20 years, entrepreneur
Mark Zuckerberg founded Facebook at the age of 23, Larry Page and Sergey Brin founded Google when they were both 24. The same applies to Elon Musk, now 43, father of Paypal, Tesla and Space XX.
According to the Kaufmann Index, an index that monitors new businesses, 24.7% of all new businesses born in 2014 in the United States of America were founded by young people aged between 20 and 34 years. Indeed this trend reveals a widespread attitude to business risk among young people. According to the Amway Global Report on entrepreneurship, in collaboration with Gfk and Technische Universität München, about 80% of young people under 35 are conducive to starting a business or self-employment. Average is growing, especially in northern Europe (96% in Sweden, 95% in Denmark) and in the Mediterranean countries such as Italy (83%), where in most cases, however, the young entrepreneur inherits his business from his father.
Unemployment is not the key element here. In countries like Germany where unemployment is relatively low, for instance, young people are less willing to launch their own business. At the same time, 20-something entrepreneurs are largely concentrated in Silicon Valley, where new activities are certainly not the result of economic crisis or unemployment.
On the contrary, technological change can be a great stimulus. In the digital economy it is no longer experience that qualifies human capital, but the ability to learn new things, and young people have an edge in capturing the spirit of the time and understanding the needs of today. Similarly, by acting as ‘startuppers’ – ¬most of the time serial ones – they avoid dealing with the limits imposed by their inexperience in the management of other phases of the company. They create and sell, and then create again, in a continuous generative cycle.
Which is the key of their success? It’s innovation, of course. But above all, it’s also syncretism, the ability to put together different knowledge and insights. The fact that these new businesses aren’t started and built up in garages anymore but instead in open and collaborative spaces such as co-working, incubators, scientific-technological parks and innovation districts – and non–urban areas like Shoreditch in London. Which isn’t a surprise since London is today’s new European start-up capital, where business incubators and seed accelerators have increased by 110% from 2011 to date.