Skill vs. Luck in Entrepreneurship and Venture Capital: Evidence from Serial Entrepreneurs

Paul Gompers, Anna Kovner, Josh Lerner, David Scharfstein

NBER Working Paper No. 12592
Issued in October 2006
NBER Program(s):   CF

This paper argues that a large component of success in entrepreneurship and venture capital can be attributed to skill. We show that entrepreneurs with a track record of success are more likely to succeed than first time entrepreneurs and those who have previously failed. Funding by more experienced venture capital firms enhances the chance of success, but only for entrepreneurs without a successful track record. Similarly, more experienced venture capitalists are able to identify and invest in first time entrepreneurs who are more likely to become serial entrepreneurs. Investments by venture capitalists in successful serial entrepreneurs generate higher returns for their venture capital investors. This finding provides further support for the role of skill in both entrepreneurship and venture capital.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w12592

Published: Gompers, Paul, Anna Kovner, Josh Lerner, and David Scharfstein. “Performance Persistence in Entrepreneurship." Journal of Financial Economics 96 (2010): 18-32. Earlier version distributed as National Bureau of Economic Research Working Paper No. 12592 and Harvard Business School Working Paper No. 09-028. (Earlier Name: “Skill vs. Luck in Entrepreneurship and Venture Capital: Evidence from Serial Entrepreneurs.”)

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