Investment is another key metric in startup success. While many new enterprises abide by the Lean Startup methodology, which calls for bare-bones businesses that adapt to customer feedback, they still need funding, according to Tom Eisenmann, who co-chairs Harvard’s Arthur Rock Center for Entrepreneurship. “The whole premise of lean is once you’ve got validation, you’ve proved you’ve got a business model that works, a customer value proposition that works, then you scale. And for many, if not most, of these businesses, scaling is still expensive,” he says.
As for Harvard’s successful showing on Poets&Quants‘ ranking, Eisenmann ticks off a variety of factors: “It’s courses, it’s the entrepreneurship center, it’s the ecosystem, it’s role models, it’s admissions—it’s a whole bunch of things,” he says. In particular, student entrepreneurs at the school have unparalleled access to funding sources. “It’s pretty straightforward: If you’re working on a business and you can push it far enough while you’re in the MBA program, you’re in a place where you’re rarely more than a phone call or an email away from somebody in several VC firms,” he adds.
Interestingly, Stanford’s startups raised a whopping $980.91 million—nearly twice as much as Harvard’s funding figure. Stanford’s close proximity to Sand Hill Road, a strip saturated with venture capital companies in Menlo Park, CA, no doubt contributes to this sum. The school’s emphasis on interdisciplinary startups certainly helps, too. By grouping MBAs with engineering, education, and computer science students, the B-school cultivates an atmosphere ripe for collaborative businesses.
Consider Skybox. Stanford MBA John Fenwick joined forces with two Stanford aerospace engineers and a master’s student in management science and engineering to found the satellite imaging company. To date, they’ve raised some $91 million.
Even the best B-schools can only go so far. The ultimate success or early demise of a startup depends largely on the MBA founder behind it. But certain schools are certainly better at inspiring entrepreneurs, putting them in touch with eager investors, and guiding them through avoidable pitfalls. Entrepreneurial MBA applicants would do well to consider these 20 schools with a successful track record in startups.
(See next page for our table of the top 20 B-schools for entrepreneurship)