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The impact of founder personalities on startup success

With Dr Fabian Braesemann
Date & Time:
13:45 - 14:45,
Monday 12 February, 2024
Location:
Seminar room, 1 St Giles

About

Startup companies solve many of today’s most challenging problems, such as the decarbonisation of the economy or the development of novel life-saving vaccines. Startups are a vital source of innovation, yet the most innovative are also the least likely to survive. The probability of success of startups has been shown to relate to several firm-level factors such as industry, location and the economy of the day. Still, attention has increasingly considered internal factors relating to the firm’s founding team, including their previous experiences and failures, their centrality in a global network of other founders and investors, as well as the team’s size. The effects of founders’ personalities on the success of new ventures are, however, mainly unknown. Here, we show that founder personality traits are a significant feature of a firm’s ultimate success. We draw upon detailed data about the success of a large-scale global sample of startups. We find that the Big Five personality traits of startup founders significantly differ from that of the population at large. Key personality facets that distinguish successful entrepreneurs include a preference for variety, novelty and starting new things, like being the centre of attention and being exuberant. We do not find one ’Founder-type’ personality; instead, six different personality types appear. Our results also demonstrate the benefits of larger, personality-diverse teams in startups, which show an increased likelihood of success. The findings emphasise the role of the diversity of personality types as a novel dimension of team diversity that influences performance and success.

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