You don’t need an MBA degree to launch a business and raise capital. But plenty of business school graduates have founded startups that have raised millions of dollars in funding.
The school that tops a new Crunchbase ranking of business schools that have produced the most successful alumni-founded startups (defined as raising $1 million or more in the past year) is Harvard Business School — by a wide margin. The school has 124 funded startups setup by its alumni, according to Crunchbase, though as Harvard has larger class sizes than its peers, that is perhaps not so surprising. Stanford GSB, in the heart of entrepreneurial ecosystem Silicon Valley, and the Wharton School are in second and third places with 59 and 53 startups apiece.
Harvard tops a separate list of b-schools with alumni founders that have raised the most money, too. Harvard graduates have raised $6.7 billion for their startups over the past year, Crunchbase calculates.
However, some schools’ results are skewed by outsized funding rounds for just a handful of companies. Take, for example, Chicago’s Booth school of Business. A single company, southeast Asian ride-hailing app Grab, accounts for more than three-fourths of all of Chicago’s funding for alumni founded startups in the past year (Grab banked $2.5 billion in June). At Carnegie Mellon and the Baruch College, one company accounted for 50% or more of total funding.
Entrepreneurs often say that the grounding in business provided by an MBA program is beneficial to a startup. As is the growing ecosystem of support offered by business schools in response to more graduates launching companies. A recently-published survey by the Financial Times found that almost one-quarter of MBAs at 50 top business schools had created startups within three years of graduation. At Stanford GSB and MIT Sloan, more than one-third of MBAs had launched businesses.
There may be another benefit to launching a business at business school. As more MBAs found successful companies and raise funding, the network that is among the most valued parts of an MBA degree becomes more valuable. Joining a business school that has a wealth of successful entrepreneurs may provide contacts that come in handy when you need to call in a favour. As one adage has it, it’s not what you know, but who you know that often counts in business.