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24 September 2013

Which universities produce the most successful start-up founders?

Do the tech universities produce more funded graduates than the Ivy League universities? Do the founders from Ivy League universities receive more funding than those from the top-tier tech universities?

Author: Max Woolf, blogger

If you read start-up funding announcements on tech blogs frequently, you may have noticed that these start-up founders have often attended prestigious universities. Founders who have graduated from Ivy League schools in the US, such as Harvard, Yale and Princeton, unsurprisingly raise millions for their start-ups. Of course, top-tier tech schools such as Stanford, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Carnegie Mellon foster a strong technical and entrepreneurial background: attributes which venture capitalists seek when investing in a start-up founder. (Disclosure: Max Woolf, blogger, is a Carnegie Mellon alumnus.)

Do the tech universities produce more funded graduates than the Ivy League universities? Do the founders from Ivy League universities receive more funding than those from the top-tier tech universities?

Using TechCrunch’s CrunchBase application programming interface (API), I obtained the data of about 2,500 company founders in the US who have created a start-up that has received investment from venture capitalists.

With that data, I found some rather interesting trends - see chart here.

Here are the top 16 universities with the most number of successfully-funded graduates:

Stanford has the highest number of funded graduates, which is unsurprising as it’s located in the Silicon Valley, heart of venture capital.

Seven out of the eight Ivy League universities (colored green on the chart) are present, but most of the Ivies are in the middle of the chart. MIT and University of California Berkeley each have nearly double the amount of successful graduates from Yale and Columbia.

It’s worth noting that Tel Aviv University, an Israel-based university, ties Duke University at 21.

Which university’s graduates have cumulatively raised the most amount of total funding?

Another way to measure success is through the success of the founders’ subsequent start-ups and the amount of venture capital they have raised.

Here are the top eight universities whose graduates have received the most amount of funding:

Harvard and Stanford graduates are very close in terms of total funding raised. However, there’s a clear Power Law in effect, as those two along with UC Berkeley, have produced founders who have generated much, much more venture funding than those of the other universities.

Which university’s graduates raise the most amount of money in their first round of funding on average?

Start-up founders with big, world changing ideas need lots of venture capital. Only the founders with good ideas will actually receive it.

Here are the average amount of first-round funding for the top 16 universities with the most number of successfully-funded graduates:

Carnegie Mellon and Princeton, which had a relatively low number of funded founders and a relatively low number of total capital raised, instead have a significantly higher amount of average first funding. University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) also placed. Perhaps the students from these three universities tend to have more ambitious start-up ideas?

At first glance, Stanford and Harvard appear to be the kings of start-ups. They have the most amount of graduates, and the most amount of total venture capital raised. The tech blogs would surely consider that a success, but could the greater funding for CMU/Princeton lead to the creation of the next billion-dollar start-up? We can only wait and see.

UPDATE: As pointed out by robotcookies on the corresponding Hacker News thread, I missed UCLA in the first draft, which had 29 funded graduates. The charts have been updated.

UPDATE 2: Here's the chart (using the undergraduate numbers from Wikipedia). Nothing too revolutionary, although a few of the Ivy League schools are higher.


You are welcome to use the founder data from CrunchBase by viewing the data on Google Drive, or bydownloading the raw CSV.

Notes:

  • University data was standardized to make analysis easier (e.g. for Carnegie Mellon, the founders who listed their institution as “Carnegie Mellon University”, “Carnegie Mellon,” and “CMU,” all had their institution changed to be “CMU”.)
  • Chart #1 measures unique founders, so it does not double-count a founder who has founded more than one funded start-up.
  • Chart #2 assumes equal contribution of each founder to the funding: if a startup has a total funding of $100,000 with 2 founders, the amount used for the chart will be $50,000 for each founder.
  • Chart #3 ignores startup data for the chart which has a series B, series C, or series D listed as their first round on CrunchBase, or if the amount raised was not provided.

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