The Young Entrepreneur Myth

My colleagues at the Kauffman Foundation are on a roll. Following up fast on the heels of a paper last week on Fortune 500 companies, recessions, and startups, Dane Stangler at Kauffman is releasing a new paper today on entrepreneurs and age.

As we all, ahem, know, entrepreneurs are callow twenty-somethings. Except, as Dane shows, that isn’t true. Building, in part, on some research by another Kauffman colleague, Vivek Wadhwa, he shows that entrepreneurs’ average age skew considerably older than is accepted wisdom. (I made a similar point last week at a conference in New York, cheerfully lifting Vivek’s and Dane’s work to support my point.)


You can find the press release and full study here.


  1. Evidently, this report has done exactly what a report is supposed to do: generate debate. I guess I should apologize for the graphic (?); Sean Stickle made it into a 2D graphic but left off 2008, which shows the uptick for the oldest demographic subgroup. The backward looking data (rate of entrepreneurial activity; age of tech-company founders) is interesting in and of itself, and perhaps not too surprising. (Though if you claim to be not surprised by the result please tell that to the media who appear to think that only twenty-year-old college dropouts can start new companies.)

    But what I really wanted to get at, and perhaps should have emphasized more, is that this puts a potentially silver lining on the economy going forward (no pun intended). We tend to see an aging population as almost exclusively a bad thing, and the Social Security and Medicare reports don't do anything to contradict that perspective. But if we've got this large and growing pool of talent, experience, and entrepreneurial activity, that doesn't strike me as the fiscal albatross it's made out to be.

  2. The source report ( only goes up to 2007. Not sure where the 2008 data is from.

  3. The new report just came out; if the link is to the 2008 report, that's a mistake. Sorry, it should have been to this: