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Dispelling the Myth of the Zuckerberg Entrepreneur

Thom Ruhe

When you hear the word entrepreneur, what kind of image does your mind conjure up? If it's a Mark Zuckerberg look-a-like pouring out HTML code in an Ivy League dorm room, you're probably not alone. But you're not exactly picturing the masses.  Dispelling the Myth What is an Entrepreneur

At the Kauffman Foundation, we've been dispelling the myth that most entrepreneurs are twenty-something tech wizards for some time. In reality, the highest rate of entrepreneurial activity belongs to the 55- to 64-year-old age group over the past decade.  And most high-tech founders are well educated and married with children.

A recent academic article conveyed a consistent message spoken by Australian professor, Andre Spice. The articles states, "According to Spicer, it's important to move away from the idea of someone such as Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg as the embodiment of a great entrepreneur because 'that's not reality.'" Spicer was quoted as saying, "I think there's a big gap here between the kind of image which we have of the entrepreneur as this sort of heroic young individual guy and the reality, which is kind of often more staid, collective, middle-aged entrepreneurial ventures."

I'm encouraged to see more talk about this misconception because, as it's commonly said in the world of marketing, perception is reality.

If you're wondering why it matters so much, think about it from the Kauffman Foundation perspective. One of our primary undertakings is developing effective programs and informing policy that will best advance entrepreneurship and education. How can we do that without first understanding who the world's entrepreneurs are and what inspires their minds. This kind of research contributes to a broader and more in-depth understanding of what drives innovation and economic growth in an entrepreneurial world.

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