Young entrepreneurs dominate the leaderboards of growing start ups, but research shows that the most successful entrepreneurs are rather middle-aged.
Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg were in their twenties when they launched their companies, and over the last ten years many start-up founders in their thirties have won awards and figures on top charts. It is therefore easy to believe that most successful entrepreneurs are young.
But behind the media image is another pattern, according to research described in the Harvard Business Review.
Four US researchers have analyzed the age of all corporate founders in the United States in recent years. The results show that the average age at start-up is 42 years.
But not all new companies have the ambition to become big. To be able to focus on high-tech start-up companies, the researchers have therefore weighed in variables such as patents, employee training or proximity to entrepreneur hubs such as Silicon Valley.
Despite the narrower criteria, it turned out that most who start a high-tech company are in their forties. This average age also applies in software development, although it is not uncommon for younger founders.
Even when the researchers analyzed the most successful start-up companies, a higher average age was seen. Among the companies with the best growth during the first five years, the founders were about 45 years old.
According to the researchers, there are several explanations that higher age can be an advantage in successful entrepreneurship, but the most critical factor is industry and professional experience.