Milwaukee has some of the youngest entrepreneurs in the country

Lower cost of living makes starting a business easier


Milwaukee has the ninth-youngest entrepreneurs in the country, according to a new study by online loan marketplace LendingTree.

Dan Steininger and Elizabeth Lundberg of BizStarts.

The average age of Milwaukee founders on their companies’ dates of origination is 38.98, according to the study. Overalll, 43.3 percent of Milwaukee entrepreneurs are millennials, 37.5 percent are Gen X, 17 percent are baby boomers, 1.3 percent are Silent generation and 0.9 percent are Gen Z.

Having entrepreneurs that skew younger could mean they have an easier time getting started, according to the study.

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LendingTree pointed to Milwaukee’s low cost of living and low costs for businesses, including tax incentives, exemptions and credits that help cut costs for new business founders.

“Entrepreneurial hopefuls can find plenty of backing in the Milwaukee area,” LendingTree said. “Startup Milwaukee, for example, provides education and networking through Milwaukee Startup Week and similar initiatives. BizStarts offers further resources for local entrepreneurs, while other incubators like Milwaukee 7 can provide capital and funding for young companies.”

Elizabeth Lundberg, executive director of BizStarts, said the study demonstrates the support Milwaukee shows for the entrepreneurial community.

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“I think Milwaukee does a great job with UWM and Marquette and their entrepreneurship training programs, as well as The Commons, so there’s this effort to instill the entrepreneurial mindset early on and through education, as well,” Lundberg said. “Because Milwaukee has accessibility, we can leverage the opportunity for more people to become an entrepreneur earlier, like the makers’ market or the pop-up locations.”

She praised Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corp. and Kiva loans, both of which can help entrepreneurs get started. And in an area with a lower cost of living, less capital is needed to get off the ground, Lundberg said.

“Coming in to Milwaukee, the cost of living is so reasonable…and it’s not as densely competitive (as larger cities), and those are two big opportunities,” she said.

The study shows the cities with the youngest founders are likely to have some of the lowest barriers to becoming an entrepreneur, and to have strong networks and resources in place to help them succeed. LendingTree also found cities with the youngest entrepreneurs have lower costs of living and taxes and thriving local economies.

“For young entrepreneurs, finding the right location can be an important part of launching their startup,” said Hunter Stunzi, senior vice president of business loans at LendingTree. “Entrepreneurs should consider the different factors working for — or against — new companies in a city and try to find a location with strong support systems and lower barriers to entry.”

LendingTree used anonymized data from borrowers seeking business loans on its platform to conduct the study. It focused on businesses formed within the past five years.

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