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The surprising demographics of American technology entrepreneurs

Christina Hernandez Sherwood, eMed Editor, MedCity News

American tech entrepreneurs aren't all 20-somethings from elite universities. A Kauffman Foundation survey of U.S.-born CEOs from 500 engineering and technology companies revealed that today's American tech entrepreneurs are middle aged, well educated in business or technical disciplines, and hold degrees from an assortment of universities.

The study's highlights include:

  • The average and median age of U.S.-born tech founders was 39 when they started their companies. Twice as many were older than 50 as were younger than 25.
  • The vast majority (92 percent) of founders held bachelor's degrees; 31 percent held master's degrees; and 10 percent had completed PhDs. Nearly half of all these degrees were in science-, technology-, engineering-, and mathematics-related disciplines. One-third were in business, accounting, and finance.
  • U.S.-born tech founders holding MBA degrees established companies more quickly (13 years) than others. Those with PhDs waited 21 years to start companies; other master's degree holders took 14.7 years; and those with bachelor's degrees took 16.7 years.
  • U.S.-born tech founders holding computer science and information technology degrees founded companies sooner after graduating than engineering degree holders (14.3 years vs. 17.6 years). Applied science majors took the longest, at 20 years.

Weekly Wisdom from Kauffman is a regular feature on eMed highlighting insightful research from the Kauffman Foundation. Do you have a favorite Kauffman research insight that could help life science entrepreneurs? Send it to

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