Poll: Teens Say Bill Gates is the “Greatest Entrepreneur Alive Today”; Most Teens Interested in Starting a Business

Survey by Junior Achievement USA® Highlights JA Launch Lesson, a New Initiative to Put Entrepreneurs in Classrooms as Part of National Entrepreneurship Month in November

Washington — According to a survey of 1,000 teens conducted by Junior Achievement USA and ORC International, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates is the “Greatest Entrepreneur Alive Today,” far outpacing household names like Mark Cuban, Mark Zuckerberg and Donald Trump. Of those teens expressing an opinion, more than a third (37%) picked Bill Gates, followed by entertainment legends Beyoncé (15%) and Oprah Winfrey (11%). Donald Trump and Mark Zuckerberg trailed (tied at 7%), as did Taylor Swift and Mark Cuban (3%). Daymond John and Barbara Corcoran rounded out the list (tied at 1%).

The JA Launch Lesson highlights current JA programs by bringing an inspiring entrepreneur into the classroom for one hour during the week to share his or her experience with students. The program is designed to be simple for the entrepreneurs to implement, but impactful for the teens participating. For example, during a JA experience, students can learn how to create a business plan or successfully interview for a job.

“JA is known for bringing entrepreneurship education into the classroom,” said Jack E. Kosakowski, president and CEO of Junior Achievement USA. “What makes this initiative different is that it is an intensive experience designed specifically for today’s up-and-coming business owner who might not otherwise have time in his or her busy day to engage as a mentor to young people.”

“For Junior Achievement of Greater Washington, connecting our nation’s future entrepreneurs with today’s entrepreneurs is a critical component of our work,” said Ed Grenier, President and CEO of Junior Achievement of Greater Washington. “While young people look up to these pillars of entrepreneurial success, today’s teens may be more risk averse than previous generations and are seeking our real role models who can help them gain aa better understanding of what’s possible.”

According to another survey of 500 teens conducted by JA and ORC International, most 13-17 year olds (87%) have an interest in starting their own business. Nearly half (47%) of teens who expressed an interest would only consider doing so if they were given information on how to run a business, while one-in-five (20%) would only do so if someone was willing to lend them money to start a business. One-in-ten (11%) would if they knew someone who owns their own business, while nearly as many (9%) would need to have a family member with their own business to feel confident enough to become an entrepreneur.

Last year, more than 10,000 students in 400 classrooms in 33 JA areas participated in JA Launch Lesson. Among students surveyed, 81 percent were motivated to learn more about entrepreneurship, while 98 percent of entrepreneurs surveyed said they enjoyed the experience and would volunteer again.

To help engage entrepreneurs in the JA Launch Lesson, JA will be working with organizations including the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) and the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).

In Greater Washington, Junior Achievement is partnering with a number of our region’s leading entrepreneurs and classrooms throughout the District, Maryland, and Virginia to provide nearly 1,000 students with an inspiring look at how entrepreneurs and small business are the accelerators of our economy, as well as what’s possible when they work hard, dream big, and set out to change the world. For more information on the JA Launch Lesson program, including signing up as an entrepreneur or educator, please visit www.myja.org/programs/jalaunchlesson.


This report presents the findings of two Opinion Research Corporation’s Youth CARAVAN surveys conducted among a sample of 1,002 and 500 13-17 year olds. Respondents for these surveys are selected from among those who have volunteered to participate in online surveys and polls. Because the sample is based on those who initially self-selected for participation, no estimates of sampling error are calculated.