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How To Come Up With A Great Idea

Publication Date: 
April 29, 2013
The Wall Street Journal

Vivek Wadhwa, a fellow at the Rock Center for Corporate Governance, contributed to the Wall Street Journal about the creativity of entreprenuerial ideas and that successful young tech entrepreneurs are "outliers" among the middle-aged professionals who are equally and more frequently successful.

Where do eurekas come from?

At the heart of any successful business is a great idea. Some seem so simple we wonder why nobody thought of them before. Others are so revolutionary we wonder how anybody could've thought of them at all.

But those great ideas don't come on command. And that leaves lots of would-be entrepreneurs asking the same question: How did everybody else get inspiration to strike—and how can we work the same magic?


You're Never Too Old
Mark Zuckerberg with Facebook, Paul Allen and Bill Gates with Microsoft, Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs with Apple AAPL +3.61%—those success stories lead some people to think that coming up with big ideas is a young person's game. But the tech entrepreneurs who rose to early fame and fortune are just the outliers. The typical entrepreneur is a middle-aged professional who learns about a market need and starts a company with his own savings.

Research that my team completed in 2009 determined that the average age of a successful entrepreneur in high-growth industries such as computers, health care and aerospace is 40. Twice as many successful entrepreneurs are aged over 50 as under 25, and twice as many over 60 as under 20.

Vivek Wadhwa
Vice president of academics and innovation, Singularity University