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Start-up Success Linked to Personality

New research ties success and failure of start-ups to personality

FastCompany explores recent research on the personality traits of start-up founders.

Researchers from the University of New South Wales, Oxford University, and two other Australian universities argue in a new study that while, yes, the odds of success can be linked to specific founder-personality types, their paper formally settles on six. To reach this conclusion, they used data on more than 21,000 startup founders. And moreover, they found that the combined personalities of the startup’s entire founding team can also be a key factor.


“Personality traits don’t simply matter for startups—they are critical to elevating the chances of success,” lead author and University of New South Wales adjunct professor Paul McCarthy said in a press release. “A small number of astute venture capitalists have suspected this for some time, but now we have the data to demonstrate this is the case.”


Their conclusion, after studying the successful startups and analyzing founders’ traits, was that good founders had a couple of particular facets of their personalities that aren’t that common. They include a drive for variety and novelty, an openness to adventure, less modesty, and higher energy levels. The more these traits are found in a company, the paper says, the greater its odds of success are.

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