by Kristin Burnham

LinkedIn Deciphers the Entrepreneur

Sep 01, 20113 mins
IT Strategy

What sets entrepreneurs apart and where do they come from? LinkedIn scoured more than 120 million profiles to paint the picture of today's entrepreneur. Here's what they found.

Are you destined to be the next Steve Jobs? Maybe, if you studied entrepreneurship at Stanford University, are between the ages of 30 and 39, have worked at Yahoo and currently reside in San Francisco.

That, according to professional social networking site LinkedIn, which combed through more than 100 million profiles to decipher the qualities and characteristics—such as the top 10 most entrepreneurial business schools, top startup regions, most popular fields of study and which companies they come from—of today’s entrepreneurs.

LinkedIn defines entrepreneurs as people who identify themselves as founders or cofounders of U.S. companies created after 2000, with a LinkedIn company profile and who currently have between two and 200 employees. It excluded small law, consulting and real estate firms and LLCs, which generated a pool of more than 13,000 entrepreneurs.

So what’s today’s entrepreneur look like?


They likely attended either Stanford University, Harvard University, MIT or Berkeley. Not surprisingly, entrepreneurship is the most popular major, followed by computer engineering, computer science and physics. The majors least likely to yield the next big entrepreneur: nursing, administration and human resources.

LinkedIn also found that entrepreneurs average 2.5 years in their work position before launching their first startup. Also, many of these entrepreneurs come from big tech companies, including Yahoo, AOL, Apple, eBay, Google and Microsoft.

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“Two-and-a-half years is pretty standard in Silicon Valley for an average position length,” says Monica Rogati, senior data scientist at LinkedIn. “The Bureau of Labor Statistics says that it’s about 4.4 years for an average person.

Geography matters, too. LinkedIn found that the top regions for startups are San Francisco, followed by New York City and Boston. Rogati says that the gaps between the top three are significant: New York City has half the number of startups as San Francisco, and Boston has half the number of startups as New York City.


Relationships and mentors are also crucial to an entrepreneur’s success. LinkedIn found that the top industries connected to founders are venture capital, online publishing, Internet and recruiting.

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“If you think about it, they’re connected to people who can help them: people who can give their company money, people who can give their company publicity and people who can help them find employees,” says Rogati.

Age also matters. Most entrepreneurs (40 percent) were between 30 and 39 years old when they launched their first startup. Twenty to 29 year olds rounded out the second age group (34 percent), followed by 40-49 (20 percent) and over 50 years old (5 percent).

Kristin Burnham covers consumer technology, social networking and Web 2.0 for Follow Kristin on Twitter @kmburnham. Follow everything from on Twitter @CIOonline and on Facebook. Email Kristin at