I’ve been looking at the Thiel Fellowship. (Peter Thiel helped to start Paypal.)
You can get a $100,000 grant if you “want to build new things,” are 22 or younger, and not a student. In fact, you are required to drop out of school.
According to a new study, there is just one problem. Mr. Thiel might have been targeting the wrong age group.
Very Successful Entrepreneurs
We could say there are two groups of entrepreneurs. One kind just starts a business. A second group though wants to change the world. They will work 24//7 to implement an idea that requires risk and persistence,
Because Mark Zuckerberg or Steve Jobs would be in that second group, we could assume that highly successful entrepreneurs are in their twenties. Less constrained by the past, twenty-year-olds could be more innovative. They also might have fewer family distractions and more energy.
Using a massive data base, a new NBER study concludes that highly successful entrepreneurs are usually much older when they start their businesses. Equipped with extra years of learning, they accumulate more human, financial, and social capital. The result? The past becomes an entrepreneurial springboard.
Below you can see the data that correlates age with high performance startups:
Our Bottom Line: Creative Destruction
As an economist who described the impact of highly successful entrepreneurs, Joseph Schumpeter (1883-1950) explained how they upset the status quo. Calling the process creative destruction, he told us that old industries undergo a painful demise as newer entities nudge them out of existence.
Now we can add that creative destruction is fueled by an unexpectedly older group of entrepreneurs…
And we can wonder whether the Thiel Fellowship should be offered to midlife thinkers.