Debunking the dorm-room entrepreneur

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The image of the 20something Silicon Valley millionaire has been one of the major industry stereotypes of the past few decades.

Microsoft’s Bill Gates and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg both dropped out of Harvard to launch their tech giants. Larry Page and Sergey Brin were still in their 20s when they started Google – as were the founders of Apple, YouTube, and Digg.

But a new study of the industry has some good news for this year’s crop of college graduates: Take your time – you’ve not missed your chance to change the world! The median age at which American tech entrepreneurs launch their companies: 39.

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The research, funded by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, looked at US engineering and technology companies that were founded between 1995 and 2005 and earn in at least $1 million.

Not only is the median age higher than expected, but entrepreneurs who were older than 50 outnumbered those younger than 25 by more than 2-to-1.

The analysis also looked at how long it took for graduates to launch their tech firms. On average, entrepreneurs with an MBA take 13 years after graduation to start their company. There’s a 17-year lag for those with only a bachelor’s degree and 21 years for people with a PhD.

[Via Chronicle of Higher Education]

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