Startup Years

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While everyone has their own opinion, there are no real rules on how old you should be when you start your own business. While some people have the entrepreneurial spirit in their teen years, others prefer to have a couple of decades of experience behind them before starting out on their own. We’ve conducted an analysis into some of the biggest brands in the world to find out just how old their founders were when they started out.

How Old Were The Founders Of The World’s Biggest Brands When They Launched?

We started out by looking at the founders of the 100 biggest brands in the world (according to Forbes), excluding those which were formed from mergers, which left us with a list of 121 founders across 76 companies.

The average age at which these entrepreneurs founded these hugely successful ventures came out as 35, ranging from Eiji Toyoda, who founded Lexus at age 76, to Ingvar Kamprad, who started up his furniture business, which would later become IKEA, when he was just 17.

The Age Of Founder Success…

Which Sector Has The Youngest Founders?

You might assume that with the likes of Mark Zuckerburg and Bill Gates starting out at such young ages (both were 19 when they founded their companies), that tech would be the sector with the youngest average startup age.

However, we actually found that of the entrepreneurs that we looked at, it was the transport sector where people started out the youngest, with an average age of 23, including the founder of UPS, who was just 19 when he started sending his brother and other teens out delivering packages.*

Which Nation’s Entrepreneurs Found Success At The Youngest Age?

While the USA was home to the majority of entrepreneurs that we studied, it was Sweden where they started out the youngest, with an average age of 24.

As we’ve mentioned, the IKEA founder was just 17, while his compatriot Erling Persson was 30 when he opened the first H&M store.

At the other end of the scale, those from Japan tended to be the oldest when they started their companies, with an average age of 42, including the founders of Toyota and Honda, who were 43 and 39.*

Methodology

We started by taking the founders of the 100 companies listed on Forbes’ list of ‘The World’s Most Valuable Brands’. We then removed any which were formed as part of a merger or that referred more to a specific product rather than a company (for example, Corona, or Marlboro), which left us with a list of 121 founders across 76 companies. For each, we found the birth date of the founder and the date on which the company was formed (according to Wikipedia) to determine their age when they started the company (for some, specific dates were unavailable, so we just used the birth year/year the company was founded to calculate the age).