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The 16 Business Schools With The Most Billion-Dollar Startup Founders

University is a good place to launch a "unicorn" company

If you aspire to found a billion-dollar startup—so rare investors call them “unicorns”—business school is good bet.

Nearly 40 students from top business schools including Harvard Business School, Stanford Graduate School of Business and INSEAD of Europe went on to found private companies worth in excess of $1 billion, according to research from enterprise software company Sage. 

With 23 unicorn founders, Harvard is ahead of every other business school. Graduates of the Ivy League institution are behind successes such as Blue Apron, the meal delivery business, Oscar, a health insurance startup, and cyber security company CloudFlare. 

Stanford students founded 19 of the mythical businesses, including SoFi, a fintech venture that raised $500 million this week, with Wharton School at University of Pennsylvania in third with nine unicorn startups. 

The research comes as business schools, known for producing spreadsheet-heavy MBA graduates, boost their number of courses and support for entrepreneurs. Business schools have long faced criticism that they are out of touch with the startup community, with tuition fees of over $200,000 at top schools putting many entrepreneurs off obtaining graduate business degrees. 

Sam Hodges, a Stanford alum and the co-founder of fintech business Funding Circle USA, says: “If there’s anything I got from Stanford, it’s the little voice in my head that is reminding me to live up to being the better leader that I aspire to be.”

“The Stanford ecosystem in Silicon Valley, the seat of innovation, has been helpful. We share knowledge and learn from each other, and a number of our seed investors were Stanford alums,” he says. 

Below are the top business schools, ranked by number of unicorn founders. 


1. Harvard Business School

480

Unicorn Count: 23


2. Stanford Graduate School of Business

480

Unicorn Count: 19


3. Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania 

480

Unicorn Count: 9


4. INSEAD

480

Unicorn Count: 5


5. WHU: Otto Beisheim School of Management 

480

Unicorn Count: 5


6. USC: Marshall School of Business

480

Unicorn Count: 3


7. University of California, Berkeley: Haas

481

Unicorn Count: 3


8. Columbia Business School

480

Unicorn Count: 3


9. HEC Paris

480

Unicorn Count: 3


10. IIM: Calcutta

480

Unicorn Count: 3


11. UCLA Anderson School of Management

480

Unicorn Count: 2


12. Brigham Young University: Marriott

480

Unicorn Count: 2


13. George Washington University

479

Unicorn Count: 2


14. London Business School

480

Unicorn Count: 2


15. Northwestern University: Kellogg

480

Unicorn Count: 2


16. Illinois, Urbana-Champaign: College of Business

480

Unicorn Count: 2


 

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