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Don't Quit! College Still Best Path to Entrepreneurial Success

Don't Quit! College Still Best Path to Entrepreneurial Success
Credit: Franny Anny/Shutterstock

Dropping out of college paid off for Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg, but that doesn't mean you should follow their lead ­– regardless of how great your business idea is.

While budding entrepreneurs may feel that their time in college is stopping them from making millions on their new businesses, new research from LinkedIn shows they may want to rethink that idea. LinkedIn researchers analyzed data on more than 1,200 tech entrepreneurs whose companies raised a round of venture capital in 2013 and discovered that the majority of the VC-backed entrepreneurs listed a college education on their LinkedIn profile.

"Building from a strong educational foundation is a smart bet," Michael Conover, a senior data scientist at LinkedIn, wrote on the company's blog.

In addition to investing in those who have graduated from college, venture capitalists are also looking for entrepreneurs who have experience working in the real world. The study revealed that more than 30 percent of the entrepreneurs who received funding had experience working for a blue chip company.

"What's more, these men and women tend to develop leadership experience before founding a company, with more than 40 percent holding positions at the director level or above prior to their current role," Conover wrote. [6 Traits All Great Entrepreneurs Share ]

The research also shows that venture capitalists like investing in those who have shown they know how to start a new company. Twenty percent of the entrepreneurs who received venture capital last year had started at least one company.

While budding entrepreneurs might feel that the older they get, the less likely they are to find an investor, the study found otherwise. The data shows that the largest investments are made in entrepreneurs over age  30. Entrepreneurs over 30, on average, four times as much money as those in their teens and 20s.

"For the men and women interested in starting a company, the path to success is rarely straightforward," Conover wrote. "But this analysis sheds light on the popularized image of a young, unstoppable founder and replaces it with the educated, experienced business leader."

LinkedIn researchers said the key takeaways from the study for budding entrepreneurs are:

  • Education: Invest in your education. While in school, focus on your management and leadership skills.
  • Experience: Try and get experience working at top-tier companies. This will expose you to many industry best practices.
  • Patience: Spending more time focusing on your education and work experience is likely to pay off in the form of a larger investment in the long run.

The research was based on funding data found on the investment tracking platform CrunchBase.

Originally published on Business News Daily

Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based writer who has nearly 15 years' experience in the media business. A graduate of Indiana University, he spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including, local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Following his years at the newspaper Chad worked in public relations, helping promote small businesses throughout the U.S. Follow him on Twitter.