Many observers, and many investors, believe that young people are especially likely to produce the most successful new firms. Integrating administrative data on firms, workers, and owners, we study startups systematically in the U.S. and find that successfull entrepreneurs are middle-aged, not young. The mean age at founding for the 1-in-1,000 fastest growing new ventures is 45.0. The findings are similar when considering high-technology sectors, entrepreneurial hubs, and successful firm exits. Prior experience in the specific industry predicts much greater rates of entrepreneurial success. These findings strongly reject common hypotheses that emphasize youth as a key trait of successful entrepreneurs.
Javier Miranda is Principal Economist at the U.S. Census Bureau where he began his career in 1998. Javier received his Ph.D. in Economics from American University in 2004. Previous to joining the Census Javier was a research consultant at the World Bank and the Urban Institute. Javier has published papers in the areas of industrial organization, technological change, job creation, entrepreneurship and firm financing. Among his publications are articles in the American Economic Review, Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Journal Macroeconomics, Review of Economic and Statistics, IMF Review, World Bank Economic Review, Journal of Business Valuation and Economic Loss, NBER Macroeconomics Annual, and multiple books and chapters. Javier received the Director's Award for Innovation (2007) and the U.S. Department of Commerce Bronze Medal (2011). His contributions to data infrastructure are notable. Javier Miranda is responsible for the development of the Longitudinal Business Database and the Business Dynamics Statistics and is the Synthetic Longitudinal Business Database v3. Together with the USPTO Javier has led the development the Business Dynamics Statistics of Innovative Firms a longitudinal database of firms, patents, and inventors. Javier Miranda is also President of the Board of SEM an adult education and job readiness program designed to address the root causes of poverty, illiteracy, and violence in Washington DC.