THE MIT FEEDBACK LOOP
MIT has a Demo Day at the beginning of the year that is meant to be an inspirational event. The startup teams from the previous year go onstage and talk about their companies. “You see rockstar teams up there, and you know they were sitting in the audience one year ago,” Aulet says. “We have confetti cannons, T-shirts, and things like that.”
After Demo Day, MIT hosts events, speaker series, and hackathons to help students get the training they need to start a company. “We also have entrepreneurs in residence,” Aulet says. “Students can just come in and talk to them like primary care physicians. We help them suss out their first moves, and we send them to the right talks and the right classes for what they want to do. It’s like a prescription for what they should do next.”
From there, students take the appropriate classes and extracurriculars, and slowly the hundreds of possible entrepreneurs are filtered down to only the most committed. The capstone is the MIT Delta V Accelerator. Students who are accepted into the accelerator present at the following year’s Demo Day, at which point the cycle begins again.
“MIT’s not good at a lot of things,” Aulet says. “But entrepreneurship we’re good at.” He thinks the school produces more entrepreneurs per capita than any other. “Once you get here, nurture takes over,” he says, “and people start saying, ‘Wow, this is great. Why not try it?’”
INVESTORS ARE STICKING TO CERTAIN SCHOOLS
Between prime location, startup culture, and school resources, it isn’t surprising that the same undergraduate programs rank highly every year. The PitchBook report specifically acknowledges that the top schools likely benefited from “geographic proximity to major sources of capital, well-regarded business schools, and deeply rooted monoliths in certain industries” — especially in categories concerning investors.
In fact, the report states that the top 10 schools for entrepreneurs with VC backing has not changed at all between this year’s report and the last. The possibility that investors are mostly looking at schools where they’ve already invested in startups may be seen in the increasing number of VC-backed startups at the already-dominant schools.
“Such incumbent advantages are hard to beat,” the report states. “As caution remains high in light of the tremors in financial markets and general unease at the relative health of the global economy, will investors remain firmly fixed on playing it safe within the geographical realms they know?”
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