The Top Universities Producing VC-Backed Entrepreneurs

The Top Universities Producing VC-Backed Entrepreneurs by PitchBook


Third time’s the charm.

We’ve ranked the top universities producing venture capital-backed entrepreneurs twice before, so the challenge has become how to make this particular edition even more interesting, informative and insightful. In our first feature, we ranked the top 10 universities with undergraduate alumni who founded companies that received a first round of VC financing overall, then followed that up with rankings by year. In our second, we expanded our data by quite a bit. We listed the top 50 universities, then looked at the top 25 global MBA programs producing entrepreneurs who garnered VC. In addition, we looked at which programs ranked highest for VC-backed female entrepreneurs.

Both features were very popular, so how did we top that this time around? First, the expected: We’ve updated our previous rankings of undergraduate and MBA programs worldwide to track numbers from the start of 2010 through the end of July 2015, drawing from our expanded VC database of 25,000+ valuations, 970,000+ people and 78,000+ VC-backed companies. To top the tables off, we ranked the top undergrad and MBA programs producing founders of unicorns-companies that have achieved a private valuation of $1 billion or more.

Top Universities For VC-backed Entrepreneurs

At the end of the day, the venture industry is based on relationships. We’ve heard many experienced investors say time and again how crucial a factor the proper team is, or how once they have built a strong enough relationship with certain people, they will follow them nearly anywhere. The interplay between entrepreneur and investor, between startup teams, between limited partner and general partner, all form the human nexus that enables the flow of money to innovation.

Top Universities For VC-backed Entrepreneurs

How does this relate to university programs producing entrepreneurs? There’s a fairly strong case to be made that often it’s not even the degree you graduate with but the personal connections you make in your time at school that determine your future. Which professors you interacted with the most, which classmates you bonded with closely—the people you end up spending the most time with, in short, end up directing your path. For entrepreneurs this is especially true. You may have the technical savvy and know-how that a degree in mechanical engineering confers, but do you know how to construct a 90-day business launch plan? How are your public relations skills? It is easier than ever to connect with people around the world nowadays, but in an era of depersonalized communication, personal connections come at a premium. Direct networks are more highly prized nowadays—especially the networks formed during the formative years of degree programs, when you are surrounded by like-minded individuals.

That is why it’s so interesting to examine the rankings of the programs producing the most entrepreneurs. It’s to be expected that top-notch schools lend themselves to the types of ambitious, inspired innovators who start plenty of companies and rake in plenty of venture capital. Yet that just goes to show just how valuable the networks created by those types of people are while they are at school. It also is impressive to see how many companies have been started by entrepreneurs from those schools, not to mention how much VC they have garnered. Founders from the top 10 undergrad programs alone have created over 3,000 companies and raked in $33.5 billion in VC.

Top Universities For VC-backed Entrepreneurs

Going down the list, things get a bit more interesting. It’s not just globally renowned private universities that can boast plenty of entrepreneurs. Public U.S. state schools such as UCLA, UC Berkeley, the University of Washington and others make a strong showing in the undergraduate tables, all ranking in the top 25. As for MBA programs, it makes sense INSEAD and Tel Aviv University ascend up the list, with their established professional programs unsurprisingly turning out a considerable number of entrepreneurial sorts.

Another interesting insight gleaned from these tables is the confluence of venture capital, established industries and academic hotspots. Silicon Valley is the prime example of all three, but as we noted in our prior Universities feature, the University of Michigan and University of Colorado both represent the intersection of emerging or maturing startup ecosystems and academia. Our geographic breakdown further illustrates such intersections: The strength of Israel’s tech scene is well known by now, while healthy numbers from no fewer than four India-based MBA programs-Indian School of Business, Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad, IIMCalcutta and IIM-Bangalore-point to the spreading global reach of the maturing venture industry.

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