Vivek Wadhwa gives everybody a chance. That’s not to say he’s generous–he may well be, we don’t know–but rather that he doesn’t labor under the false sun of received wisdom. Instead, Wadhwa–a serial entrepreneur, researcher and writer–likes to find things out. Take your entrepreneur stereotype, largely influenced by Silicon Valley: young, fast, natural-born coders who are genetically predisposed to tolerate risk. Wadhwa doesn’t believe any of that. That’s the fairy tale version, he reports–that’s what you see in the movies. His research tells a different story.
Blogging at the Washington Post, Wadhwa blows up the conventional formula for entrepreneurial success–and lets a much larger demographic in the door. First he disputes the notion that entrepreneurs are born that way. This is a popular notion among venture capitalists like Mark Suster, against whom Wadhwa has often argued his case. But Wadhwa’s research shows that entrepreneurs can come from anywhere, and many a success has been awakened to the entrepreneurial way later in life–made, not born. Late in life, you say? That’s another of Wadhwa’s revelations. Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg aren’t typical. Strikingly Wadhwa reports a survey of successful tech company founders shows “as many had been older than fifty as had been younger than twenty-five; twice as many had been over sixty as under twenty.” So don’t be afraid, dreamers, to blow out those birthday candles. Especially if you have an education, because contrary to yet another myth, most successful entrepreneurs don’t drop out to pursue their passion–most finish school. Wadhwa even finds evidence to counter another hard-to-refute fact–that women don’t have a large enough entrepreneurial profile, especially in tech. But VCs reading his conclusions should be looking at women-run businesses with greater interest: “venture backed companies run by women have 12 percent higher revenues,” Wadhwa reports.