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A recent blog post from the Kauffman Foundation puts it succinctly, when it tries to dispel the myth of the twenty-something tech wizard as the prototypical entrepreneur.

Citing research, they write:

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.

Dispelling the Myth – Entrepreneurship.org.

This is in stark contrast to the meme that the young, college dropout is the model for the modern day successful entrepreneur.

ref: Entrepreneurial Success Without College


Below is an ironic infographic that so nicely illustrates how some of our most iconic (and wealthiest) entrepreneurs never graduated college. This is an attractive meme based largely on casual evidence. Apparently this evidence is enough to power the belief, or implication, that college is irrelevant or even detrimental to entrepreneurial success. So powerful and attractive is this belief that even Stanford-educated-billionaire-Paypal-founder-Facebook-investor Peter Thiel established the Thiel Fellows aka “20 under 20”:

Thiel Fellows are given a no-strings-attached grant of $100,000 to skip college and focus on their work, their research, and their self-education.

While I don’t want to be the one to challenge or question anything Peter Thiel thinks will be successful, I do question the underlying logic. If the top Billionaire/Entrepreneurs all skipped college – then does this necessarily mean skipping college made them entrepreneurs? I’ll also point out that, the iconic entrepreneurs below all are men. By that same logic we should be encouraging only men to drop out of college and become entrepreneurs.

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Arizona No. 1 for startups, Kauffman study finds

Arizona had the highest entrepreneurial activity rate of any state last year, according to new research from the Kauffman Foundation.

– Phoenix Business Journal

Definitely worth of a major shout-out

When I arrived in Arizona 4 years ago to help them build their entrepreneurship program, I had already spent over 15 years in Silicon Valley – the mecca for entrepreneurship (and venture capital). Needless to say I was cynical and underwhelmed by the scope and quality of the entrepreneurial community, but I wasn’t surprised or disappointed. Most areas outside of the “big 3” (Silicon Valley, NY, Boston) or the up-and-coming-3 (Denver, Austin, LA) lack the culture, critical mass or role models to sustain a vibrant entrepreneurial community. Phoenix was no different, and it wasn’t the fault of the entrepreneurs or other talented would-be entrepreneurs. Again, without a critical mass of role models (successful entrepreneurs), supporting companies, capital and a culture of risk and innovation – it just doesn’t happen. But it did happen in Arizona- particularly in the Phoenix metro area. After 4 years, we hit the top spot in the country for entrepreneurial activity. It wasn’t due to any one silver bullet. It was a combination of simultaneous and independent efforts by many individuals and institutions, all committed to stimulating entrepreneurship in the region. Some of the efforts were predictable – other regions have used similar techniques and failed. If these efforts weren’t buoyed by other activities and other individuals, they might have fizzled in Arizona too. But the synergy worked, and continues to work – primarily due to these influences:

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From : Slideshare – Professors meme by Timothy Christy


An Interview that PBS/Mediashift did with and me and my colleague, Dan Gillmor, about the Knight Center for Digital Media Entrepreneurship.

MediaShift Idea Lab: How Arizona State Teaches Digital Media Entrepreneurs