Leadership Research 

Tech Founder Education

Startups succeed because of their founders, but what makes a successful founder? We wanted to find out what backgrounds founders were bringing to their companies, so we undertook research to determine the educational backgrounds of founders of over 300 technology companies. 

Specifically we were looking to understand:  What undergraduate degrees are entrepreneurs graduating from? Who goes to graduate school? Who gets an MBA? Where are the founders educated? Which professors are startup founders? Who starts companies together? What are the gender and the age of tech founders?

The CMO Search

The goal of this scaleup research was to examine and compare the quality of marketing leadership in Canadian and American tech companies. On the whole, we found that Canadian-based marketing leaders are less qualified and less experienced than their American counterparts but what worried us most about our findings was domestic brain drain. With foreign firms taking our best talent, and Canadian firms conducting marketing out of U.S. offices and being sold before they flourish, we have a severe problem. We are not developing a local talent base that will enable us to solve the marketing challenges our firms face. This has implications for public policy and the development of support programs aimed at accelerating the growth of Canadian companies.

Ousting the Founder

In my second study on Canada’s innovation challenges, I’ve determined that Founder CEOs outperform Professional CEOs in both Unicorns (privately held companies with valuations in excess of $1 billion) and venture capital-backed Canadian companies. But in Canada we are 2.5 times more likely to replace a Founder CEO with a Professional CEO. My conclusion is that Canadian founders have the right backgrounds to grow successful market-leading companies and that our reluctance to scale to that level may be attributed partially to our tendency to replace talented Founder CEOs with Professional CEOs.

Older Research

This research is several years old and was looking at specific areas of leadership.