Entrepreneurship – What’s Age got to do with it?

Is there any correlation between Entrepreneurship and Age? What is the ideal age to start a venture and scale to a billion dollar enterprise? Guest author, Pareekh shares his research

[Is there any correlation between Entrepreneurship and Age? What is the ideal age to start a venture and scale to a billion dollar enterprise? Guest author, Pareekh shares his research].

With above questions in mind, I randomly picked few famous first generation entrepreneurs and researched the age when they started their business.

In 50 years span (Age 17 – Age 66), for every year we can find an entrepreneur who started a reputable enterprise. More than 90% of these enterprises turned out to be billion dollar enterprise.

Let us divide this 50 years age span into two groups

  • (Age 17 – Age 33) – Early Executor
  • (Age 34 – Age 66) – Late Bloomers

Early Executors

  • Age 17: Ingvar Kampard (1943) started IKEA
  • Age 18: Ted Waitt (1985) started Gateway
  • Age 19: Michael Dell (1983) started Dell; Joyce Hall (1910) started Hallmark Cards
  • Age 20: Mark Zuckerberg (2004 ) started Facebook
  • Age 21: Bill Gates (1976 ) started Microsoft; Steve Jobs (1976) started Apple
  • Age 22: Walt Disney (1923) started Disney, Richard Branson (1972) started Virgin
  • Age 23: Vishal Gondar (1999) started India Games
  • Age 24: Karsanbhai Patel (1969) started Nirma
  • Age 25: Larry Page (1998) started Google; Kiran Mazumdar(1978) started Biocon
  • Age 26: Uday Kotak (1985) started Kotak Mahindra; Phil Knight (1964) started Nike
  • Age 27: Jerry Yang (1995) started Yahoo; Sam Walton (1945) started Wal-Mart
  • Age 28: Pierre Omidyar (1995) started eBay; Ralph Lauren (1967) started Polo
  • Age 29 : Rajendra Pawar (1981) started NIIT;, Nolan Bushnell (1972) started Atari
  • Age 30: Jeff Bezos (1994 ) started Amazon
  • Age 31 : Shiv Nadar (1976) started HCL; Ramesh Chandra (1972) started Unitech
  • Age 32 : Oprah Winfrey (1986) started Oprah; Ross Perot (1962) started EDS
  • Age 33 : Warren Buffet (1963) started Berkshire; Larry Ellison (1977) started Oracle

Late Bloomers

  • Age 34: Charles Schwab(1971) started Schwab; S. Shetty(1993) started AllCargo
  • Age 35: NR Murthy (1981) started Infosys; March Benioff (1999) started Sales Force
  • Age 36: Dhirubhai Ambani (1958) started Reliance
  • Age 37: J Mckinsey(1926) started Mckinsey; Dave Thomas(1969) started Wendy
  • Age 38: Jim Clark (1982) started SGI
  • Age 39: M. Bloomberg (1981) started Bloomberg; Gorden Moore (1968) started Intel
  • Age 40: Martin Sorell(1985) started WPP;George Soros(1970) started Quantum Fund
  • Age 41 : Raman Roy ( 2000) Spectramind; Thomas Siebel (1993) started Siebel
  • Age 42 : Ajit Balakrishnan(1995) started Rediff;Reed Hastings(1997) started Netflix
  • Age 43 : Richard Egan(1979) started EMC; Naresh Goyal(1993) started Jet Airways
  • Age 44: Jerry Rao (1998) started Mphasis; Leo Burnett (1925) started Leo Burnett
  • Age 45 : Marry Kay Ash (1963) started Marry Kay
  • Age 46 : Capt. Gopinath(1997) started Deccan; Arthur Little(1909) started AD Little
  • Age 47: Rana Kapur (2004) started Yes Bank; G R Naidu (1985) started Amar Raja
  • Age 48: Bruce Henderson (1963) started BCG; KP Singh (1979) started DLF
  • Age 49: Vikram Talwar (1999) started EXL; Graeme Clark (1983) started Cochlear
  • Age 50: Leo Goodwin (1936) GEICO; Bernard Marcus (1979) started Home Depot
  • Age 51: Ashok Soota(1999) started Mindtree;Taikichiro(1955) started Mori buildings
  • Age 52 : Ray Kroc (1954) started Mcdonald; DS Barar (2004) started GVK Bio
  • Age 53: Barry Diller (1995) started IAC
  • Age 54: Prannoy Roy (2003) started NDTV
  • Age 55 : TMA Pai (1953) started Manipal University
  • Age 56: Anita Crook ( 2005) started Pouchee
  • Age 57: J Marriott(1957) started Marriott Hotel;J McGraw(1917) started McGraw Hill
  • Age 58: Orville(1969)started Redenbacher;A Hammer(1956)started Occidental Petro
  • Age 59 : Barbara Miller (1995) started Miller Papers
  • Age 60: Jack Fenimore (1983) started Mid Com
  • Age 61: Carmen Jones (1977) started Kids Corner
  • Age 62: Col. Sanders(1952) started KFC; Joseph Glidden(1875) started Barb Fence
  • Age 63: Henry Kaiser (1945) started Kaiser Permanente
  • Age 64 : Thomas Duck (1977) started Ugly Duck
  • Age 65: Capt. Krishnan Nair (1988) started Leela Hotels
  • Age 66 : Jagdish Khattar (2009) started Carnation

Some interesting observation from studying the sample of above listed entrepreneurs (with caveat of biased sampling and over simplification)

Early Executors’ Traits:

  • Profile: Some entrepreneurs are college drop outs, whiz kids, early salesman…
  • Sectors: New Industry Sectors such as Software, Web, Computers, Biotech, Investing, Entertainment
  • Industry Trait: High Risk & High Reward Industries,Product oriented,Winner takes all
  • Funding: Angel Funding and later Venture Capital FundingBold
  • Wealth: Their average lifetime wealth is more than that of Late bloomers

Late Bloomers’ Traits

  • Profile: Corporate Executives, Bureaucrats, Professors, Inventors turned entrepreneurs
  • Sectors: Traditional Sectors such as Retail, Food, Hotel, Publishing, Education, Advertising, Management Consulting, IT Services, BPO, Media, Airlines, Pharma, Beauty, Oil and Gas, Banking, Insurance, Logistics, Real Estate,
  • Industry Trait: Process and Service Oriented, Relentless Execution, Manpower or Franchise intensive
  • Funding: Personal Funds and later Private Equity
  • Wealth: Average lifetime wealth of Late Bloomers is less than that of Early Executors
Big B
Big B – Desperate for Success?

Surprisingly tycoons from Capital intensive industries such as Telecom (my industry), Steel, and Cements are missing from above first generation entrepreneurs list. Two possible reasons apart from my biased sampling could be

  • Most of the successful entrepreneurs in these sectors are second generation entrepreneurs
  • Most of the big companies in capital intensive are still government controlled enterprises.

So Age is no bar for Entrepreneurship. One can start at any age and lay foundation for a billion dollar enterprise. It’s always possible and it’s never late!!

[Guest article by Pareekh Jain – reproduced from his blog]

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