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Pandemic Didn’t Alter Dominance Of Stanford, Harvard Or MIT For Funded Founders

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The pandemic changed many things about how Americans build and fund startups, from the rise of remote teams to the willingness of investors to back companies located far from the home office.

One thing that hasn’t changed, however, is the dominance of three universities — Stanford, Harvard and MIT — in churning out founders of funded companies.

Per Crunchbase data, roughly a quarter of U.S. seed or pre-seed investment 1 in the past three years went to companies founded by alumni of one of those schools. Stanford produced the highest number, followed by Harvard, then MIT.

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Overall, it’s a disproportionately large haul considering these universities account for no more than half a percent of American university graduates in a typical year.

For a sense of how these schools’ alums fare in securing investment, we’ve charted seed and pre-seed funding rounds to startups they’ve founded below. The tally covers three years, beginning in April 2020, the early days of the pandemic.

In case you were wondering, the fundraising prowess of founders who graduated from one of these three schools is actually a bit stronger at Series A. As illustrated below, their companies secured just over a quarter of total funding in the same period:

Does it matter if you went somewhere else?

The stats boost the notion that, if you are an undergrad or grad-school applicant with interest in founding a startup, going to Harvard, Stanford or MIT seems like a good idea. Grads from these schools clearly outperform their peers in building fundable companies.

However, reality is the overwhelming majority of us, wannabe founders included, will not attend one of these three universities. That begs the question: Does that put us at a big disadvantage in the startup game?

Not necessarily. As we’ve seen in previous data dives into the intersection of education and startup funding, top-ranked public universities and prestigious private ones also do pretty well in graduating founders of funded companies.

Among public universities, UC Berkeley has been the strongest performer by far in prior samples. Graduates of prominent business schools, such as University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business, also rank high.

Besides attending a prestigious school, it apparently helps to be located in or near a major startup hub. It’s likely no coincidence, for instance, that our top-ranked public school, UC Berkeley, is in the venture capital-rich San Francisco Bay Area.

Related Crunchbase Pro query

Illustration: Dom Guzman

  1. Query was limited to companies that raised $100,000 or more in seed or pre-seed funding.

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