Many argue the value of a college education for aspiring entrepreneurs. The fact that some of history’s most successful startups – IBM, Apple, Facebook – were all founded by college dropouts is enough to spark that debate.
But a new list from PitchBook shows that a college education isn’t always a hindrance to launching a high-growth company, especially if you attend Stanford University. The California-based private college has once again topped PitchBook’s Top Universities for VC-backed Entrepreneurs. The research firm reviewed its venture-capital database of more than 13,000 founders and ranked each school by the number of graduates who went on to launch venture-backed companies over five years ending August 2014. It also calculated the total number of startups founded by a college’s alumni and total capital raised from each institution.
Stanford alumni led the pack with 378 founders. PitchBook counts a total of 309 companies originating from Stanford grads, all raising a total of $3.5 billion in venture capital.
Another Bay Area school, the University of California, Berkeley, came in second, while four east coast colleges took four of the top seven spots: MIT, Harvard, the University of Pennsylvania and Cornell. It’s worth noting that the first non-U.S. school to make the top-seven list was the Indian Institute of Technology, which climbed from number 10 in last year’s ranking. Two Israeli schools, Tel Aviv University and Technion-Machon Technologi Le’ Israel, are also in the top 20.
There are many factors that contribute to this success: curriculum, location, entrepreneurship programs, etc. But the most important factor is the community or networks that graduates can access, according to Andy White, research analyst at PitchBook Data.
“When students are able to tap into a network of similarly driven individuals -- students, faculty and alumni -- they are given an opportunity to leverage support of that network," White says. "It is a perpetual cycle, which is driven by the common connection to one’s alma mater.”
When it comes to top-performing business schools handing diplomas to future founders, Harvard MBAs led the way, followed by Stanford, University of Pennsylvania, MIT and Northwestern.
For now, check out the top 50 undergraduate colleges churning out VC-backed entrepreneurs and innovators. How did your school stack up?
Plus: Check out more venture-capital rankings from our VC 100 page: