Baby Boomers Prove Entrepreneurial Age Bias is Unfounded

Age bias is alive and well in the entrepreneurial community, but the latest research is proving that baby boomers are still making significant contributions to the start-up world.  It seems ideas don’t die with age, but mature with a mix of knowledge and experience.

Duke and Harvard studies

In 2008, a research team from Duke and Harvard began investigating successful technology firms.  Their criteria were the following:

  • Companies that survived out of the garage
  • Companies producing at least $1 million in revenue

Based on this criteria, research on these companies proved the median age of the company founders to be 39.  There were also twice as many older founders over 50 and 60 as compared to their younger counterparts at 25 and 20, respectively.  Follow-up research only solidified the thought that baby boomers are responsible for a high number of start-ups.  The project that studied 549 male entrepreneurs showed the median age to be 40 years old.

Kauffman Foundation research positive for baby boomers

The Kauffman Foundation researched data from the Kauffman Firm Survey and the Kauffman Index of Entrepreneurial Activity from 1996 to 2013.  Some of the data used in the research was from the U.S. Census.  The findings mirrored the work from the Duke and Harvard research team.  Results showed that founders between 55-64 started a higher percentage of businesses than people in their 20’s and 30’s.  The study also found the percentage of businesses started over the years to be rising.  In 1996, the business creation rate for the 55-64 age group was 14 percent, but in 2013 it was 24 percent.

What this research means for entrepreneurs

This research is great for baby boomers looking to start a company.  It proves they can be successful in their endeavors, but the most important take-a-way is for the younger generation.  The success rate of baby boomers is attributed to their industry experience and management skills.  If they can find a way to mature their skills with hands-on education, then their success rate might be able to compete with the baby boomers.