After two years of pandemic disruption, in-person graduations are back. And for the next two weeks, millions of students will dress up for the speeches and celebrations that come with the completion of another important milestone.
For entrepreneurs, among others, it is also time to reflect on one of the great questions of higher education: Was it worth it? And does a prestigious title really give you an edge over the competition?
While the Crunchbase data can’t answer these specific questions, it does offer some insight into how a degree from a particular institution correlates with the likelihood of becoming a funded founder. It turns out that your probability of raising funds for a startup has a pretty strong correlation with the school you attended.
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So what are the best schools for funded founders? Well, if you’ve read one of our previous iterations on this topic, you might know that the findings don’t vary much from year to year. That is, Stanford, Harvard, and MIT are perennially at the top of the list. Outstanding and prestigious colleges and leading research universities round out the ranks.
This time, we are specifically targeting seed and early-stage funding recipients. Still, the results haven’t changed much. We look at the specific breakdown below, tabulating how many of our top school founders have raised $500,000 or more since the beginning of 2021.
We tabulate the business schools separately, listed below:
While many things have remained the same, we see some changes. With that in mind, here are some key takeaways about trends new and old:
Stanford still has it: We will start with a long-standing trend. Stanford, Silicon Valley’s preeminent university, still spawns more funded founders than anywhere else. At least 338 alumni have raised seed or seed funds since last year, not including the business school.
With Harvard and MIT, Boston has it too: MIT and Harvard, the two Boston institutions known for their competitive admissions and academic rigor, ranked second and third, respectively, in our university rankings. This is the same ranking we saw in our last data analysis over a year ago, which looked at both early and late stage funding.
Berkeley leads among public universities, UT makes a profit: The University of California, Berkeley, at No. 4, is also the only public university to make the top 10. Berkeley has ranked highly in funded surveys of founders in the past, so this latest finding is not a surprise, particularly given the school’s strength in science. , engineering, and technology-related fields.
Meanwhile, the University of Texas at Austin appears to be climbing the ranks among funded founders. Ranked 11th on our overall list, UT Austin was the second highest ranked public university. This rise is likely related in part to Austin’s rise as a hub for tech startup activity. Behind UT, the next highest-ranking public universities are the University of Michigan, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and UCLA.
Business school remains a popular path: We have seen several articles in recent months about declining applications to top business schools and a drop in the number of people taking the GMAT exam. But even if the popularity of an MBA is below peak levels, it’s still a fairly common credential among funded founders. As usual, the most competitive business schools top our rankings, with Harvard Business School leading the way, followed by Stanford Graduate School of Business and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.
In conclusion: A title is not destiny, but it does make a difference
Of course, as many have noted, no credentials are required to become a successful startup founder.
That said, if you’re looking to apply to college or graduate school and are drawn to the startup founder path, the data seems to indicate that it certainly wouldn’t hurt to try Stanford, Harvard, or MIT. Schools that are known for being difficult to get into generally seem to be fortuitous choices for would-be funded entrepreneurs.
However, the data certainly doesn’t indicate that any particular title, or any title, makes or breaks a person’s chances of success. If the history of innovation has taught us anything, it is that great entrepreneurs come from a wide range of geographies and educational backgrounds.
The list isn’t exhaustive, in part because many Crunchbase founder profiles don’t include a college affiliation. Additionally, some founders attended more than one listed university or business school and were counted twice.
Illustration: Li-Anne Dias
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