Young Upstarts

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Youth Is No Advantage For Technology Entrepreneurship: Babson

We often hear stories of amazing entrepreneurs who started out when they were young, especially those whipper snapper technology entrepreneurs, and often encourage people to start out early even if they were still in college. Well, according to the latest research study by Babson College, youth may not be so much of an advantage after all.

Babson professors recently conducted a study called “Born Lucky? A Study Of The Birthdates And Ages Of Paradigm-Shifting Entrepreneurs“, where they examined the ages of entrepreneurs at the time they started companies that made significant contributions to the birth and growth of the micro/personal computer industry. The researchers also looked at the birth dates of these entrepreneurs. And what they found was that paradigm-shifting entrepreneurs in technology-based industries tend to be older than what we usually think – the average age of these entrepreneurs when they started? 34 years old.

The study came about in response to Malcolm Gladwell‘s hypothesis in his book “Outliers: The Story of Success” that paradigm changers in that industry were born between 1953 and 1955, and tended to be 25 years old or younger when they started their ventures. Where Gladwell looked at only Microsoft and Sun Microsystems, the Babson study examined 45 companies and 62 entrepreneurs.

“It’s time to discard the ‘whippersnapper’ theory of entrepreneurship that has been popularized in the media because it does not work for high-tech startups in general,” the researchers concludes. “In a recent paper we reported the results of a comprehensive study of Babson College’s alumni entrepreneurs; among other things, we found that the best performing new ventures were started by alumni with about 10 years of professional experience after graduation — a finding that we think shows that the whippersnapper theory gives a misleading view that in entrepreneurship youth trumps experience,” they said.

So if you find yourself on the wrong end of the age curve when starting out, don’t be too discouraged.

Daniel Goh is the founder and chief editor of Young | Upstarts, as well as an F&B entrepreneur. Daniel has a background in public relations, and is interested in issues in entrepreneurship, small business, marketing, public relations and the online space. He can be reached at daniel [at] youngupstarts [dot] com.

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