Best Schools For Entrepreneurs


“When I grow up, I want to start my own company.”

Bet you wouldn’t hear baby boomers exclaim that in sixth grade. Back then, they imagined themselves becoming Alan Shepard or Jackie Kennedy, pushing boundaries and promoting justice. In the end, many never found their calling. Gen-X?  After Vietnam and Watergate, they just wanted calm and balance. Thanks to their bad timing, they faced diminished prospects and big debts.

Millennials Gravitating Towards Entrepreneurship

Millennials, however, are a different story. Confident and civic-minded, Gen-Y seeks out opportunities, not jobs. Natural networkers, millennials are optimistic about the future, making them more inclined to take risks. Reared on technology, nimble at multitasking, and attracted to teams, they are the prototype for entrepreneurs who thrive in uncertain and down-and-dirty launches. Maybe these mindsets are why over half of millennials have either started a business or hope to launch one, according to a 2011 Kauffman Foundation Generation Research Review.

Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg

Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg

Yeah, Mark Zuckerberg has made entrepreneurship cool again. Let’s face it: Dropping out of school to become another ‘hacker in a hoodie’ is just a romantic fairytale, no different than boomers hitting the road with Sal Paradise and Dean Moriarity. To succeed in entrepreneurship, it takes more than ideas, desire, and endurance. Millennials also need solid business fundamentals, like-minded peers, alumni networks, and capital (and lots of it).

For the past decade, millennials have populated the world’s undergraduate business and MBA programs. That means they now have a track record. When it comes to entrepreneurship, which programs are doing best at preparing the next Steve Jobs or Elon Musk?


This week, PitchBook, a leading provider of private equity and venture capital research, released its annual list of the Top Universities for VC-Based Entrepreneurs. The list is based on PitchBook’s database of 13,000 founders who launched VC-backed companies over the past five years. Along with founders and companies, it also includes the amount of capital raised for these ventures (and the names of many funded startups as well).

Stanford Tops Among Undergrad Programs

Not surprisingly, Stanford topped the list among graduates with bachelor’s degrees. Accoring to Pitchbook’s data, Stanford grads launched 309 VC-backed startups that raised over $3.5 billion dollars in venture capital. With 17% of Stanford MBAs populating the top VC firmsand Stanford alumni founding companies ranging from Google and Cisco to Netflix and – the school offers the perfect community for students seeking entrepreneurial success.

UC-Berkeley's Haas School of Business

UC-Berkeley’s Haas School of Business

To visit the #2 school, aspiring entrepreneurs only need to cross the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge and head east to Berkeley, where Cal graduates founded only 25 fewer startups than Stanford (but raised $1.1 billion dollars less). You’ll find a similar dynamic in Boston, Massachusetts, where MIT and Harvard rank #3 and #5, with MIT producing 21 more companies and Harvard generating $800 million more in capital (with Boston University, Boston College, and the University of Massachusetts also ranking in the top 50). Down the road, Yale outpunched its #12 ranking, raising over $2 billion dollars for its 131 startups. That’s $15.7 million dollars per startup, on average!

Overseas, the Indian Institute of Technology, a series of campuses across India, raised $369 million dollars less than Stanford. On average, their startups received nearly $4 million dollars more (per company) in funding than those founded by Stanford alums. Israel’s Tel Aviv University also cracked the top 10.


Harvard Rules the MBA Rankings

Among MBA programs, the Harvard Business School ranked #1, generating $4.236 billion dollars in funding from VCs, nearly $700 million more than Stanford undergrads over the past five years (and a billion more than Harvard undergrads). Stanford MBAs finished second among b-schools, with 201 companies backed by nearly $3 billion in VC capital. Wharton rounded out the top 3 with $2.1 billion in investment.

Internationally, France’s INSEAD ranked #7 overall, with 92 companies scooping up $1.2 billion in investment. As with undergrads, Tel Aviv MBAs finished second among schools outside the United States.

Northwestern's Kellogg School of Management

Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management

The biggest surprise on this list? Just head to Lake Michigan, where Kellogg MBAs scored $1.5 billion in venture capital, compared to the $842 million raised by Northwestern undergrads. Across town, the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, which didn’t even place among the top 50 for undergrads, jumped into the top 10 with nearly $1.4 billion in commitments from VCs. Similarly, Babson College, a mecca for entrepreneurship, also made the top 20 among MBAs, raising $483 million for 35 startups.

To see how much venture capital has been raised by graduates of the top undergrad and MBA programs over the past five years, go to the next pages (which include many of the companies that benefitted from these investments).

Don’t Miss: How Stanford Cultivates Its Startup Culture

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