Founder Friday: Silver start-up boom expected in 2024

A group of Virgin StartUp founders in a meeting around a long table
Virgin StartUp
Natalie Clarkson
by Natalie Clarkson
9 January 2024

2024 is set to see a boom in silver start-ups, with increasing numbers of people over 55 looking to set up their own businesses, according to new research from Virgin StartUp.

A survey of 2,000 UK adults found that a third of Brits aged 55 and over want to start a business, with nearly a quarter having already set up or taken steps towards starting their own business in the past year.

However, more than two-thirds of those over 55 who have thought about starting a business are unsure when to take the leap but they remain inspired, and more than a fifth said they are willing to switch financial security for a more fulfilled life.

Virgin StartUp, Virgin’s not-for-profit hub for early-stage business founders, has distributed £75 million in Start Up Loans to more than 5,500 UK founders in the past 10 years and saw a 10% increase in Start Up Loan applications from founders over the age of 50 in 2023. The business incubator is predicting an even better year for silver start-ups in 2024.

The team from Virgin StartUp
Virgin StartUp

55-year-old Moshin Ravjani is one of the founders who received a Start Up Loan through Virgin StartUp to expand his social enterprise, ChangeAhead. He said that the wisdom that comes with age has been a great advantage in running his business. He added: “Leveraging a lifetime of accumulated skills and a rich network of connections, starting a business in my later years has proven to be a perfect blend of passion and seasoned expertise.”

While start-ups are often thought of as a younger person’s game, 38% of people surveyed agreed that with age comes great experience, which is beneficial when setting up a new business. More than a third of those aged 55 and over think that their age means they’ll have a better understanding of their skills and what they enjoy, and a third referenced having a good network to support them.

With age and experience comes confidence – nearly half of those in the 55+ age group said they feel confident to start a business. Plus, just 16% of those in that age group said that self-doubt might prevent them from starting their business venture.

Virgin- Start Up Team at work.
Virgin StartUp

“You really are never too old to try something new and start your own business,” Andy Fishburn, Managing Director at Virgin StartUp, said. “As the working population continues to get older, it’s natural that this generation is starting to look at how it can make the most of the next chapter of their career. There’s often the misconception that young age brings with it a fearlessness to try something new, but with the right idea, passion, and determination, it doesn’t matter how old you are. Skills are learnt through trial and error, but with age comes experience.

“We saw an increase in older founders taking out a Start Up Loan to fund their business ideas last year and we expect this to continue into 2024. Start Up Loans are often easier to secure and come with more support and lower interest rates than other funding methods, so this may be one reason why they’re growing in popularity among the over 55s.”

When it comes to exploring new business ventures, January is the most popular month for Brits to think about launching a business. The new year is a time for reflection and intention-setting, which is why Virgin StartUp has dubbed 12 January Founder Friday – the day when there will be a surge of budding entrepreneurs looking to start their business adventure.

Virgin StartUp is running a Founder Friday hotline, a free business support hotline, for anyone – whatever their age – who is thinking about launching a business. Visit to book a 30 minute slot with an experienced business advisor to take the first steps towards making your business idea a reality.