When many aspiring entrepreneurs think of a startup founder, they usually imagine dropping out of college with a great idea, plenty of passion, and time to let the tough times get through.
However, in the case of startup founders, the cliché doesn’t quite seem to represent the reality. In fact, there are a few surprising startup stats that point in the opposite direction when it comes to the common traits of a successful startup founder.
First, while the college dropout myth is still widely present in startup culture thanks to the story of people like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and Mark Zuckerberg, dropping out of college to start your own company is certainly the exception rather than the exception. Al-Qaeda.
The founders are not college dropouts
A study conducted by EMK showed that 95% of entrepreneurs have at least a bachelor’s degree.
While it is possible to start a company and drop out of college once it becomes successful and requires a lot of your time, this is very rare. Most entrepreneurs do not start a company in college, and even those who do do not usually have a business in their hands that would justify giving up their education.
Considering that most startup projects fail to gain much traction, it is generally not a smart move to suspend your education in order to devote your full attention to a startup project that is not actually a business yet.
On average, tech founders aren’t kids
While the geeky young prodigy makes for a great media story, another EMK study shows that the average age of a tech startup founder is 39 years old.
This does not mean that college-age people do not become good startup founders. On the contrary, the period in life when there are fewer responsibilities (without a family and most importantly – children) is one of the best periods for starting a risky business. Surviving on ramen is an easier option to take when your diet is what you need to be concerned about.
However, this era has its drawbacks: a lack of professional experience and the inability to access a strong social network and capital.
In fact, a 2018 study shows that a 60-year-old entrepreneur is three times (!) more likely to build a successful startup than a 30-year-old founder. A 40-year-old founder is 2.1 times more likely to be successful than a 25-year-old founder.
So, college-age founder is not only less common than expected but the likelihood of it being successful is much lower.
While there is a romantic notion that the younger generation is in touch with new trends while the older generation is not, it is questionable whether this is an important prerequisite for starting a successful business.
However, having access to a strong social network and access to capital is undoubtedly a huge advantage, and people in their sixties have four decades in this regard compared to college-age founders, which is evident in the data.
This is why engaging a mentor is a critical component to the success of any first time founder.
In short, if you are at a later stage in your life, you should not think that tech startups are just for college kids. On the contrary – you may have a huge advantage compared to the young founders.
And if you’re a first-time founder yourself, you shouldn’t underestimate the experience. The best thing you can do for your project is to involve someone who has long term experience in the industry.