Harvard, Wharton Startups Beat Stanford In VC Funding

Startup Garage

Startups by Harvard Business School and Wharton MBA graduates raised more venture capital in the past five years than those by Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business, according to a newly published survey of VC-funding. But the biggest gap in startup funding between HBS and Stanford largely occurred in the money raised by Harvard women.

In the past five years, $1.2 billion of venture capital funding backed companies started by female MBAs from Harvard, nearly seven times the $234 million raised by women with MBAs from Stanford. The amount of money going to companies founded by women with Wharton MBAs also put Wharton ahead of Stanford in overall funding. Female entrepreneurs with Wharton MBAs received $437 million in VC funding, almost double the Stanford amount. Women played a crucial role in allowing Northwestern’s Kellogg School to beat Chicago Booth as well. Female MBAs from Kellogg raised more than eight times the VC funding as their Booth counterparts, $134 million vs. a mere $16 million, respectively.

The data comes from a new study of VC funding by Pitchbook, a venture capital and private equity research firm. The firm tracked numbers from the start of 2010 through the end of July 2015, drawing from its venture capital database of more than 25,000 valuations and over 78,000 VC-backed companies. This is the third year in a row that Pitchbook has produced these lists, for both MBA programs and undergraduate universities. The firm lists the top 25 schools in rank order by the number of MBA founding entrepreneurs from each school receiving venture capital money.


Aside from bragging rights, the list shows which schools’ MBAs are succeeding in raising capital for their ideas and companies from venture capitalists. Business schools have substantially increased their investment in entrepreneurship in recent years as student demand for these courses has exploded. The University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, for example, has doubled down on its investment in entrepreneurship in the past five years, while Chicago rival Kellogg has set a goal of being in the top three of all business schools in entrepreneurship. Booth now says that entrepreneurship is its most popular MBA concentration, nudging aside finance in the past year.

So far, it seems like the Big Three are winning the race–at least when it comes to venture capital money. Overall, Harvard Business School topped the funding list, with 497 startups that raised a total of $6.746 billion in venture capital money. Wharton MBAs slightly edged out Stanford, raising $4.084 billion versus $4.077 billion. Wharton’s VC funding total, moreover, was spread over fewer companies, 285, compared to 341 at Stanford.

Of course, Harvard and Wharton both graduate substantially more MBAs every year than Stanford. Harvard typically sends out more than 900 MBAs annually, while Wharton produces more than 850. Stanford, on the other hand, graduates less than half that number, just over 400 MBAs a year. If not for the fact that a significantly higher percentage of Stanford MBAs start companies (17%), compared to Harvard (8%) or Wharton (7%), those class size differences could very well account for the reasons why HBS and Wharton outdo the geographic advantages of Stanford being in the middle of Silicon Valley and the VC firms on Sand Hill Rd. But once you apply those percentages to the graduating classes, HBS typically produces about 74 entrepreneurs a year while Stanford puts out 70–not much of a difference.

Only 11 business schools on Pitchbook’s top 25 list boasted MBA graduates who had raised more than $1 billion, and just two of those schools were outside the U.S.: INSEAD and Tel Aviv University. After Harvard, Wharton and Stanford, MIT Sloan and Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management rounded out the top five, with MIT grads attracting nearly $3.4 billion in VC money while Kellogg MBAs raised $2.3 billion (see table below).