For the vast majority of people, college serves as a stepping stone to a plethora of career and educational opportunities after graduation. A well-paying job, lifelong friendships, and an opportunity that comes along only once in a lifetime. No matter what year of study you are in, college is the starting point for aspiring startup founders who want to take their idea from conception to a minimum viable product and then to a round of venture capital funding.
If you’re a budding startup founder, we’ve compiled a list of the top schools that help current and former students grow and succeed in their ventures through their programs and resources, below.
This may come as no surprise, but Stanford University is the top choice for startup founders. Aside from having a deep network within the startup realm, Stanford has dozens of organizations that focus on various aspects of entrepreneurship. There is, for example, the Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, the Stanford Center for Legal Informatics, the Association of Industry-Minded Stanford Professionals, and numerous others.
University of California, Berkeley
Another west-coast school making our list is the University of California Berkeley. Its business incubator is fantastic, with significant funding opportunities for the companies it incubates. According to Forbes, the college has produced the second-highest number of venture capital-backed startups of any college. Furthermore, CollegeChoice ranks it as the second-best college for aspiring entrepreneurs. There are numerous opportunities for student entrepreneurs at the University of California, Berkeley which include six startup incubators.
Up to $100,000 is available from the Berkeley SkyDeck fund for companies accepted into the six-month cohort program. At the end of three months, the recipients will receive $50,000 via a SAFE note, with no discount. With a $2 million cap, the incubator will also invest up to 10% in the first round of funding. The money can be used for a wide variety of business operations, including hiring public relations and marketing.
The University of Texas at Austin
As the saying goes, “everything is bigger in Texas,” and UT Austin’s support for aspiring entrepreneurs is no exception. Longhorn Startup, an interdisciplinary enterprise program, the Austin Technology Incubator for deep tech, the IC2 Institute, and the Herb Kelleher Center for Entrepreneurship are just a few examples. The University of Texas at Austin is ranked the 9th best college for entrepreneurs by PitchBook. According to Forbes, the University of Texas system as a whole has produced the ninth most venture capital-backed startups.
University of Michigan
“Go Blue!” The University of Michigan made our list for its Innovate Blue program, which unifies the innovation and entrepreneurship community through various programs. In 2021, PitchBook ranked them 7th overall for its undergraduate programs by the number of venture capital-backed founders among their alumni who raised $26.7 billion in capital.
It doesn’t seem right to leave out Harvard University from our list. Harvard, in addition to being one of the most prestigious Ivy League universities, was ranked 2nd by Pitchbook for undergrad programs for female founders. W, with $6.4 billion in capital raised by its female founders.
Current Harvard students can participate in the Venture Incubation Program with the help of mentors and resources from Harvard’s Innovation Lab fund. In addition, the President’s Innovation Challenge is held at Harvard’s Innovation Lab, where students can compete for up to $75,000 in funding for their innovative ideas. Similarly, the Harvard Alumni Incubator, Launch Lab X, grants $100,000 to former Harvard students and alumni.
There are numerous resources available to help you get started on the path to becoming a startup founder, regardless of where you are in your academic career. Taking into account both the colleges’ and your own aspirations can help you make a well-informed decision about where to start or accelerate your startup journey.
About Kennedy Nunez: Kennedy is a Business Development Associate for Swyft, which is a tech PR firm in Austin and Houston and a top digital marketing and PR agency in Denver since its founding in 2011. Swyft also has a small satellite office where it offers tech PR in San Francisco. Swyft has been listed as one of the top tech PR agencies in Texas for two years running by the B2B services review site, Clutch.co.