Multigenerational Fusion: How Startups, Enterprise Businesses, and Mentorship Shape the Future

By Kelly Daubach, ACC, RD

As I embarked on my journey as Program Manager at the UCF Business Incubation Program, just a few months ago, I have shared my gratitude and enthusiasm for the welcoming of this community and the energy that surrounds this “City Beautiful”.  Orlando and Central Florida are well-positioned with leadership, creativity, and resources in our economic development plan.  That said, I too notice the workforce undergoing a transformation like never before.  Even my daughter has an opportunity to take an elective class, in video gaming in middle school!

As Baby Boomers retire, automation disrupts job roles, and an increasing number of startups emerge, the dynamics are evolving at an unprecedented pace.  I thought it would be prudent for me to have a better understanding and exploration of the role of start-ups in fostering innovation and bridging generational divides while addressing values, purposes, and inclusive approaches needed to embrace the change effectively.

Startups are often leading the pack driving innovation in the business world.  These dynamic, smaller organizations are often characterized by their agility, risk-taking tolerance, and eagerness to challenge the status quo.  They also play a pivotal role in shaping the future of work.

Generational Workstyles and Values

  1. Baby Boomers: While boomers are being less represented in start-ups due to their focus on stability and the stage of their career, those who do participate bring extensive experience to the table. Their mentorship is invaluable in guiding younger entrepreneurs.
  2. Generation X: Gen Xers, often founders of start-ups, excel in balancing innovation with practicality. Their leadership style encourages adaptability and a focus on results.
  3. Millennials: Millennials are prominent in the start-up scene, driven by a desire for purpose-driven work and a commitment to making a difference. They infuse starts up with fresh perspectives and a digital-first approach.
  4. Generation Z: The youngest generation in the workforce, is a natural fit for startups due to their innovative thinking, comfort with technology, and enthusiasm for change.

Bridging Generational Divides in Start-Ups

  1. Collaborative Mentorship: Startups can leverage the expertise of the more experienced workforce as mentors, fostering an environment where the younger generations learn from their experience while bringing fresh ideas to the table.
  2. Inclusivity and Competitive Advantage: Diversity of thought and experience can be a powerful driver of innovation in startups.
  3. Embrace Multigenerational Leadership: Promote a diverse leadership team that incorporates the strengths of each generation, ensuring a well-rounded approach to decision making.
  4. Lifelong learning: Encourage continuous learning and skill development for all employees.
  5. Balance tradition and Innovation: Startups can benefit from Gen X’s ability to balance tradition with change, providing stability while fostering innovation.
  6. Embracing Technology: Leverage technology, including AI and automation, to streamline processes and allow all employees to focus on creative and strategic tasks by TEACHING them how to innovate!

Startups are not just disruptors in the business world: they are also a catalyst for bridging generational divides and driving innovation.  By recognizing and harnessing the unique values and skills of each generation, startups can be a ‘poster child’ for the future of a dynamic, inclusive and agile workforce.  In doing so they can more rapidly contribute to the growth and economic development as a whole; HOWEVER, they can no do so without the partnerships, mentoring, and support from our existing economic leaders.  So here we come full circle, and I’m asking you if you read this far, to consider how this article may apply to your role, or your business, or the company you work for.  If it sparks a desire for you to become a mentor, or perhaps you are with an established company looking to engage and support start-ups, I am here for your connection! Please reach out to learn more about how together we can create “UNBELIEVABLY REAL” (Orlando’s New Global Brand: VisitOrlandoBrand) innovation and change!

Cheering for your success today and always,

Kelly Daubach, ACC, RD

The University of Central Florida Business Incubation Program is a community resource that provides early-stage companies with the tools, training, and infrastructure to become financially stable, high-growth/impact enterprises. Since 1999, this award-winning program has provided vital business development resources resulting in over 300 local startup companies reaching their potential faster and graduating into the community where they continue to grow and positively impact the local economy.

With eight facilities throughout the region, the UCF Business Incubation Program is an economic development partnership between the University of Central Florida, the Corridor, Orange, Osceola, Seminole, and Volusia Counties, and the cities of Kissimmee, Orlando, and Winter Springs. For the 2017/2018 fiscal years, the activities of these participating firms have helped to sustain more than 6,725 local jobs and have had a cumulative impact of over $725 million on regional GDP and over $1.3 billion on regional sales. During the same period, the program has returned more than $12.00 in state and local taxes for every $1.00 invested in the program. In addition, for every $1.00 of public investment, the firms also produced $118 of additional regional GDP and $226 of regional sales. For more information, visit