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We are so interested in entrepreneurs that we’ve been studying them for 15 years. Our assessment of thriving startup founders has proven that we share the same quality - curiosity.  

Why do people who make a decision to start a business have it in spades? In this article, we will see how curiosity correlates with entrepreneurship and what scientists who investigated it have discovered. Finally, we will share intriguing insights about the personalities of successful founders.

Are Curiosity and Innovation the Same Thing?

Often, entrepreneurship is associated with qualities like openness to experience, innovativeness, and creativity. Curiosity also falls in that category of helpful attitudes. However, they are not all interchangeable. While openness to experience is needed to accommodate change, it doesn’t necessarily involve learning new things. Alternatively, innovativeness is the ability to think independently and introduce new ideas, but to own that, you should have a genuine desire to know and learn something first.

Interestingly, there’s not a huge variety of studies on curiosity compared to innovation, risk tolerance, autonomy, and other typical traits assigned to startup founders. Nevertheless, the subject becomes more popular with time and some of the recent empirical works available describe curiosity as closely connected to entrepreneurial intention and orientation.

Nevertheless, in our interactions and evaluations of aspiring founders, we’ve figured out that curiosity is valuable during every stage of entrepreneurship

It equally sustains market research, ideation, customer development, competitive research, product testing and development, pivoting, and even fundraising.

Curiosity 360

Curiosity motivates us

Apart from being a trigger for exploration, curiosity can also be influenced by a yearning for better life conditions. A study called ‘’The Effect of Curiosity On the Perception of Entrepreneurial Opportunity’’ published in 2021, reveals a chain reaction between motivation, curiosity, and perception of opportunity

''Highly motivated entrepreneurs have a greater impact of curiosity on opportunity perception compared to medium and low motivated entrepreneurs.’’

The research also explains how curiosity accelerates business creation, although it doesn’t provide evidence that the quality directly affects a venture’s success.

Curious people make a good team

Curiosity comes in a package with a love for knowledge and an ability to listen, understand, and process information. These characteristics, in turn, enable collaboration and psychological safety within a team. 

Moreover, a team with a curious disposition is likely to socialize efficiently and unite around  common vision, mission, and purpose.

Learn more about team dynamics within a startu

5 dimensions of curiosity

Harvard Business Review compiled several well-known studies to create the concept of 5 dimensions of curiosity. It’s fascinating how each one of them can represent an actual early-stage startup competence or activity.

  1. Recognizing a gap the filling of which offers relief - identifying market opportunity

  2. Exploration - idea validation

  3. Social curiosity - networking

  4. Stress tolerance - perseverance

  5. Thrill seeking - taking financial risks

Founder Institute’s Data on Curiosity 

Throughout our quest to decode the DNA of successful founders, we have tested over 175,000 people. Thanks to our data-driven approach, we’ve been constantly optimizing the DNA Assessment methodology by feeding in new insights.

Here’s what we have detected:

  • Curious startup founders possess mental flexibility and resourcefulness. They are comfortable with taking risks.
  • On the contrary, entrepreneurs who score low on curiosity appear solid and stable but might be too cautious at times.
  • The trait of curiosity generated a ceiling effect among the aspiring entrepreneurs we have tested. This means that an unusually large number of people who did the DNA Assessment had very high scores in this particular aspect of their personality. Hence, we can confidently say that curiosity is widely spread among entrepreneurs.
  • The 5 cities where startup founders scored the highest on curiosity are Curitiba, Belo Horizonte, Lima, Sao Paolo, and Salvador. It’s worth noting that all of them are in LATAM and Spain.

  • Founders with less curiosity are more likely to keep their companies alive. Eventually, there’s also a positive side to not being excessively curious.

Curiosity is a journey. It leads to knowledge, which ignites calculated efforts, and those efforts bring success. Your startup won’t work if you stop at knowledge or focus solely on efforts without backing them with meaning and evidence.

Where are you standing on the curiosity spectrum? Get your free and instant results here.

Another topic that deserves attention is how curiosity combines with other traits, but we will keep that for one of our next posts about entrepreneurial traits. 

Until then, don’t forget to check your unique Entrepreneur DNA and see how you compare to 175,000 startup founders worldwide.

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The Founder Institute is the world’s most proven network to turn ideas into fundable startups, and startups into global businesses. Since 2009, our highly-structured accelerator programs have helped entrepreneurs raised over $1.75BN in funding across over 200 cities worldwide.

Learn more about the Founder Institute at, join an upcoming startup event at, or subscribe to our Insights Newsletter.

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