists through a very structured process.

Thus, meet the founders. They are very smart people. Accept the world is full of smart people eh? These “teenagers” appear to role out of bed and come to work. They seldom shave, don’t know how to dress for a day on the job, much less for a meeting with bankers, lawyers, accountants or VC’s. Why would they? They’re sought after as the geniuses they think they are.  Why buy pajamas, when you can sleep in your clothes and simply bounce out of bed and get on the train to work.

The iPod’s are never off, the plunging necklines are the norm and those are the founders! The bosses that are supposedly running the show. The place is being run by kids. So logic tells me – Friendly’s is the incubator for the tech start-up world!

  • I mean there’s some truth to this but at the same time some of those “children” have gone on to create some of the most valuable companies on the planet that are responsible for you even being able to post this diatribe here. And the smart ones all brought in adult supervision when they realized they needed to.

  • What are you crying for go hang at the retirement home. I bet you people from the 1800s where mad when you could see ankle on the street. They youth will define the future. They grow up with the access to do the work of the old get over your privilege.

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