Who Are the Entrepreneurs?
By Nick N., Intern, Startup America Partnership, @startupamerica
Welcome friends, guests and startups! My name is Nick and I am currently an intern with the Startup America Partnership here in Washington, DC. The world of startups is fascinating and dynamic, and I’ve only just begun to grasp the subtleties of entrepreneurship and innovative thinking. I can’t help but wonder what made entrepreneurs like Henry Ford and Bill Gates into icons of American ingenuity, or what motivates thousands of other fantastically creative individuals to take a risk and start a business venture.
What makes an individual an entrepreneur? Do I have to be born with the entrepreneurial spark, or can I learn to be a pioneer of industry? What allows the most effective entrepreneurs to make an impact? Before attempting to unlock the mystery of the entrepreneur, I wanted to get a feel for who the entrepreneurs really are. What I found was both surprising and inspiring. By all measures of diversity, including gender, ethnicity, nationality, age, and location, entrepreneurs defy the stereotype. Young, white, middle class dropouts are not the norm. Startup success is not limited to a chosen few – it’s open to all who are bold enough to cultivate their entrepreneurial ambitions.
Gender: According the 2011 Kaufman Index of Entrepreneurial Activity, 0.23% of the women surveyed were new entrepreneurs, and 0.42% of the men were new entrepreneurs. Of roughly 8,000 startups at Startup America, 42% have a female founder or co-founder.
Ethnicity: According to the same survey 39.8% of entrepreneurs were non-white, 22.9% of which were Latino.
Nationality: Last year, almost a third of new entrepreneurs were immigrants. Immigrants were twice as likely to start a business as natives.
Age: The Kaufman Study found that 70.6% of entrepreneurs were older than 35 and a surprising 20.9% older than 55.
Entrepreneurs are building businesses all over the country with the support of Startup America’s regional networks. From Maine to Montana, our regions nurture startup communities by providing resources and expertise to local startups. While many startups hail from New York and Texas, and many more will migrate to Silicon Valley, entrepreneurial hotbeds flourish in places like Des Moines, Iowa on ‘Silicon 6th’, a street renowned for hosting the region’s best and brightest entrepreneurs. Across the nation, people of all kinds with a colorful array of passions call themselves entrepreneurs.
Hard numbers are great for beginning to flesh out who these elusive entrepreneurs really are, but demographic data tells only a small part of the story. Check back next week to learn what differentiates an entrepreneur from a business owner or manager, and what characteristics define these heroes of innovation.
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