Silver entrepreneurship: a new trend in startups


  • Fabio Greco University Federico II of Naples
  • Marco Tregua University Federico II of Naples
  • Francesco Carignani University Federico II of Naples
  • Francesco Bifulco



Silver Entreprenurship; Startup;


Purpose of the paper: The aim of this study is investigating the motivations behind the choice of becoming entrepreneurs over the age of 50 and the possibilities they have of being supported by training and education programs for entrepreneurship.

Methodology: The study adopts a qualitative approach. A matrix is built according to two key topics from literature review and used to report case studies aiming at offering a description of the dynamics of silver entrepreneurs to clarify the reasons behind their rather unique choice.

Findings: The results attempt to highlight the ways in which mature entrepreneurs seek the benefits of starting new careers through their startups.

Research limits: The study would require further information on the resources and skills available and needed by entrepreneurs over 50 starting a new start-up.

Practical implications: this research deepens the understanding of the possible positive local economic impact of entrepreneurs over 50 who have founded a startup. We also identify that entrepreneurial training programs enable the proliferation of new business ventures in the startup ecosystem, particularly for silver entrepreneurs with a background other than being a businessman, manager or business owner.

Originality of the paper: Through this study, the authors propose a new combination of variables such as skills, business background and motivations to start new businesses for people over the age of 50.

Author Biographies

Marco Tregua, University Federico II of Naples

Department of Economics, Management, Istitution

Francesco Carignani, University Federico II of Naples

Department of Economics, Manasgement, Istitution 

Francesco Bifulco

Department of Humanities Studies


AHMAD, S. Z., JABEEN, F., & KHAN, M. (2014). Entrepreneurs choice in business venture: Motivations for choosing home-stay accommodation businesses in Peninsular Malaysia. International Journal of Hospitality Management, 36, 31-40.
AISHA, A. N., SISWANTO, J., AND SUDIRMAN, I. (2016), "Competencies model for entrepreneur development in software industries", 2016 IEEE International Conference on Industrial Engineering and Engineering Management (IEEM), pp. 184-188.
ALBORNOZ PARDO, C. (2013), “Is business creation the mean or the end of entrepreneurship education?: a multiple case study exploring teaching goals in entrepreneurship education”, Journal of Technology Management & Innovation, vol. 8(1), pp. 1-10.
BAINS, I., KAUR H. (2013), “Understanding The Concept Of Entrepreneur Competency”, Journal of Business Management & Social Sciences Research, vol. 2, n.11.
BATES, T. (1990), “Entrepreneur Human Capital Inputs and Small Business Longevity”, Review of Economics and Statistics, vol. 72(4), pp. 551-559.
BASSETT, J. (2019). Emerson DeFord: Artisan, Entrepreneur, Friend. The Flutist Quarterly, 44(4), 48-50.
BOLTON, B., THOMSON, J. (2015), The all-in-one entrepreneur-leader-manager, Routledge, London.
BRYMAN, A., & BELL, E. (2011). Business research methods. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Cahill, K. E., Giandrea, M. D., & Quinn, J. F. (2013). New evidence on self-employment transitions among older Americans with career jobs, n. 463.
CANNON T. (2008), “Silver entrepreneurship: new days, new ways”, Working with Older People, vol. 12 (2).
CLARKE, J. S., & HOLT, R. (2019). Images of entrepreneurship: Using drawing to explore entrepreneurial experience. Journal of Business Venturing Insights, 11, e00129.
COLOMBO, M. G., GRILLI, L., GUERINI, M., PIVA, E., ROSSI LAMASTRA, C. (2011), “L'allargamento dei ranghi manageriali nelle giovani imprese: il caso delle start-up ad alta tecnologia”. L'industria, vol. 32(3), pp. 513-538.
CSOBA, J., & LADANCSIK, T. (2022). The Silver Generation in the labor market: Work and time management of the 65+ age group in North-Eastern Hungary. Journal of Women & Aging, 1-24.
CURRAN, J. BLACKBURN, R. (2001), “Older people and the enterprise society: age and self-employment propensities”, Work, Employment and Society, vol. 15, n. 4, pp. 889- 902.
DE BRUIN, A. M., FERRANTE, F. M. (2011), “Bounded opportunity: A knowledge-based approach to opportunity recognition and development”, Entrepreneurship Research Journal, 1(4).
DUSTIN, J. , HARMAN, W. , LEE, T. AND MITCHELL, T. (2010), “Qualitative research in management: a decade of progress”, Journal of Management Studies, vol. 48(8), pp. 1-26.
ESTAY, C., DURRIEU, F., AKHTER, M. (2013), “Entrepreneurship: From motivation to startup”, Journal of international Entrepreneurship, 11(3), pp. 243-267.
ETZKOWITZ H. (2014), “Anatomy of the entrepreneurial university”, Social Science Information, vol. 52(3), pp. 486–511.
EUROPEAN COMMISSION (2012), “Building Entrepreneurial mindsets and skills in the EU”, Guidebook series, How to support SME policy from Structural Funds.
EUROPEAN UNION (2018), The Silver Economy /publication/a9efa929-3ec7-11e8-b5fe-01aa75ed71a1/language-en/format-PDF
FRANCO, M., DE FATIMA SANTOS, M., RAMALHO, I., & NUNES, C. (2014), “An exploratory study of entrepreneurial marketing in SMEs: The role of the founder-entrepreneur”, Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development, vol. 21(2), pp. 265-283.
FRANKS, J. E., JOHNS, C. (2015), “Entrepreneur assistance & economic development in Florida libraries”, Reference services review.
GOETA, G. F., & FERRÉ, L. (2017), Da manager a imprenditore: Come le startup dei cinquantenni possono far ripartire la nostra economia, FrancoAngeli.
GRECO, F., TREGUA, M. (2022), “It gives you wheels: the university-based accelerators in start-up ecosystems”, International Journal of Entrepreneurship and Small Business, vol. 45(2), pp. 235-257.
GROSU, R. M., & DRĂGUȘIN, M. (2020). Senior entrepreneurship in romania: a quantitative approach. New Trends in Sustainable Business and Consumption, Conference Proceedings, 981-988.
HARMS, R., LUCK, F., KRAUS, S., & WALSH, S. (2014). On the motivational drivers of gray entrepreneurship: An exploratory study. Technological forecasting and social change, 89, 358-365.
HART, M., ANYADIKE-DANES, M., BLACKBURN, R.A. (2004), “Entrepreneurship and age in the UK: comparing Third Age and Prime Age new venture creation across the regions”, paper presented to the RENT XVIII, Copenhagen.
HONIG, B., & MARTIN, B. (2014). Entrepreneurship education. In Handbook of research on entrepreneurship. Edward Elgar Publishing.
HUANG‐SAAD, A. Y., MORTON, C. S., LIBARKIN, J. C. (2018), “Entrepreneurship assessment in higher education: A research review for engineering education researchers”. Journal of Engineering Education, vol. 107(2), pp. 263-290.
ISELE, E., ROGOFF E. G., (2014), “Senior Entrepreneurship: The New Normal”, Public Policy & Aging Report, vol. 24, pp. 141–147, Oxford.
JOHNSTON, W. J., LEACH, M. P., & LIU, A. H. (1999), “Theory testing using case studies in business-to-business research”, Industrial Marketing Management, vol. 28(3), pp. 201-213.
KAUTONEN, T. (2013), Senior Entrepreneurship, A background paper for the OECD Centre for Entrepreneurship, SMEs and Local Development, LEED.
KEMELGOR, B. H., D'SOUZA, R., & HENLEY, G. (2011). The dynamics of entrepreneurial entry and firm performance of first career and second career entrepreneurs as mediated by prior knowledge. American Journal of Entrepreneurship, 4(2), 18.
KERR, G. (2017). The motivations, business satisfaction and commitment of career and later-life older entrepreneurs. Journal of Small Business & Entrepreneurship, 29(2), 140-155.
LAWAL, S., & ADENIRAN, A. M. (2022). Assessment of entrepreneurial challenges on opportunity identification of second career entrepreneurs in North-Western Nigeria. IJBM-International Journal of Business Management, Vol.5(05), pp.1-10.
LEWIS, K. V., & WALKER, E. A. (2013). Third age self‐employment: A business assistance perspective. Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development.
LINARDI, M. A., & COSTA, J. (2021). Appraising the role of age among senior entrepreneurial intentions. European analysis based on HDI. Journal of Entrepreneurship in Emerging Economies, online first.
MAÂLAOUI, A., CASTELLANO, S., SAFRAOU, I., & BOURGUIBA, M. (2013). An exploratory study of seniorpreneurs: A new model of entrepreneurial intentions in the French context. International Journal of Entrepreneurship and Small Business, 20(2), 148-164.
MARTIN, L., OMRANI, N. (2019), “Understanding Senior Entrepreneur Behavior”, Journal of Enterprising Culture, vol. 27, n. 3.
MATOS, C. S., AMARAL, M., BAPTISTA, R. (2018), “Senior entrepreneurship: A selective review and a research agenda”, Foundations and Trends® in Entrepreneurship, vol. 14(5), pp. 427-554.
MARITZ, A. (2019). Senior entrepreneurship perspectives in Australia. In Handbook of research on entrepreneurship and aging. Edward Elgar Publishing.
MATRICANO, D. (2018). Grey vs. young entrepreneurs: are they really that different in terms of entrepreneurial intentions? Empirical evidence from Italy. International Journal of Business and Management, 13(2), 76-86.
MERKEL, S. W. (2016), Silver and the silver economy at Hedeby, Bochum, Germany: VML Verlag Marie Leidorf.
MINARCINE, S., & SHAW, C. (2016). Motivations for entrepreneurship. International Journal of the Academic Business World, 10(2), 47-56.
MITRA, J., & BASIT, A. (2021), “Personal networks and growth aspirations: a case study of second-generation, Muslim, female entrepreneurs”, Small Business Economics, vol. 56(1), pp. 121-143.
NEUTSCHEL, B., GAUS, O., RAITH, M. G., & VAJNA, S. (2012, August). Value-focused thinking: combining product development and entrepreneurial product-to-market strategies. In International Design Engineering Technical Conferences and Computers and Information in Engineering Conference (Vol. 45066, pp. 247-256). American Society of Mechanical Engineers.
PANDIT, N. R. (1996), The creation of theory: A recent application of the grounded theory method. The qualitative report, vol. 2(4), pp. 1-15.
PARAMASIVAN, C., SELLADURAI, M. (2016), “Emerging Trends in New Startup Technopreneurs”, Journal of Business Management, vol. 2 Issue 7.
PEREZ-ENCINAS, A., BUENO, Y., SANTOS, B., & NIETO-MEJIA, C. (2021). Are There Differences and Complementarities between Senior and Young Entrepreneurs? An Intergenerational Perspective. Sustainability, 13(9), 5202.
PERMANA, A., SRIHARTATI R., AKBARDIN J., SETIAWAN A., JATNIKA D., RUSTANDI W. (2020), “Technopreneur Training Model In Building An Entrepreneurship”, Journal of Architectural Research and Education, vol.2 (2) 190-197.
ROSSI, M. (2009). Motivation and entrepreneurial intentions among potential seniors’ entrepreneurs (55+) in Switzerland. International Journal of Knowledge, Culture, and Change Management, 9(8), 181-185.
SHANE, S. (2010), Born entrepreneurs, born leaders: How your genes affect your work life, Oxford University Press.
SHANE, S., NICOLAOU N. (2015), The biological foundations of organizational behavior, University of Chicago Press.
SINGH, G., DENOBLE, A. (2003), “Early retirees as the next generation of entrepreneurs”. Entrepreneurship Theory & Practice, 23, 207-226.
THOMPSON N.J., THOMPSON K.E. (2009), “Can marketing practice keep up with Europe's ageing population?”, European Journal of Marketing, vol. 43, n. 11/12, pp. 1281-1288.
TORNIKOSKI, E. T., & KAUTONEN, T. (2009). Enterprise as sunset career? Entrepreneurial intentions in the ageing population. International Journal of Entrepreneurship and Small Business, 8(2), 278-291.
VAN STIJN, N., VAN RIJNSOEVER, F. J., VAN VEELEN, M. (2018), “Exploring the motives and practices of university–startup interaction: Evidence from Route 128”, The Journal of Technology Transfer, 43(3), 674-713.
VANEVENHOVEN, J. (2013). Advances and challenges in entrepreneurship education. Journal of small business management, 51(3), 466-470.
VILJAMAA, A., JOENSUU-SALO, S., & KANGAS, E. (2021). Part-time entrepreneurship in the third age: well-being and motives. Small Enterprise Research, 1-16.
WARDHANA, L. (2013), Technopreneur, Elex Media Komputindo.
WATKINS-MATHYS, L. (2012). Age and grey entrepreneurship. In Lessons on profiting from diversity (pp. 94-113). Palgrave Macmillan, London.
WEBSTER, B., & WALKER, E. (2005), Smart training for the older entrepreneur, International Council for Small Business.
ZEIN, M., GHALIH M., PEBRIANA R. (2021), Entrepreneurship and Technopreneurship in Era 4.0: GO-JEK Extended to Decacorn, IGI Global.
ZSARNOCZKY, M. (2016), “Innovation challenges of the silver economy”, VADYBA, vol. 28(1), pp. 105-109.