A British news correspondent recently emailed me to ask for any research that helps answer the question of whether there really is a dirty secret that high-growth companies are usually led by founders from privileged families.
My answer was that I had not come across data concluding exactly that, but qualitative research always points to the importance of personal networks to entrepreneurial success. This is why both in developed and developing countries, parents make an effort to get their children into elite schools. Parents know that their offspring will not only benefit from a higher quality of education, but also from a network that can open many doors. I also told him that there is extensive anecdotal evidence that the venture capital industry relies heavily relies on connections for investment decisions.
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Now, Paul Kedrosky, a venture capitalist and senior fellow at the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, offers us some hard data on these instinctive and anecdotal observations about the importance of connections for an entrepreneur. Based on a recent survey of 2,000 Americans from across the country, Kedrosky shows that personal associations are in fact a variable in the rise of entrepreneurship.