Poets&Quants’ Top MBA Startups Of 2018

Students at the Stanford GSB Class of 2017 commencement. Photo by Nathan Allen

Stanford GSB and Harvard Business School again account for more than half the startups to make this year’s list at 53 combined firms out of the 100, up from 48 last year. But while last year was a dead tie with 24 from each school, the GSB inched past Harvard Business School with 27 startups to Harvard’s 26. The GSB companies amassed slightly more than $858 million in funding. Harvard Business School-founded ventures totaled more than $543 million. Wharton claims the third-highest total to make the list with nine startups generating a combined $106 million in finding. Chicago Booth surged this year, placing eight ventures on the list, a group of companies that have raised a combined $240 million. Columbia Business School and Northwestern’s Kellogg School both placed seven ventures on the list, but Columbia’s startups combined for more than $97 million while Kellogg’s totaled just over $55 million.

No matter where the MBAs come, more of them are heading to VC-rich California to set up shop than any other state or region in the world. Of the top 100, 42 are based in California, accounting for about $1.12 billion combined VC-backing. After California, New York claims the second-most startups on the list with 18, attracting more than $334 million in funding. Massachusetts follows with 12 ventures raising nearly $305 million. Illinois is next with six ventures combining for $45.6 million. All but 14 of the ventures are based in the U.S. Outside of the U.S., Singapore stakes claim to the most ventures on the list with three startups totaling nearly $207 million in funding.

While the amount of successful ventures being founded at business schools right now is impressive, the truth is the vast majority of startups fail. “So many startups fail and we don’t want people to not be ready for that reality,” Wharton’s Leinweber admits. Schools are pouring resources into attempting to prevent that, but the reality is running a company is tough and there’s a lot of pressure not just from your own employees, but also customers who could depend on the product. Baron knows the pressure.

“We’re not a flash in the pan startup,” he says. “That’s really important for farmers. Farmers want to work with a few partners for a very long time. They don’t want to work with dozens of companies that are going in and out of business every few years.”

See the following pages for the Poets&Quants’ Top MBA Startups of 2018. We believe the most objective indicator of a startup’s potential is the amount of confidence angels and VC firms invest in the idea. The following list is based solely on the amount of VC-backed capital each startup has publicly announced since launching. To capture the most recent five-year window of startups coming out of MBA programs, the ventures must have a founding date between January 1, 2013 and December 31, 2017. Each startup must also have a founding member that graduated with an MBA during the same time. 

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