Startup University: The Colleges that Produce Successful Startup Founders

Stanford QuadAcross the nation, colleges attract potential students based on their reputations for excellence in particular areas. A student hoping to become a doctor, for example, might apply to Johns Hopkins University because of its acclaimed medical school. Today, students can also select a college or university that will give them the best odds of establishing a successful startup.

According to a recent CrunchBase report, Stanford University produces the most funded startup founders of any college or university in America; in fact, in 2016 alone, my alma mater had over 225 students or alumni receive funding for their startup. MIT came in as a distant second place, with 145 students or alumni receiving funding, followed by other prestigious universities like Harvard and the University of California, Berkeley.

That pattern remains the same even when evaluating the university affiliation of startups which have large capital raises. When the report reviewed startups that had raised at least $10 million since 2012, Stanford once again took the lead, with 420 startups in this category with university affiliated founders, trailed by MIT, Harvard, and UC Berkeley.

All of these schools are some of the most prestigious in the nation, so it’s not really a surprise that so many funded startups have their roots in such centers of talent and ambition. However, there are factors that give Stanford an edge. Geography certainly plays a role: The university is close to Silicon Valley, the startup capital of the nation, so students have professional networks, opportunities, and a climate of innovation in their backyard.

Stanford also has a long legacy of success in the tech industry, and its alumni have gone on to establish companies like Hewlett Packard, Sun Microsystems, Google, and many others.

These universities also have their own startup accelerators. Students or alumni can apply to their university’s startup accelerator, and if accepted, they have access to a huge professional network and mentors as well as funding and support to help them grow their startup. While many startup accelerators or incubators take equity from their members, the accelerators from Stanford, MIT, Harvard, and UC Berkeley do not, so their members have access to resources without having to sacrifice their stake in their startups.

While this news is certainly cause for celebration for Stanford and the other school leading the pack in funded startup founders, it’s also a call to arms to every other college and university in America. The CrunchBase report sends a message that what Stanford is doing works, so other institutions of higher learning should take notice. Replicating, strengthening and building on Stanford’s model can help turn every college campus in the nation into a breeding ground for successful startups.

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