Poets&Quants’ 2016 Top 100 MBA Startups

Ian Shakil, Stanford MBA and co- founder and CEO of Augmedix

Ian Shakil, Stanford MBA and co- founder and CEO of Augmedix


Other founders, such as 31-year-old Ian Shakil of Augmedix, have jumped on new products and created markets. A few months after graduating from Stanford, which he calls a “cauldron of entrepreneurship,” in 2012, Shakil experienced a serendipitous moment in an unlikely place. According to Shakil, a “Googler” passed around a prototype of a confidential product called the Google Glass. “He said, ‘I’m not supposed to have it out in the wild, but here it is,'” Shakil recalls.

He became immediately enamored. “I kept thinking, this product certainly doesn’t need to be in the hands of consumers yet, but it does need to be in the hands of doctors. And I knew exactly how to do it. And there’s no better time to do it than right now. When you’re right out of business school and the world is eager to forgive you if you take big risks.”

Shakil recruited Pelu Tran, a medical student at Stanford who put his studies on hold, to co-found Augmedix. The first Google Glass startup, it allows physicians to populate and retrieve patient information from electronic health records by voice command. The efficiencies, Augmedix claims, provide physicians with an extra 15 hours a week in time. The company’s $23 million in venture backing places them 26th on our list.


Once again, the two schools that completely dominate the list are Harvard Business School and the Stanford Graduate School of Business. MBAs from this pair of B-school giants can stake claim to 15 of the Top 20 startups. On the surface, the two schools are in entirely different worlds. Their campuses rest more than 3,000 miles apart. While Harvard is blanketed in snow, palms wave in the temperate Bay Area. The GSB enrolls about 400 MBAs each year and Harvard routinely enrolls about 900. Still, the two business schools continually produce far more venture capital-backed startups than any other school across the world.

This year, HBS had 42 startups among the Top 100, up from 40 last year, and the most ever by one school in the three-year history of the rankings. Meantime, Stanford MBAs were behind 23 of this year’s ventures, down from 31 last year. They also boast numerous ventures at the apex of the list.  The first venture not started on a Harvard or Stanford campus was Grofers, which was founded by Albinder Dhindsa, a Columbia Business School MBA. Grofers is in eighth place with $165.5 million raised. Harvard’s ventures on the list combined to raise nearly $2 billion. Stanford’s enterprises reaped more than $2.5 billion, largely thanks to the success of SoFi.

All told, the top 100 startups to make the list raised nearly $5.2 billion, compared to $4.9 billion last year. The money raised by SoFi and Grabtaxi would have allowed them to top the previous two rankings as well. At the same time, those two race horses seem to be stringing out the pack as the Top 100 cutoff fell from just over $6 million last year down to $2.65 million this year–a sure sign that the bubble is deflating.

Vince Ponzo is the senior director at the Eugene Lang Entrepreneurship Center at Columbia Business School. Courtesy photo

Vince Ponzo is the senior director at the Eugene Lang Entrepreneurship Center at Columbia Business School. Courtesy photo


By almost all accounts, however, many of these companies have raised their cash in a “frothy” climate. “I think there are more people investing in startups than ever before,” says says Vincent Ponzo, the senior director of the Eugene Lang Entrepreneurship Center at Columbia Business School. The availability of seed capital in the past five years has led many to enter MBA programs with the intent of using the experience as an incubator. “The students coming to business schools are coming with the idea and intention to becoming entrepreneurs,” adds Ponzo. “Because of that, we’re seeing more creative and innovative businesses.”

For the past three years, Poets&Quants has set out to identify those creative and innovative early stage ventures and rank those that garner the most venture capital backing. In addition to a published casting call on our site, we spent months working with the very best business schools from around the globe to identify MBA-founded startups that have raise the most venture capital cash. To quality, each founding team had to have at least one MBA and the company had to to make its debut in the past five years, from 2010 to 2015.

Still, angel investors and venture capitalists are in a unique position to judge the quality of a new idea, the leadership team behind it, and a company’s future prospects. They are making intelligent bets on the best in the context of a wide range of investment opportunities. And while it may be helpful to judge a company’s progress based on its revenue and profits, those core numbers are hard to come by in private companies. So how much money a startup can raise is a strong barometer of its likely success.

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