The Best Age to Raise Money

There’s a lot of talk these days about age bias among Silicon Valley VCs. Luckily, there’s no need for narratives when we’ve got Crunchbase at our disposal!

This analysis was pretty straightforward, but getting the data was not. I wanted to answer the question, “is it easier to raise money in Silicon Valley if you’re younger?” So, I had to work towards two things: all founders who have raised money, and the age at which they did so.

To start, I saw that Crunchbase publishes a list of all funding rounds ever, updated monthly, available here. So, this gave me a finite list of companies.

From this list, I downloaded individual company listings from the Crunchbase API, which also contained the funding round data. In addition, the important people for each company are also listed. I found the founders by searching for the string “ounder” in the title, which helped avoid problems with inconsistent naming schemes.

Once I had the founder names, it was easy to download the proper JSON listings from Crunchbase. However, I ran into a problem: lots of founders have no birthday information! I had to infer it somehow. To do this, I decided to use education information. I assumed that the average BA/BS graduate is twenty-two years old. I also assumed that the average MA/MS graduate is twenty-four. For JDs, the average graduate at Yale is 27, and for MBAs, the average at HBS is also 27. For PhD graduates, I found that the average age for Engineering degrees was about 31.

With all these (fairly gratuitous) liberties taken, it was a simple matter to find the earliest degree attained for each founder (the year someone attains a Bachelor’s gives us more confidence about their age than the year they attain a PhD), and assign an age. After a bit more munging to get everything into shape, I made a simple histogram of ages at first funding round raised:


So, what’s the answer to our question? The average age of a founder successfully fundraising for the first time is 33.5, and the median is 32. There is a bit of a bias towards younger founders, but not nearly as young as you might have thought from reading Techcrunch. Good news! Err, depending on how old you are :)

Update: In response to Patrick, I’ve graphed the average age year over year:


Looks like it’s been holding steady around 31, although we can see what happened in 1999, when the average age took a dip from 35 to 29. Not that our data is very, very, limited for that time period, so we’ll have to reserve judgement about the average age back then until Crunchbase becomes a bit more robust.

The code and raw data are available here. Not convinced at the results? Don’t put too much stock into them. The age inference is obviously very messy, and it doesn’t even take into account people without degrees listed on Crunchbase, of which there are many. We also shouldn’t forget about our Israeli friends, who start college three years later - if anything, the true age is probably a bit older!