Grads from Harvard Business School (HBS) and Stanford Graduate School of Business—both part of the elite group of business schools known as the M7—launched a combined 87 startups after completing their degrees in 2023, according to data collected by software design and development firm, Symphony.
In total, Stanford grads founded 23 new companies, while students graduating from Harvard went on to launch a huge 64 startups. That’s alongside the traditionally popular MBA career paths of consulting, finance, and technology.
“All of the top US MBA programs have made large investments in entrepreneurship, whether that's the relatively new Tangen Hall at Wharton, the Lang Center at Columbia, or the Rock Center at HBS,” said David White, admissions consultant and founding partner at Menlo Coaching.
He added that MBAs can help entrepreneurs in several ways, including pitch competitions allowing students to win seed money and attract investors, gaining access to resources, and networking opportunities where founders can meet and recruit members of their cohort or university faculty members with relevant technical expertise.
“Business school professors often have incredible networks through their consulting work and can introduce you to potential clients and business partners,” he said.
Entrepreneurs from Stanford and Harvard launched companies within a range of industries. At Stanford, healthcare was more popular than any other sector. The number of Stanford startups in the healthcare sector increased by 100% between 2022 and 2023.
Artificial intelligence was the dominant sector for Harvard MBA entrepreneurs. AI has been the hot topic in 2023. Earlier this year Goldman Sachs predicted generative AI could replace up to 300 million jobs. Reports now indicate that MBA students are prioritizing it above all other study topics in the curriculum. Likewise business master’s students are increasingly showing interest in learning AI and analytics skills.
Beyond AI and healthcare, grads also showed interest in sustainability, with several climate tech startups founded by grads from both schools, according to Symphony.
Web3, formerly a hot topic for graduating students that includes decentralized technologies such as blockchain, fell in popularity with only four Web3 startups were founded across both graduating cohorts, Symphony revealed.