The Top Universities Producing VC-Backed Entrepreneurs

The Top Universities Producing VC-Backed Entrepreneurs

The Top Universities Producing VC-Backed Entrepreneurs by PitchBook


Third time’s the charm.

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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.

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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.

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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  1. as far as rankings for biz schools by class size which is the most important metric for comparison reasons it’s

    1. Stanford
    2. MIT
    3. Harvard

  2. btw… who do you think had the top compensation of any university president? and it wasn’t even a contest. personally I think it’s BS though… so I don’t think it’s a good thing.

  3. You didn’t answer my question, as usual. So are Stanford professors ignorant and idiots because they get W2 forms? How about the CEOs in the Silicon Valley?

  4. Marcus, that’s very nice but that’s all in the present. I am talking about the future when silicon will be replaced with other technologies. Get it? The future? Which is different from the present?

  5. Stanford has disrupted higher education now leads the country in many metrics… and that pisses you off… since you got eclipsed…. good! lolz

    you’re ignorant.. understand the tax code… and stop working for the man. W2 = idiot

  6. Not really. The word silicon makes most people think of fake boobs. Pretty soon silicon’s physical limits in electronic circuits will be reached, and other things will be the next chip material. I guess then the phrase Silicon Valley will sound obsolete, wouldn’t it?

  7. Not really, I just feel sorry for you because all you know are some stats you got off the internet and you think that makes you a Stanford expert or affiliate or whatever. I’m guessing it’s some kind of a psychological compensatory mechanism for never having attended a decent college.

    When did I say I get a W2? Who’s the idiot now? And are all the Stanford professors who collect W2’s idiots based on your premise? How about all the Google executives who get their paychecks from the company?

  8. You sound like a broken record. It always comes back to the admissions stats, doesn’t it, Marcus? Because that’s the only thing you know about these schools. The fact that you think this dumb book is worth anything reveals a lot. Self-respecting individuals would be embarrassed to admit that they have even heard of this book.

  9. baloney.. that’s why Harvard now finds it necessary to advertise on facebook.. and admits more than 1/2 its class to goose its stats… and Stanford is the main reason. Harvard is probably the worst offender in terms of window dressing its admission stats.. but Yale Princeton and the other ivies play the same game to goose their stats.

    btw.. if you collect a W2 you are not going to ever accumulate wealth… get a clue.. or become a guru and start selling those books you hate.

  10. You just don’t seem to get that it’s not about acceptance rates and class sizes and so forth. I mean, I sort of understand since you’ve never actually experienced what it’s like to be at an elite university from the inside. You seem to get genuinely excited by the prestige and the brand names and stuff, which is pretty amusing. Keep it up, my friend!

    Just to let you know, there are types of creative and important work in addition to working for someone else (which I assume is what you mean by a “job”) or trying your hand at amateur investing based on some dumb financial advice books. Ever think about why the author makes his money by selling books instead of by investing, if he is really so good at investing? Good luck with your investing career! I still think your best bet is to volunteer at the Stanford Admissions Office. They may not pay you anything at the beginning, but who knows?

  11. your second mistake was getting a job. didn’t you read rich dad poor dad? stop being a poor dad.

    btw.. Stanford’s incoming freshman class is now larger than Harvard’s and despite all the EA games and facebook ads is still whooping your butt.

  12. Hey Marcus, I do apologize for being slow to reply because unlike yourself, I actually have serious work to do.

    If I were you, I would try contacting the Stanford admissions office to see if they might pay you a little bit of money for your tireless work on the internet (unless you are already on their payroll). It might help you move out of your mom’s basement.

    Even if they will never accept you for an actual Stanford degree, I’m sure they appreciate your blind dedication to Stanford.

  13. hey John, you’re a little slow with the replies.. can you put your Harvard degree to some constructive use and speed it up. thanks mucho

  14. Hmm, I guess the free application comment stung, huh?
    Why does Harvard accept 57% of its EA applicants? Because the EA applicants are the strongest subgroup and on top of that, they all really want to come to Harvard? Duh…

  15. hey why don’t you guys advertise on Craiglist too! along with Facebook.. I’m sure you’ll find some qualified candidates there..

  16. No, Stanford sends letters to thousands of pre-selected applicants inviting them to apply and waives their application fees. I guess you’ve never gotten one of those invitations, huh?

  17. At least Harvard doesn’t send out free applications like Stanford to a bunch of applicants begging them to apply. That’s stooping very low.

    By the way, why all this effort when you have no real connection to Stanford, Marcus? Did you buy a fake Stanford diploma to hang up on your wall?

  18. hey you know John maybe you’d be more successful if you named the Cambridge area.. Silicon Harbor… catchy don’t you think?

  19. And yet you desperately keep trying to equate Stanford with Silicon Valley, hoping some of the Silicon Valley mystique will rub off. LOL

  20. You didn’t answer my question.
    BTW, the Department of Education data is not a survey. It tracks everyone so it’s nothing like the businessinsider crap.

  21. of course it’s not reliable because Harvard is number 22.. lolz! btw.. Stanford is the most selective university in the US with the highest yield, lowest admit rate. In addition Stanford only accepts 1/3 of it’s class EA whereas Harvard accepts over half its class EA to goose its yield… and Harvard started advertising on FB for applications last year… #secondtoStanford #desperate

  22. That data is not reliable because it’s based on surveys of a small number of people while the DOE data is comprehensive. What good is having a little higher starting salary if it’s going to be reversed in a few years and you will make less money for the rest of your life?

  23. that’s why Stanford is the most innovative University based on reuters recent study.
    that’s why Silicon Valley is located around Stanford and not Cambridge.

  24. stanford median starting salary $62,900 ranks 6

    harvard median starting salary $57,700 ranks 22

    Starbucks is calling John…btw.. they have good benefits.

  25. Engineers have an edge in getting jobs right after graduation. But you do know that Harvard College grads eventually make more money than Stanford grads, don’t you?
    Median salary Harvard College 10 years after graduation = $87,200, Stanford – $80,900
    Average salary Harvard College (male) = $172,000, Stanford = $151,000
    Average salary Harvard College (female) = $112,000, Stanford = $94,000
    Top 10% salary Harvard College = over $250,000, Stanford = $232,000
    Federal loan debt at graduation Harvard College = $6,000, Stanford = $12,224
    (From College Scorecard, U.S. Department of Education 2015)

  26. Is that why there are 74 Harvard College grads and only 18 Stanford grads who won the McArthur “Genius” Award for exceptional creativity?

    Is that why Harvard College and MBA grads got $11.7 billion VC capital and Stanford BA and MBA grads only got $9.97 billion? Please explain.

  27. … I’m sure you’re great at poetry… you graduated from a great liberal arts university. maybe you can get a job at Starbucks.

  28. Stanford has taken the pole position… Harvard is still a great East Coast Liberal Arts University though and will never be as good as Stanford in innovation, startups or tech

  29. What’s it to you, marcus? It’s not like you will ever go to Stanford or anything. It’s nowhere as good as Harvard, but you still have to be somewhat intelligent to get in.

  30. You are the king of cherrypicking. Did you read what I wrote above about how Harvard undergrads and MBAs go into important things other than VC, like winning Nobel Prizes or writing poetry or running for public offices or running big, famous companies instead of small start-ups? Here, let me summarize it for you:

    1) Larger percentages of Stanford undergrads and MBAs go into VC than their Harvard counterparts
    2) Fewer Harvard undergrads go into VC, but they raise more money per capita than Stanford
    3) Lower percentages of Harvard MBAs go into VC, but because the class size is bigger, there are more VC entrepreneurs, and they also raise more money per capita than Stanford.
    4) The grand total VC capital raised for Harvard is greater than for Stanford

    Conclusion: Stanford tries harder but Harvard is more successful at the individual level and also as a collective group.

  31. Stanford dominates undergrad and both have similar class sizes.

    as far as MBA
    Stanford 394 Company 341
    harvard 557 Company 497
    Stanford’s class size is less than half of Harvard’s

  32. 472 companies from Stanford vs. 468 companies from Berkeley?
    $5.896 billion from Stanford undergrads vs. $4.955 billion from Harvard undergrads? (despite there being fewer Harvard grads doing the VC thing)
    I call that pretty close.

  33. Are we looking at the same table? It sure doesn’t look like Stanford dominates. It’s a tiny bit better than others and on a per capita basis, Stanford grads raise less money than Harvard grads. It’s not the kind of domination where Harvard produces more Fortune 500 CEOs than Wharton, Stanford, Chicago, and Northwestern combined, for example.

  34. like I said.. it’s trying. and now that it’s the second most selective university behind Stanford.. it has something to shoot for.

  35. Ah, but Harvard MBAs don’t just do VC, but also run Fortune 500 companies (4 times more Fortune 500 CEOs than Stanford MBAs), run the Wall Street banking firms, entertainment, media, and government. Of those Harvard MBAs who decide to pursue VC, they do better than Stanford MBAs at the individual level.
    Harvard MBAs $12.1 million per person
    Stanford MBAs $10.3 million per person

    Likewise, Harvard undergrads don’t just do VC, but also become leaders in politics, law, medicine, education, business, finance, sciences, arts, humanities, journalism, media/entertainment, and government. Of those Harvard undergrads who decide to pursue VC, they do better than Stanford undergrads at the individual level.
    Harvard undergards $12.3 million per person
    Stanford undergrads $10.5 million per person

    And when you add up the VC money together, Harvard graduates account for a larger fraction of the VC money than Stanford
    total Harvard VC capital raised = $11.7 billion
    total Stanford VC capital raised = $9.973 billioin

    Somehow these figures seem to contradict your claims of Stanford supremacy in VC, don’t they?

  36. Stanford biz school is half the size of Harvard but still raised more on a per capita basis.
    Stanford undergrad and Harvard undergrad have equivalent class sizes and Stanford clearly dominates
    Stanford’s undergrad class is now larger than Harvard’s and will be 2300 so the gap will widen.

  37. wonder why Harvard is building an engineering school.. and other Ivies are building tech campuses.. to catch up to Stanford… it’s obvious. follow the leader

  38. Harvard MBAs VC capital raised $6.746 billion
    Stanford MBAs VC capital raised $4.077 billion

    Harvard bachelors VC capital raised $4.955 billion
    Stanford bachelors VC capital raised $5.896 billion

    Total Harvard VC capital raised = $11.7 billion
    Total Stanford VC capital raised = $9.973 billion

  39. It does look like more Stanford people are jumping on the bandwagon than other schools but they are not as successful at the individual level as Harvard or MIT grads. Looking at this table, my conclusion is that Stanford is hardly dominant in producing VC entrepreneurs when compared to other top schools. Just a glance at the table shows Stanford produces a tiny fraction of the total. So much for the “startup capital of the world” LOL Maybe you should bring up your favorite low acceptance rate thing again although that argument also takes a hefty dose of exaggeration.

  40. It looks like Harvard and MIT grads are the best in raising money. Probably they have the most promising ideas.

    Harvard $4,955 million /404 entrepreneurs = $12.3 million per person
    MIT $4,555 million/435 entrepreneurs = $10.5 million per person
    Stanford $5,896 million/561 entrepreneurs = $10.5 million per person
    Cornell $3,220 million/323 entrepreneurs = $10.0 million per person
    Berkeley $4,107 million/536 entrepreneurs = $7.7 million per person
    U Penn $3,047 million/393 entrepreneurs = $7.8 million per person

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