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    Mid-career professionals increasingly create startup companies

    Jonathan and Laura Gouveia at their home in North Reading with their daughter Stella, 2.
    Kayana Szymczak for The Boston Globe
    Jonathan and Laura Gouveia at their home in North Reading with their daughter Stella, 2.

    Although Jonathan Gouveia isn’t from an entrepreneurial family, the North Reading resident said he “just dove right in” after settling on a plan to make some additional income in late 2002.

    Having been in several weddings, he reflected on the variety of groomsmen gifts — among them, an action hero figurine and a cooler filled with Coors Light — that suggested the grooms had struggled for ideas.

    After his research confirmed the market opportunity, Gouveia launched Groomsday ( in early 2003. The website sells traditional gifts such as beer mugs and steins, along with personalized whiskey barrel signs and the Scorzie Koozie, a beer chiller and game scorekeeper.


    Gouveia, 42, who works full time at a search marketing agency in Waltham, said his business generates a “modest” income and is preferable to a second job outside the home.

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    “You really have to work hard, especially when you first get a business going, but I like being my own boss,” he said. “I like . . . calling my own shots. Even if they’re wrong sometimes, they’re still mine.”

    Gouveia is among a number of professionals running or starting their own businesses, said Andrew Corbett, professor of entrepreneurship and faculty director of the John E. and Alice L. Butler Venture Accelerator Program at Babson College in Wellesley.

    “There’s a misconception where we look at entrepreneurs like rock stars and think, ‘I can’t be like that. I can’t do that,’ ” he said. “The fact is, there is a proven method of teaching the entrepreneurial skill set and mindset, which I firmly believe are valuable for any of us.”

    Corbett is a coauthor of the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor’s 2013 United States Report , which showed 39 million Americans, or nearly 13 percent of the 18- to 64-year-old working-age population, were running or starting their own business — the highest rate of entrepreneurship reported among 25 developed economies in North America, Europe, and Asia.


    There were seven female entrepreneurs for every 10 males, with entrepreneurship rates peaking in mid-career (20 percent at ages 35 to 44) for men and early to mid-career (13 percent among ages 25 to 34 and 35 to 44) for women. Yet, Americans 55 to 64 years old emerged as the fastest-growing segment worldwide.

    Mid-career and senior entrepreneurship makes perfect sense, Corbett said, because mature workers generally have broad experience, some degree of financial independence, and greater risk tolerance. Regardless of age, he said, entrepreneurship is an attainable goal.

    Those looking for help getting started have several options north of Boston. The Enterprise Center at Salem State University offers programming such as workshops, business breakfasts, and CEO groups. A free Starting a Business workshop April 14 will offer an overview of issues in marketing, finance, and operations.

    The nonprofit Entrepreneurship for All , or EforAll, based in Lawrence and Lowell, holds pitch contests, entrepreneur talks, workshops, twice-yearly accelerator programs, and an annual summit in June. The deadline to apply for the next pitch contest — which offers prizes of $500 to $1,000 — is April 2.

    The North Shore Technology Council, based at the Cummings Center in Beverly, is a good resource for tech startups. The nonprofit is hosting a Taking Your Business Global-themed mix and mingle on April 8 and a breakfast about online marketing on April 29.


    West of Boston, Yuanyuan Yin and her husband, Dylan Murphy, were building successful careers at IBM when two events caused the Newton couple to reassess their busy, corporate-focused lives.

    Early last year, Murphy’s brother, Josh Krauss of Long Beach, N.Y., unexpectedly died at age 32. A few weeks later, Yin endured a lengthy hospitalization and recovery from severe food poisoning while visiting her family in China.

    “After those experiences back to back, we just said, ‘What are we doing? Are we leaving the mark we want?’  ” Murphy recalled.

    Yin, 31, and Murphy, 32, quit their jobs to start a business that would add inspiration and meaning to their lives.

    SuperHealos , launched with cofounder Kathryn Jones of Milford in December, offers morale-boosting hospital gowns, capes, and accessories to comfort and empower children coping with illness, grief, bullying, and other challenges.

    “Massachusetts is a great place to start a business,” said Yin, an MBA student at Babson.

    Cindy Cantrell can be reached at Globe correspondent Erica Moser contributed to this article..