So you want to be an entrepreneur, do you? Think you can defy the odds? Strike it rich? Muscle your way into the company of Branson, Zuckerberg, and Schultz, huh?
You have guts, I’ll give you that. But that’s only one ingredient. To turn a startup into a business, you need connections, financial acumen, persuasiveness, and energy. And the process of reinventing and redeploying never ends. Every day, you’ll wrestle with the uncertain and unexpected. If you lack self-awareness, your flaws will be amplified as expectations and pressures grow. There are no shortcuts or secret formulas to success, just perseverance and commitment.
That probably sounds like heresy to the laptop-and-a-hoodie crowd. Some even dismiss college as a waste. Make no mistake: Polished 19 year-old wunderkinds are as common on campus as tall wideouts with soft hands and 4.3 speed. To become entrepreneurs, students need to immerse themselves in a like-minded community. According to Forbes, no school is a better hotbed for entrepreneurship than Stanford University.
For the second year in a row, Stanford ranked #1 on Forbes’ “most entrepreneurial universities list.” The ranking was based on entrepreneurial ratios, “the number of alumni and students who have identified themselves as founders and business owners on LinkedIn against the school’s total student body (undergraduate and graduate combined).”
Alas, Forbes doesn’t share any underlying data to compare schools – and the methodology doesn’t account for entrepreneurs who moved into corporate, academic, or government work. However, it does afford a metric to identify schools with strong entrepreneurial DNA across the disciplines.
Take Stanford, for example. Alumni have founded and co-founded companies like Google, Nike, Cisco, Netflix, Match.com, Yahoo, PayPal, Linkedin, Instagram, and The Gap. While Stanford maintains one of the top undergraduate and graduate business programs, many Stanford entrepreneurs by-passed the business program altogether. Looking for examples? How about these familiar names: Google’s Larry Page (master’s in computer science), Netflix’s Reid Hastings (master’s in computer science), Linkedin’s Reid Hoffman (bachelor’s in cognitive science), PayPal’s Peter Thiel (bachelor’s in philosophy and juris doctor from Stanford Law), and Cisco’s Sandra Lerner (master’s in computer science).
If you think that’s an impressive list, check the names of students who dropped out of Stanford: Tesla Motors’ Elon Musk, Sun Microsystems’ Andy Bechtolsheim, and Snapchat’s Evan Spiegel. And did I mention a branding genius named Tiger Woods?
Ranked #2 on this year’s list, MIT alumni have launched companies like Hewlett Packard, Raytheon and Gillette. The school’s famed Deshpande Center for Technological Innovation has raised over $140 million dollars in financing for startups. For nearly 25 years, MIT’s $100K Entrepreneurship Competition has produced, according to Forbes’ estimates, “130 companies and 2,500 jobs.”