ENTREPRENEURIAL RESEARCH SHOWS EXPERIENCE TRUMPS YOUTH
Paradigm-shifting entrepreneurs in technology-based industries are older than you think, according to “Born lucky? A Study Of The Birthdates And Ages Of Paradigm-Shifting Entrepreneurs,” authored by Babson Professor Julian Lange, Babson Senior Lecturer Edward Marram, Ian Murphy Babson MBA 2011, Joel Marquis Babson MBA 2012, and Babson Professor Emeritus William Bygrave.
The researchers studied the age of entrepreneurs at the time when they started companies that made significant contributions to the birth and growth of the micro/personal computer industry. The researchers also looked at the birthdates of the entrepreneurs. The study was designed to test Malcolm Gladwell’s hypothesis that paradigm changers in that industry were born between 1953 and 1955 and were 25 years old or younger when they started their ventures.
• In contrast to Gladwell’s sample of just 2 companies - Microsoft and Sun Microsystems - and the 6 entrepreneurs who founded them, the Babson data set comprised 45 companies and 62 entrepreneurs.
• Unlike Gladwell’s six entrepreneurs, born between 1953 and 1955, these 62 entrepreneurs, including the Gladwell six, were born between 1929 and 1955.
• Their average age when they started their ventures was 34.
“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,” said the researchers.
“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.