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The Demographics of Entrepreneurs

August 3, 2009 by Luke Mason

The Kauffman Foundation’s recent study, “The Anatomy of Entrepreneurs,” offers some interesting insights into the backgrounds and make-up of entrepreneurs. One of the major conclusions is that most entrepreneurs are middle-class and well-educated.

“The commonly held belief that entrepreneurs are young college students working out of their dorms is simply wrong,” says author [Vivek] Wadhwa, the associate director of the Center for Entrepreneurship and Research Commercialization at Duke University and a senior research associate at Harvard Law School. “Rather, on average, they tend to be highly experienced, well-educated workers who have families. They have come to a stage in their lives when they are simply tired of working for others and want to build real wealth before they retire.” Wadhwa’s research team hopes to uncover not only entrepreneurs’ backgrounds, but also “the deeper formative factors that influence this select and incredibly important class of individuals.”

Researchers surveyed 549 entrepreneurs (i.e., founders of successful businesses in high-growth industries) for the study, and 95.1% of them had earned bachelor’s degrees while 47% had more advanced degrees.

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