Why do so many startup founders come from Stanford University?
It’s often said that you don’t need a college education to be successful. Even the world’s richest person Elon Musk thinks people “don’t need college to learn stuff.” He went as far as saying that jobs at his companies should not require a degree.
In other cases, some say that you do not need a specific degree to become an entrepreneur. They opined that the knowledge you need to successfully run a business or startup company can be picked up through real-world work experience.
However, studies have shown that having a college education increases your chance of building a successful startup. For many entrepreneurs, having an education from one of the top universities in the United States may further boost your chances of success as a startup founder.
For example, two colleges have produced the most unicorn founders, and more than 60 unicorns are found within a 60-mile stretch. One of those colleges is Stanford University.
In 2019, we wrote a piece about why Stanford University produces the most successful startup founders. At the time, Stanford University was the most popular place for unicorn founders to have studied at – 63 of the world’s best entrepreneurs. Harvard finishes in second place with 39 graduating unicorn founders, and the Indian Institute of Technology comes in third with 36 founders.
Notable omissions from the top 10 include other American Ivy League schools like Yale University, Brown University, Princeton University, and the University of Pennsylvania, although many of these feature in the top 30. No European Universities also make the top 20, with LSE, Oxford, and Cambridge all coming in 25th.
Fast forward three years later, a new study found that Stanford is responsible for producing the highest number of startup founders in 2022, with 1,427 founders. While Stanford may be the top producer of startup founders, other universities have also produced successful startup founders and entrepreneurs.
The University of California, Berkeley comes in at a close second, with 1406 founders. And Harvard University rounds out the top three with 1184 founders. Other notable universities include the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1065 founders), the University of Pennsylvania (1035 founders), and Cornell University (826 founders):
The full story and statistics can be found here:
Below are the major highlights from the 2019 report:
- 93 unicorn founders have an MBA, 75 founders have an undergraduate in Computer Science, and 40 founders have graduated with a master’s in the same discipline. Other popular degrees among the most successful start-up entrepreneurs are economics, studied by 26 unicorn founders, and business administration, studied by 21.
- A total of 462 unicorn founders had an undergraduate degree, with 230 going on to study master’s of sorts. Although 32 people have PhDs from the world’s unicorns, 13 founders had not gone to University or had dropped out midway.
- The US produces the most unicorns with 115 companies originating from the states. Specifically, San Francisco has 37 unicorns, while 31 are located in Silicon Valley. The total value of the San Francisco unicorns amounts to $180 billion, with the 31 in Silicon Valley cumulatively being valued at $63.26 billion.
- China comes next, where 111 unicorns can be found in their country – 47 are situated in Beijing, and 20 in Shanghai.
- The average age of a founder when their start-up becomes a unicorn is 41.15. Between the age of 35 and 39, there are 136 founders, 65 between the age of 30 and 34, and 81 between the ages of 40 and 44.