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LinkedIn finds common threads for entrepreneurs

Analyzing the public profiles of startup founders, the social network has compiled a list of schools, industries, and other factors that many of them have in common.

What makes an entrepreneur? LinkedIn may have uncovered at least some answers to that question.

Digging through the public profiles of tens of thousands of people who've launched startup companies, the social network spotted at least some elements in common among them.

Unveiling her findings in a blog published yesterday, Monica Rogati, a senior research scientist at LinkedIn, found that attendance at one of 10 U.S. business schools was one common thread, with Stanford, Harvard, and MIT Sloan at the top of the list.

Looking at the fields of study sought by future entrepreneurs, Rogati discovered that computer engineering, computer science, physics, and electrical engineering were the most popular, while social work, civil engineering, education, and nursing were among the least popular.

Calling some companies "breeding grounds for entrepreneurs," Rogati found certain firms popping up the most as former workplaces for entrepreneurs. Those included Adobe, Apple, eBay, Electronic Arts, Google, Microsoft, SGI (Silicon Graphics), and Yahoo, among others.


A common perception is that entrepreneurs tend to be young when they first start, often in their 20s. But the research showed that 65 percent of those profiled were 30 years and older. And only 2 percent were found to be serial entrepreneurs, meaning people who launch one startup company after another.

What types of connections do entrepreneurs have on LinkedIn? Rogati's study revealed that relationships are critical to the success of entrepreneurs and that most of their connections tended to be with venture capitalists, bloggers, and recruiters.

Finally, the top regions to launch startup companies among those profiled were San Francisco, New York City, and Boston.

To compile her data, Rogati targeted professionals on LinkedIn who identified themselves as founders or co-founders of companies created after the year 2000. Founders of businesses with anywhere from 2 to 200 employees were included. In the end, the profiles of more than 13,000 entrepreneurs were compared with that of the average LinkedIn user.