Perhaps mate, though i don't think position in the MV has anything to do with starting an empire. I think the name, theme and role play of an empire is the most important thing that attracts people to a new empire. Take the ToE for instance, the theme of the empire is in the name, so those who gravitate toward evil in their games may well join or at least consider the ToE just on that premise alone. The role play in the ToE, though understated is that we enjoy devouring others and that we take pleasure from it, not the most appealing notion but i think most take it as the tongue in cheek attitude that it is. The Kzinti are a great example of an attractive empire. KP's charisma aside, the Kzinti Empire is based on a well known and loved piece of science fiction, a perfect "hook" for players and the theme and role play are all there for the emperor and his members to build off.
Another important aspect to any empire is the Emperor and the members themselves. Take a look at an empire that has few members, say around 5. Do you know any of them? Sure there will be exceptions to the rule but an empire with an emperor who has forum presence is going to be attractive straight off the bat then one without. Same goes for the empire's members. An empire with a player base that has a great forum presence will do exceptional where a empire with players who keep to themselves may not fair so well.
Being active as an emperor is a great factor too. Look at AlexAtticus from the HCH or more so, KP. The Kzin have more members then any other empire as did the HCH before them. It's all down to the charisma and persuasiveness of the emperor. The ToE has a rather small member base but is very active, which is what has attracted us more members than anything else. The Toe also was started in the demise of the HCH of which Marshall, Motti and myself were all members, so when that ship was sinking i created the ToE and we came here. Having three very active members in the ToE that were all well known is what got us up the pointy end of the MV. KP used his game skill and recruiting prowess along with a fantastic empire idea to get the Kzin ball rolling. (the little gold medal does all the work for him now
Sorry for the long winded answer, but will being in the top 10 get you more members, maybe. But being an active and prominent emperor with a "hook" will probably get you more.
Good luck mate.