Nowadays, young entrepreneurs and fame often go together. Even more so when it comes to giant technology companies that have become an icon of the new economy and whose founders created them when they were in their twenties like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg. Cases like these have helped reinforce the myth that to create a startup you have to be a young genius with a brilliant idea that will revolutionize the market and put Wall Street at your feet. Nevertheless, research conducted at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), United States, revealed that the average age of a successful entrepreneur who founded a company in the country is actually 45 years.
To reach that conclusion, a team of experts studied an extensive database with information from the US Census Bureau, separating into groups the different types of companies, their trajectory since they were created and the age of the pioneers. From the total of companies, they selected those that approached a prototypical technological startup, considering factors such as whether the firm received financing from investors with Venture Capital (VC), if it registered patents and if a significant part of its workers were highly qualified in areas such as science, technology, engineering or mathematics.
They also considered whether the company was located in an innovation hub like San Francisco or London.
Those that met those requirements were analysed in detail and it turned out that, on average, the age of those responsible did not fall below 40 years.
However, the profile of the founders varies greatly depending on the type of industry. In the case of startups dedicated to software development, the average age is 40 years. But young entrepreneurs are also habitual. Young people are less common in markets such as oil, gas or biotechnology, where the average age is 47.
Then, why do we usually think that entrepreneurs are always young people?
The researchers believe that it is because they have a greater exposure in social networks and media, because even when they analyzed 0.1% of the startups with more growth in their first five years, they found again that the founders, on average, began their business venture at 45. Another relevant factor that strengthens this common belief is that younger entrepreneurs can be a better business for investors, and therefore attract more funding from risk-investments coming from VCs and business angels.
Experts believe that many venture capitalists put their money in startups that can give them better returns and not necessarily in those projects that have the greatest growth potential.
“It is possible that young founders have more financial restrictions than more experienced ones, and that leads them to deliver greater advantages to investors with lower prices.” That is, “younger entrepreneurs can be a better business for investors,” experts conclude.
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