Cher Want co-founded HTC around 40 years old.
Cher Wang, pictured above, left her career in IT to co-found HTC in 1997, just shy of her 40th birthday.

Not all entrepreneurs are fresh out of business school. Many put in long years of hard work learning their industries and finding ways to improve or disrupt the status quo. The most successful startups are often headed by folks who leverage their experience and lessons learned. Here are eight founders who started their businesses in their thirties, forties and fifties.

Tory Burch, founder, Tory Burch

When Tory Burch was 38, she started a fledgling clothing line, opening her first store in Manhattan’s NoLiTa neighborhood. Little did she know her little experiment would become a full-fledged fashion house, with Tory Burch quickly becoming a household name among fashion lovers. Her eponymous company now operates more than 125 freestanding boutiques, and its products are sold in more than 3,000 department and retail stores across the globe.

Cher Wang, co-founder, HTC

Cher Wang had a long, successful career in information technology (IT) before she decided to co-found a company with Peter Chou in 1997, just shy of her 40th birthday. That company turned out to be HTC, the telecommunications giant that designs and manufactures mobile devices. Wang, whom Forbes listed in its 100 Power Women rankings, holds the position as CEO at HTC.

Evan Williams, co-founder, Twitter

Before Evan Williams co-founded Twitter in 2006, he had spent years working at other peoples’ companies including Google, where, Evans said during a TED talk, he worked on Blogger, among other projects. He left the technology giant in 2004, hoping to make it on his own. Yet success didn’t come right away for him. It wasn’t until 2006, when Evans was 34, that he and a few friends dreamt up the idea behind Twitter, the now-ubiquitous social media network where he served as CEO before eventually stepping down. He still made a killing on the company’s IPO, however, and has a net worth of $2.5 billion.

Martha Stewart, founder, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia

It takes a lot of gumption to name a company after yourself, but Martha Stewart isn’t your typical founder. Starting with a small catering company run out of her basement, Stewart worked her way to the top over her decades-long career, honing her carefully crafted brand and aesthetic to broaden her appeal. In 1997, at the age of 56, Stewart founded Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, the media and merchandising company that bears her name.

Travis Kalanick, co-founder, Uber

Kalanick came up with the idea for Uber after more than a decade into his professional career. From co-founding the company in 2009 until his resignation in 2017, Kalanick helped lead Uber toward unprecedented growth, earning an $18.2 billion valuation.

Reid Hoffman, co-founder, LinkedIn

Reid Hoffman is a serial entrepreneur. But like everyone else on our list, he didn’t hit the professional jackpot until he was well into his career. In 2003 at the age of 36, Hoffman officially launched LinkedIn, the professional social network he co-founded that got its start in his living room. Now worth an estimated $1.9 billion, Hoffman still servesdas chairman of LinkedIn until its sale to Microsoft in 2016.

Arianna Huffington, founder, The Huffington Post

Arianna Huffington was 55 when she founded The Huffington Post, which grew to become one of the 30 most highly trafficked websites in the U.S. The company was one of the first to anticipate the shift away from print and toward digital media, and it was among the most successful at cultivating a broad audience, driving millions of users to its affiliated sites. The strategy helped pave the way for a major acquisition, with AOL purchasing the web property in 2011 for $315 million.

Sam Walton, founder, Wal-Mart

Wal-Mart might now rank as the world’s largest retailer, but its origins are most definitely humble. According to The Guardian, Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton started his first store in Newport, Arkansas, with $20,000 he borrowed from his father-in-law. In 1950, the military veteran moved to Bentonville, where he opened another store, Walton’s 5&10. It wasn’t until 1962 that the 44-year-old Walton unveiled the first ever Wal-Mart, in Rogers, Arkansas. Walton presided over the retail conglomerate over the next decades, taking Wal-Mart public in 1970. Today, Wal-Mart employs more than 2.2 million associates and operates 11,000 outlets across the globe.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

CO—is committed to helping you start, run and grow your small business. Learn more about the benefits of small business membership in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, here.