Iconic Tour

Sam Adams founder: Being a 67-year-old entrepreneur has its benefits

Samuel Adams brewer and founder Jim Koch listens to small business owners during a speed coaching session at the Boston Beer Company small business loan and business-coaching program in Denver.
Karl Gehring | The Denver Post | Getty Images

Despite a cultural idolatry of 20-something entrepreneurs, youth is not everything in the world of building businesses.

Jim Koch launched The Boston Beer Company out of his kitchen when he was 34. Now, the 67-year-old is still running the brewhouse behind Sam Adams beer. He's got a few more gray hairs than he had when he started the company, but he's also got a lot more tools in his toolbelt.

"One big difference is a sense of equanimity," said Koch of the difference in being an entrepreneur in his 30s versus his late 60s, in an interview with CNBC at the Iconic conference in Boston in September.

"I realize this is a roller coaster," he said. "You're going to have great euphoric days and you're going to have miserable days, and you just have to enjoy the good times, survive the bad times and not freak out about it."

Since Koch (pronounced "Cook") started the business in 1984, he has grown the company to a market cap of more than $2 billion, and in 2014 and 2015 the sixth-generation brewmaster became a billionaire based on the company's stock price.

Despite Koch's soaring success, running and growing a company has never gotten easier.

How Jim Koch brewed his way to success

"It's almost 33 years later, it's never been easy," said Koch. "I've got news for you: If you're an entrepreneur, you challenge yourself all the time, and you're always going to have to work your butt off. It's OK. That's why we started these businesses."

Part of what allows Koch to maintain a level of calm despite decade after decade of hard work is that he is not in it for the money. To be sure, he has been successful, but Koch isn't driven solely by a desire to get rich. He loves craft beer, and his business employs over 1,500 people, more than 1,400 of which are full-time employees.

"You do gain some perspective" over time, said Koch. "I've learned that you're doing this not to get rich but to be happy. Because the money becomes not so meaningful after a while — particularly more money doesn't mean anything."

More from iCONIC:
Sam Adams founder Jim Koch describes the moment he found out he was a billionaire
Self-made billionaire Jim Koch says this book taught him more than Harvard did
Boston Beer CEO: A key skill Harvard didn't teach me