Top Public Universities For Startup Founders

The new $60 million Connie & Kevin Chou Hall on UC-Berkeley’s Haas School of Business. Haas photo

When it comes to startup founders that have recently raised large amounts of funding, one public university graduates more than all others and it’s not even close. According to Crunchbase data reported by Techcrunch, the University of California-Berkeley had more graduate founders raise at least $1 million in funding between May 2018 and May 2019 than any other public university with 240 founders. Trailing far behind is the University of California-Los Angeles (UCLA) with 85 graduate founders that raised at least $1 million in startup funding during the yearlong time-frame.

Berkeley’s dominance makes sense. It’s Northern California location is across the San Francisco Bay from the heart of venture capital in San Francisco and Silicon Valley. Including private schools, only nearby Stanford University and Boston’s Massachusetts Institute of Technology had more founders raise at least $1 million over the past year. That’s right, Berkeley even beat out traditional entrepreneurship power, Harvard University.

Two large Midwestern universities follow the two University of California system schools. The University of Michigan had 76 founders raise at least $1 million over the past year while the University of Illinois had 63 do the same. Rounding out the top five is the University of Washington, which had 61 founders raise at least $1 million.

Interestingly, the data doesn’t show many advantages in fundraising based on geographical locale. Besides Berkeley’s Bay Area location, schools from basically all regions of the country pop-up in the data. Michigan, Illinois, and the University of Wisconsin all represent the Midwest. While the University of Michigan, University of Virginia, and Pennsylvania State University show up for the Mid-Atlantic regions. The University of Texas-Austin, Georgia Tech, the University of Florida, and UNC-Chapel Hill help represent elite Southern public universities. And the University of Colorado, in the rich Boulder entrepreneurship ecosystem is a hub for the Rocky Mountain states.

The data shows that it doesn’t take an Ivy League or other elite private school degree to attract venture capital funding. Many public universities, while also elite, are pumping out smart and savvy entrepreneurs that know how to pitch venture capitalists.

One thing many of the top universities do have in common is an elite undergraduate business school. Every university on the list besides UCLA and the University of California-San Diego have undergraduate business schools. Both UCLA and UCSD have graduate schools of business.


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