Characteristics of Successful Entrepreneurs (SAAS) is a SaaS Database, which contains data from over 1,000 manual interviews with CEO's of SAAS (Software as a service) tech companies.

The data we harvested is all publicly available and in the link below. At the time we harvested the data there was a statement on the website that said "You are only seeing a very small percentage of data. Click here to unlock it all and export." It was also stated that there are 1,082 companies in the database. The dataset we have contains 606 rows. So we have 56% of the available data.

The dataset is rare in that the information is all manually generated and contains metrics on private companies typically not publicly available. Having listened to a few of the podcasts it's surprising that Nathan Latka is able to get this information out of these CEO's. Some metrics include Number of Customers, Revenue, Churn Rates, Customer LTV and CEO Age and much more.


Based on the information in the dataset (which can be easily viewed here on Kaggle), we defined "Success" as financials.arr_min (minimum annual recurring revenue). We then looked at how success varied with respect to various characteristics about the CEO's in the dataset.

The data seems to indicate that CEO's tend to be more successful if they:

Some other interesting statistics:

Successful CEO's tend to be older

CEO's that are older tend to do better, This is expected given older CEO's likely have more experience, capital and connections to draw from.


One problem with looking at the univariate relationship between revenue and age is that younger CEO's haven't had time for their companies to grow. However, if we control for Years in business we get a similar result, older CEO's still do better although the relationship is less marked. This goes against the stereotype that tech companies are for the young.


Successful CEO's tend to be married

CEO's that are married tend to do better. This aligns with general findings about salaries of married professionals.


Controlling for years in business we get a similar result. It therefore seems unlikely that these CEO's are only getting married because they are successful.


Successful CEO's tend to have more children

CEO's that have children tend to do better. The stakes are higher when kids are involved so maybe this acts as motivation for CEO's.


Controlling for years in business results are a little mixed suggesting that having kids due to success is potentially at play here also.


Successful CEO's tend to sleep less

CEO's that sleep less tend to do better. This would make sense given that they have more hours in their day. The highest revenues come in with those that sleep between 6 and 7 hours.


The relationship here is somewhat inconclusive with a p-value of (0.87). Although things seem to be edging in favour of less sleep.



The data includes who the CEO's favorite CEO was. Elon Musk is the clear winner.

CEO name Count Percentage
Elon Musk 94 19.96%
Jeff Bezos 35 7.43%
Marc Benioff 17 3.61%
Steve Jobs 11 2.34%
Mark Zuckerberg 10 2.12%
Satya Nadella 9 1.91%
Jason Lemkin 8 1.70%
David Cancel 7 1.49%
Bill Gates 7 1.49%
Brian Halligan 6 1.27%

CEO's Favorite Tool

The data includes what the CEO's favorite tool was. Slack is the clear winner.

CEO Favorite Tool Count Percentage
Slack 58 10.64%
Intercom 28 5.14%
Trello 22 4.04%
Hubspot 19 3.49%
Salesforce 16 2.94%
Asana 15 2.75%
Gmail 13 2.39%
Evernote 9 1.65%
Google Docs 8 1.47%
Stripe 7 1.28%

CEO's Favorite Book

The data includes what the CEO's favorite book was. The Hard Thing About Hard Things is the clear winner.

CEO Favorite Book Count Percentage
The Hard Thing About Hard Things 37 6.61%
Good To Great 24 4.29%
Zero to One 19 3.39%
Rework 11 1.96%
Predictable Revenue 8 1.43%
Crossing the Chasm 7 1.25%
Lean Startup 6 1.07%
Influence 6 1.07%
High Output Management 6 1.07%
Play Bigger 6 1.07%

CEO advice

They also asked the CEO's to give a piece of advice. This was a little tricker due to high sparsity. We removed stop words and punctuation to get the following.

CEO Advice Count Percentage
take risks 5 0.92%
learn code 5 0.92%
patient 5 0.92%
travel 3 0.55%
confident 3 0.55%
start company faster 3 0.55%
focus 3 0.55%
dont take seriously 2 0.37%
enjoy life 2 0.37%
enjoy process 2 0.37%