Most successful tech founders do not have tech degrees – study
MOST FOUNDERS of successful startups in Malaysia have degrees unrelated to technology and by far finance degrees are popular with entrepreneurs, a recent study by market research company iPrice concluded.
iPrice studied the LinkedIn profiles, company websites and reliable news sources, and found out of 65 founders, 77 percent majored in non-tech degrees. The revelation suggests the key to success in tech scene is not necessarily correlated with what you studied. Instead, iPrice suggested founders need to have knowledge about finance, law and business in order to navigate the complex world of running an enterprise.
Furthermore, the study found 35 out of 65 founders did not pursue postgraduate study before setting up their business. This suggests founders are most likely discover a niche in the market after undergraduate study, but before pursuing postgraduate study.
The growth in the digital economy has driven up demand for IT workers and developers, with salaries in the US coming up to US$93,000 a year according to the US Department of Labor. Young people are turning to technology-related degrees and responding to promises of higher wages due to the tech boom.
That being said, iPrice’s findings hit back at the conventional wisdom that an IT education would naturally lead to an IT career. “As e-commerce continues to expand in Malaysia and the region, much more personnel with technical expertise is still needed,” the study said.
User experience is coming to define consumers’ buying habits much more than any other factor, so it stands to reason why leaders with a close understanding of human nature would perform better in marketing and selling a business in today’s saturated market.
This fact is further highlighted by the 42 percent failure rate among startups, largely attributed to founder’s inability to pinpoint a market niche because he or she didn’t understand the market they were hoping to penetrate.
“Aspiring e-commerce founders must first determine a niche market need before initiating their e-commerce,” iPrice said in a statement.
It’s also worth considering the various tech stars of history who either never got a college degree or studied a totally different subject. Asia has Jack Ma who went from a poor English teacher to one of the richest men in the world, while the US has Apple’s Steve Jobs, a college dropout with a handful of literature and calligraphy credits under his belt.
So, if you want to start a business, don’t worry about school – worry about the kind of business you want to start.