Poets&Quants’ Top MBA Startups Of 2021

The Tomorrow.io team. From left to right, Rei Goffer, Shimon Elkabetz, Itai Zlotnik. Courtesy photo

This year’s total funding among all 100 startups was $2.692 billion. That’s the second-lowest total since 2015, inevitably slowed in the past year due to the pandemic. The only lower total was in 2018, when P&Q‘s 100 startups combined for $2.455 billion in funding. The highest amount came in 2016, when the top 100 racked up a combined $5.180 billion in funding.

The 2021 total represents a three-year decreasing trend. After 2018, the total funding amount raised by the top MBA startups jumped to nearly $3.173 billion in 2019; that dropped slightly to just under $3.020 billion in 2020.

The decline comes mainly from the top. While Divvy’s total funding amount of $299.05 million is more than last year’s leader, Guild Education — which at the time had raised $228.50 million — last year saw seven startups raising at least $100 million in funding. This year that number dipped to five startups. In 2019, Branch Metrics led with $242.10 million, but Plenty and Rivigo each had raised more than $200 million. Another six startups that year raised $100 million or more, bringing the total number of startups to raise at least $100 million to nine for that year.

This year, Stanford alone can claim association with startups that raised more than $1 billion — $1.431 billion, in fact, slightly more than the $1.4 billion raised by the 34 Stanford GSB-founded startups on last year’s list. Harvard Business School startups on this year’s list combined to raise $449.05 million, down from $469.85 million raised last year. Columbia Business School startups raised a total of $116.9 million this year, led by pet-wellness company Ollie, founded by Gabby Slome and Alexandre Douzet. UC Berkeley’s Haas-founded ventures raised $115.44 million, edging out the five Wharton-founded startups, which raised $115 million. INSEAD-founded companies had the next highest combined funding total, at $73.10 million.

Over the past seven graduating classes (2014 to 2020), Harvard Business School has had 526 MBA graduates report they’re starting their own companies within three months of graduation, according to the school’s employment reports. That’s more than any other school that we’ve been tracking over the past seven years. Up next is Stanford’s Graduate School of Business, which has had 455 MBAs report launching startups immediately after graduation between 2014 and 2020. Wharton graduates follow the GSB with 279 reporting launching companies immediately after graduation. CBS follows with 165 and MIT Sloan rounds out the top-five at 151. Of course, it should be noted schools like HBS, Wharton, and CBS graduate hundreds more MBAs each year compared to schools like Stanford and MIT.

2020 was a wild year for graduating MBAs as they were graduating into a market impacted by the beginnings of an economic downturn sparked by the Covid-19 pandemic. This led to some interesting outcomes on the number of students electing to launch companies immediately after graduation at the seven MBA programs we’ve been tracking since 2014. The number of MBAs starting companies immediately after graduation dropped at Wharton, Columbia, Chicago Booth, MIT Sloan, and Northwestern Kellogg in 2020 compared to 2019; but the numbers increased at Stanford and Harvard. At HBS, the number of founders surged from 65 in 2019 to 105 in 2020, the latter figure representing more than 11% of Harvard’s graduating class of MBAs, and higher number than than any other class in recent history. Stanford’s 71 founders was also a jump from last year’s 62, and the highest raw number of founders since at least 2014.

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