There were some revelations lurking in the data generated by the Kauffman Foundation's Firm Survey, one of the longest and largest studies ever of privately owned startups. Three researchers, Carmen Cotei and Susan Coleman of the University of Hartford and Joseph Farhat of Central Connecticut State University, parsed the rich data to see what effect things like age, gender, and amount of startup capital had on company outcomes after five years.

They were a little amazed at what they learned. For instance, intellectual property had no significant effect on survival or closure. And they found no statistical difference in the survival or closure rates between male- and female-led companies. "This really surprised us," said Farhat. "We haven't been able to establish that definitively before." Time to check a few assumptions at the door when predicting startup winners and losers.