Wanna be an entrepreneur? Start early.

May 23, 2011: 6:02 PM ET

At TechCrunch Disrupt in New York today, super-angels Ron Conway and David Lee say the younger you are, the more likely your start-up will take off. 

Ron Conway, center

Ron Conway, center

FORTUNE -- Mark Zuckerberg launched Facebook from his Harvard dorm room; Twitter's Jack Dorsey and Google's (GOOG) Larry Page and Sergey Brin founded their respective companies in their twenties. All of them were young when they got their start, and that's not a coincidence according to a report released by SV Angel's Ron Conway and David Lee. Apparently, the younger you are, the higher your odds are at succeeding in an increasingly competitive area of the industry where skyrocketing valuations are the norm.

Conway is in a good position to know: he told Fortune earlier this year he fields 70% of all start-up deals in Silicon Valley. And at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in New York City, he and Lee revealed early data from a report in which they queried more than 500 start-ups they've invested in over the last 15 years. Of the start-ups with potential or actual exit values of $25 million or more, 47% of those were run by founders who were under 30. But the higher those potential exit values got, the younger the founders became. Case in point: 67% of the companies that could sell for $500 million or more have founders under 30.

"I think younger entrepreneurs are more willing to 'slow brew' their business," said Conway. "Facebook is the best example of a company that was slow brewed with plenty of patience." He also pointed to Groupon and Twitter as other examples of successful companies whose founders got their starts early but also spent years refining their services.

Still, there's something to be said for age-old wisdom.  Conway and Lee used Facebook co-founder Sean Parker as an example. Parker has been involved with several start-ups over the years, including the once-popular early 2000s music file-sharing service, Napster.

"At 18, Sean was already wise about what was on the minds of music lovers," said Lee. "But I like him now at 31. He has more experience, and he's learned from it."

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JP Mangalindan
JP Mangalindan
Writer, Fortune

JP Mangalindan is a San Francisco-based writer at Fortune, covering Silicon Valley. Since joining in 2010, he has written on a wide array of topics, from the turnaround of eBay to the evolution of net neutrality. A graduate of Fordham University, Mangalindan has also written for GQ, Popular Science, and Entertainment Weekly.

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