Harvard Vs. Stanford: The Entrepreneurial Battle Of Goliaths


Shikhar Ghosh at Harvard Business School

Not to be totally topped in their entrepreneurial options, Shikhar Ghosh, the faculty co-chair at the Rock Center for Entrepreneurship at HBS, points out that an entrepreneurship component is included in every core course in the full-time MBA program at Harvard. Ghosh also notes that 25% of the full-time MBA electives at HBS have an entrepreneurship and innovation focus.

Ghosh maintains that there is much more to measuring a school’s entrepreneurial chops than recent ventures that have raised beaucoup venture capital bucks. “It’s not one of the metrics we look at,” Ghosh maintains. “From the metrics we look at, things look pretty healthy.”

According to Ghosh, HBS is just as interested in looking at the volume of founders that graduate from the full-time MBA program. He points out that about 50% of all Harvard MBAs will start at least one venture within 15 years of graduation. What’s more, he adds, 17% of Harvard’s latest graduating MBA class now are immediately involved in a startup after graduation, with 8% having launched their own startups while another 9% having joined an existing startup,


“Most of the really big companies get founded in the VC model, so that becomes an important statistic. But it’s only one color in the mosaic,” Ghosh adds.

Ghosh has a point. Over the past seven years that P&Q has been tracking the data, HBS has had 482 students report their primary job after graduation was a founder or co-founder. On the other hand, Stanford GSB had 414 graduates make the same claim during the equivalent timeframe from a considerably smaller MBA program. Whereas the percentage of graduates starting companies immediately after graduation at Harvard has fluctuated between 7% and 9% over the past seven years, the startup rates at Stanford have been between 13% to 18%.

“If you look at the distribution of our alumni — our entrepreneurial alumni — they spread all over the country,” Ghosh says. “Whereas if you take a school like Stanford, it’s really centered in Northern California and in the VC model. I think that we are a broader school, and we are careful to not equate venture capital with entrepreneurship. Venture capital is a really small fraction of entrepreneurship and the impact it makes on the country.”