In a new study, Jones, along with Javier Miranda of the U.S. Census Bureau and MIT's Pierre Azoulay and J. Daniel Kim, use an expansive dataset to tackle that question. The researchers find that, contrary to popular thinking, the best entrepreneurs tend to be middle-aged. Among the very fastest-growing new tech companies, the average founder was 45 at the time of founding. Furthermore, a given 50-year-old entrepreneur is nearly twice as likely to have a runaway success as a 30-year-old.
Here are a couple more intriguing statistics from their research:
- The average age of the founder of one of the fastest-growing tech companies in their massive sample was 45 years old.
- The average age of the founder of firms that achieved successful exits either through IPO or acquisition was 46.7 years old.
Why is it important to debunk the popular myth about millennials and successful tech startups? First, we have to consider the biases that might shape investor decisions. Might some be inclined to think that the best ideas come from founders in their 20's and perhaps find themselves biased against older entrepreneurs? Second, we have to consider how the myth might discourage older individuals from taking the risk to launch a startup. I applaud the authors for such an extensive study that shines a light on the actual experience of successful tech startups and their founders.