Study: A profile of the U.S. tech entrepreneur

Study: A profile of the U.S. tech entrepreneur

Posted by Dawn Kawamoto /  CNET
May 1, 2008 10:17 AM PDT

Have you founded a tech company? 

Chances are, if you’re a U.S. entrepreneur, you’re about 39 years old
and hold a bachelor’s degree, and there’s a good chance your company
was started in the same state where you received your education,
according to a study released Thursday by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation and researchers from Duke and Harvard universities.

Based on a study of U.S. entrepreneurs who started their companies
between 1995 and 2005, the findings show the median age of U.S.-born
founders was 39 years old, with only 1 percent launching their company as teenagers.
For those in their 50s, there’s still hope–twice as many folks in this
age group founded a tech company than those in their early 20s,
according to the study.

The report also noted that 92 percent of U.S. entrepreneurs
surveyed received a bachelor’s degree, 31 percent a master’s degree,
and 10 percent a Ph.D. And then, you have folks like Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, who dropped out of Harvard in his junior year and, nonetheless, built a tech empire.

"Because entrepreneurship is an indicator of economic vitality in
regions and across the country, this study raises important policy
questions about how to foster greater tech entrepreneurship to boost
economic growth," Robert Litan, the Kauffman Foundation’s research and
policy vice president, said in a statement.

Graduates with an MBA degree founded tech companies within 13
years after getting their certificate, compared with folks with Ph.D.s,
who generally waited 21 years to venture out as a tech entrepreneur.
Maybe those with Ph.D.s wanted more time to research the notion of
becoming an entrepreneur, before sticking their neck out.

The study also found that 45 percent of tech entrepreneurs
started their venture in the same state where they received their

And here’s a little bit of quick math to consider when
selecting a university to get a higher-education degree: Start-ups in
2005 averaged sales revenue of $5.7 million and employed an average of
42 workers. Tech founders with advanced Ivy League degrees had
companies that averaged sales of $6.7 million with 55 workers.

So, if you’re going to attend college with the idea of starting
a tech company later, consider an Ivy League school in a state where
the cost of living is low because chances are good you’ll remain in the
area upon graduating, and employees often are the greatest expense to
operations. That’ll help with the profit margins, since going to an Ivy
League school may mean your revenue will be higher.

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