CHARLOTTE, N.C., Aug. 15, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- LendingTree®, the nation's leading online loan marketplace, today released a study on the cities in the U.S. with the youngest entrepreneurs.
The study compared ages of business founders on their companies' dates of origination in the 50 largest U.S. cities using anonymized data from business owners seeking funding through the LendingTree small business marketplace.
Average founder's ages when starting their business ranged from 37 to 42 years old. This five-year gap in average ages might seem small, but it can represent many factors that work for — or against — entrepreneurs in each city.
Salt Lake City, Buffalo, N.Y. and New Orleans have the youngest business founders, on average. Entrepreneurs in these cities, along with Oklahoma City, were younger than 38 years old on average at the time they started their businesses.
Providence, R.I., San Jose, Calif. and Hartford, Conn., fell on the other end of the spectrum — business founders were 42 years old on average when starting their companies.
Gen Xers helmed nearly 42 percent of new businesses founded in the last five years, followed by millennials who founded almost 38 percent.
Louisville, Ky. had the highest proportion of millennial founders, at 44.8 percent.
Providence, R.I. and Philadelphia had the highest proportion of Gen X founders, at 48.7 percent.
Baby boomers founded more businesses in Silicon Valley (San Jose, Calif.) than anywhere else, at 24.1 percent. As one of the most expensive communities in the country, it may take budding entrepreneurs longer to save up starting capital.
The cities with the youngest entrepreneurs
The cities with the youngest entrepreneurs are likely to have some of the lowest barriers to enter entrepreneurship.
A closer look reveals that booming local economies, along with low local costs and taxes, may be fueling startup growth. These cities also have strong support systems in place to help founders and their startups succeed, from business incubators and accelerators to networking events and opportunities to apply for small business grants or attract venture capital.
In short, these are the cities where young entrepreneurs are more quickly reaching their goal to form a business of their own.
The 10 Places With the Youngest Entrepreneurs
% of New Business Founders by Generation
Average Founder Age
Salt Lake City
1. Salt Lake City
The youngest business founders in the country can be found in Salt Lake City, Utah. Entrepreneurs here achieve their dreams of starting a business at just 37.8 years old.
The area known as "Silicon Slopes" encompasses the Salt Lake City metropolitan area and nearby cities; it is home to billion-dollar tech companies such as Overstock.com, PluralSight and Qualtrics.
These big players have helped established a steady, growing economy in Salt Lake City and throughout Utah. The area also has an established (and growing) pool of qualified talent. Combined with the relatively low cost of living, entrepreneurs in Utah have few obstacles — and plenty of opportunities.
2. Buffalo, New York
In Buffalo, the typical business founder is just 37.9 years old, and a decent portion of the city's entrepreneurs belong to Generation Z (3.6 percent).
Buffalo's business climate has improved in recent years, thanks in part to a billion-dollar economic development package proposed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in 2012. This money has since flowed into the state's second-largest city, and Buffalo has seen some gains from the program, even in the wake of some false starts and scandals.
On top of the "Buffalo billions" initiative, this city offers a relatively affordable cost of living and a strong support system for budding entrepreneurs. This includes business education and support through the Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership at The State University of New York at Buffalo and local business incubators like Launch NY and 43North.
3. New Orleans
The dream of entrepreneurship is within reach for many New Orleans founders — the average age of founders is just under 38.
Not only is New Orleans a cultural giant, it's also a standout when it comes to cultivating the next generation of entrepreneurs and startups.
A hallmark of New Orleans' business landscape is the annual New Orleans Entrepreneur Week. Started by entrepreneurship-focused nonprofit Idea Village, this major event gives would-be founders a chance to learn, grow and even pitch their business ideas.
On top of strong community initiatives to support new businesses, New Orleans also provides twin benefits of affordable local costs and business tax incentives that can help lower the economic barriers to starting a business.
4. Oklahoma City
Oklahoma is the last city that can boast an average founder age under 38 years old, and it's also the city among the top 10 with the largest share of millennial founders, at 43.7 percent.
These young entrepreneurs can thank the solid network of support found in Oklahoma City and throughout the state, too — for instance, a business incentive act offers a tax break to Oklahoma businesses participating in certified business incubators.
Lastly, a low cost of living will help ensure founders can put their capital toward starting and growing their Oklahoma City startups — and not just keeping the lights on.
5. Charlotte, North Carolina
The average age of founders in this rapidly growing city is 38.21. In 2017, most of the $1 billion in venture capital raised by North Carolina entrepreneurs went to Charlotte-based companies. The flow of money into new Charlotte businesses is just one sign of the city's healthy startup ecosystem.
Another is Charlotte's large cohort of Generation Z entrepreneurs: a full 5 percent of Charlotte's business founders fell into this college-aged (or younger) group. This could be thanks to the support and influence of UNC Charlotte'sVentureprise entrepreneurship program, which provides business resources, trainings and certifications to students and Charlotte community members alike.
"For young entrepreneurs, finding the right location can be an important part of launching their startup," said Hunter Stunzi, SVP of Business Loans at LendingTree. "Entrepreneurs should consider the different factors working for — or against — new companies in a city and try to find a location with strong support systems and lower barriers to entry."
Source: Analysis of LendingTree anonymized user data.
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