- Despite the numerous stories of “whizkid” entrepreneurs like Mark Zuckerberg who start companies in their dorm rooms, research suggests founders over 40-years-old run more successful companies.
- Business Insider rounded up many successful people who did not get recognition until well after their 30th birthday.
- Legendary comic book creator Stan Lee, for instance, did not create “Fantastic Four” until he was just shy of 39. Julia Child wrote her first cookbook at 50.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates made business lore for creating their multi-million dollar companies in their teens – but data suggests they are anomolies to the norm.
In fact, the average age of business founders hovers around 40, according to research conducted by MIT professor Pierre Azoulay, who analyzed 2.7 million people who founded companies between 2007 and 2014. Azoulay found a founder at age 50 is approximately twice as likely to experience a “successful exit,” meaning they get acquired or go public, compared to a founder at age 30, the research finds.
Business Insider rounded up 23 famous people who didn’t achieve success until well past their 30th birthday.
Renowned fashion designer Vera Wang didn’t design her first dress until she was 40. Henry Ford was 45 when he created the revolutionary Model T car in 1908. Writer Harry Bernstein authored countless rejected books before getting his first hit at age 96.
Here are other successful people who found success later in life.
Stan Lee created his first hit comic, "The Fantastic Four," just shy of his 39th birthday in 1961. In the next few years, he created the legendary Marvel Universe, whose characters such as Spider-Man and the X-Men became American cultural icons.
Lee passed away in late 2018 at 95-years-old.
Read more: Stan Lee, Marvel legend, dead at 95
Donald Fisher was 40 and had no experience in retail when he and his wife, Doris, opened the first Gap store in San Francisco in 1969. The Gap's clothes quickly became fashionable, and today the company is one of the world's largest clothing chains.
Vera Wang was a figure skater and journalist before entering the fashion industry at age 40. Today she's one of the world's premier women's designers.
Gary Heavin was 40 when he opened the first Curves fitness center in 1992, which ended up becoming one of the fastest-growing franchises of the '90s.
Robin Chase cofounded Zipcar at age 42 in 2000. She left the company in 2011 and continues to build and advise startups, as well as serve as a member of the World Economic Forum.
Samuel L. Jackson has been a Hollywood staple for years now, but he'd had only bit parts before landing an award-winning role at age 43 in Spike Lee's film "Jungle Fever" in 1991.
Read more: 15 famous people who had a stutter
Sam Walton had a fairly successful retail-management career in his 20s and 30s, but his path to astronomical success began at age 44, when he founded the first Wal-Mart in Rogers, Arkansas, in 1962.
Henry Ford was 45 when he created the revolutionary Model T car in 1908.
Jack Weil was 45 when he founded what became the most popular cowboy-wear brand, Rockmount Ranch Wear. He remained its CEO until he died at the ripe old age of 107 in 2008.
Rodney Dangerfield is remembered as a legendary comedian, but he didn't catch a break until he made a hit appearance on "The Ed Sullivan Show" at age 46.
Momofuku Ando cemented his spot in junk-food history when he invented instant ramen at age 48 in 1958.
Julia Child worked in advertising and media before writing her first cookbook when she was 50, launching her career as a celebrity chef in 1961.
Jack Cover worked as a scientist for institutions including NASA and IBM before he became a successful entrepreneur at 50 for inventing the Taser stun gun in 1970.
Betty White is one of the most award-winning comedic actresses in history, but she didn't become an icon until she joined the cast of "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" in 1973 at age 51.
Read more: 15 things you didn't know about Betty White