Diversity Education tech Startups Venture

Where Funded BIPOC Startup CEOs Went To School

Illustration of Black Founders looking at startup rocket

Whatever one’s race, ethnicity, or gender, if the goal is leading a venture-backed American startup, attending Stanford, Harvard or MIT seems to greatly increase the odds of success.

Subscribe to the Crunchbase Daily

This is the oft-repeated conclusion of an ongoing series of Crunchbase data dives looking at the most popular colleges and universities among startup founders and CEOs. Earlier this month, we looked at top schools for female founders. In earlier pieces, we’ve looked at all founders, as well as CTOs and CEOs.

For this latest endeavor, we focused on CEOs of American startups who identify as racial or ethnic minorities, a group categorized under the acronym BIPOC. It was a comparatively small dataset–with just 687 BIPOC chief executives of companies funded in the past two years, per Crunchbase data. And of those, many did not have a university affiliation in their profile.

The small sample size nonetheless broadly reflected the same trends we’ve seen in prior analyses. That is, the most common schools for BIPOC CEOs are the nation’s most prestigious and selective research universities. Think Ivy Leagues, elite West Coast schools, and big public and private research institutions.

Below we chart out top schools by number of funded BIPOC CEO graduates:

There were a few notable distinctions between this list and previous research we’ve done around startup leaders and universities. One is that for the BIPOC cohort, the University of Pennsylvania (Penn) edged out Harvard. Another is that University of California at Berkeley ranked higher than MIT, which has not been the case for previous groups we’ve analyzed.

Given that the BIPOC analysis featured a smallish sample size, it’s probably best not to make too much of these distinctions. There is an element of randomness, and with few CEOs on the list, a small number of graduates can shift the rankings rather dramatically.

Business school rankings

We also did a ranking looking specifically at business schools, shown below:


Looking at the business school list, it’s easy to see why Penn topped Harvard. Penn’s Wharton School of Business had at least 25 funded BIPOC CEO graduates, compared to 16 from Harvard Business School.

In third place is Stanford Graduate School of Business, which with an enrollment of just around 850 students is the smallest of the top three. Wharton, which has both undergraduate and MBA programs, is the largest of the top three, followed by Harvard Business School.

Naming some names

Our research also provided university affiliations for some prominent BIPOC CEOs who have raised funding in the past couple of years. Here are a few names, followed by their companies and universities:

Henrique Dubugras, co-founder and CEO of Brex, Stanford

Robert Reffkin, co-founder and CEO of Compass, Columbia University, Columbia Business School

Vishal Garg, founder and CEO of Better.com, NYU Stern School of Business

Tope Awotona, founder and CEO of Calendly, University of Georgia

Luis von Ahn, founder and CEO of Duolingo, Carnegie Mellon

Aicha Evans, CEO of Zoox, George Washington University

Charley Moore, founder and CEO of Rocket Lawyer, UC Berkeley


The dataset focused on CEOs whose organizations last raised funding sometime in the past two years. We focused exclusively on American universities and companies. Our query included all types of funding for this query, not just venture funding, and did not include a minimum funding amount. The overwhelming majority of companies on the list are private, but it does include some companies that raised private funding in the past two years but have since gone public.

Illustration: Dom Guzman

Stay up to date with recent funding rounds, acquisitions, and more with the Crunchbase Daily.

Copy link