Many colleges and business schools support a culture of innovation and creativity, but there are some schools that just seem to have startup juice pumping through their pipes. Graduating notable startup founders, offering lots of startup support, and encouraging innovation, these 10 colleges (listed in no particular order) have incredible cultures for young startups. Check out our picks for the most inspiring startup culture campuses, and let us know in the comments which schools you think have the best environment for new startups.
- Stanford University:
Stanford sets the gold standard in college startup culture, with a variety of impressive startup culture perks and alumni, including the StartX Student Startup Accelerator and alumni ranging from TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington to venture capitalist Guy Kawasaki. The university has been graduating tech giants for decades, including the founders of HP, Yahoo! and Google. In fact, The New Yorker dubbed Stanford “Get Rich U.” for its incredibly close connection to Silicon Valley. An amazing 16% of Stanford’s 2011 business school class went on to start their own companies at graduation, breaking the school’s 12% dot-com peak.
- Harvard University:
With 8% to 10% of students becoming entrepreneurs, Harvard University is far from lagging behind Stanford in pumping out startups, and the university certainly seems to be encouraging it. With business plan competitions and more entrepreneurship elective classes than ever before, startup projects are a major part of the MBA curriculum. And even though it’s not an official goal of Harvard to graduate more entrepreneurs, it’s certainly a positive side effect. Located in the innovation hub of Cambridge, with students including Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg, Harvard has a great startup pedigree.
Berkeley is recognized as one of the top business schools for startups, with many students taking what they’ve learned at the school to start up companies in San Francisco and the South Bay. But experts believe that the city of Berkeley itself (along with neighbor Emeryville, home of Pixar) is poised to make a big impact as a startup location. Along with Berkeley’s Skydeck incubator, the university is one of the most exciting places to study and plan your startup today.
Another top entrepreneurship school, Dartmouth exports a lot of its startup talent. This school has both a history of innovation and a supportive culture, including the Dartmouth Entrepreneurial Network that has helped to launch over 300 projects and companies. They’ve even written the book on startups going from idea to success. And although Dartmouth is about a two-hour drive from the innovation hubs of Cambridge and Boston, there’s still plenty of attention from venture capitalists, particularly in the life sciences and high tech industries.
- UPenn’s Wharton:
Based in Pennsylvania, the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business has been so successful in turning out startups that it’s recently planted roots in the high tech region of San Francisco. Dubbed “Wharton West,” the campus looks a lot like the startups it’s bound to launch, with exposed brick, high ceilings, open air, and videoconferencing equipment. But even before making a big move to the Bay Area, Wharton has had a history of great tech entrepreneurship, educating founders of startups including Invite Media, AdMob, and Diapers.com. In fact, the Wharton Entrepreneurship program is considered to be one of the most influential centers of entrepreneurship in the world, with both an entrepreneurial management program and an entrepreneurial research center. Plus, the schools resources include the world-renowned Wharton Business Plan Competition, Venture Initiation Program, Wharton Small Business Development Center, and the Entrepreneur in Residence program.
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology:
MIT’s level of startup culture is so astounding, it’s borderline ridiculous. As of a 2011 report from the Sloan School of Management, there are at least 25,600 active companies founded by MIT alumni, and their reach is far, employing somewhere in the neighborhood of 3.3 million people. That’s impressive, but even more incredible is the $2 trillion in annual sales these companies generate, meaning if MIT entrepreneurs were a country, they’d have the 11th-largest economy in the world. But it’s not at all surprising, considering the massive amount of support startups can find at MIT, with a seemingly endless list of programs created to spark startup development. Startup Bootcamp, MIT Global Startup Workshop, and Enterprise Forum are just a few of the resources MIT entrepreneurs can call on. And students in MIT’s New Enterprises course actually launch a startup as their final exam. Not bad for a school that recently launched Lark and Hubspot.
Berkeley isn’t the only University of California school graduating startup icons. In 1991, UCLA classmates founded Blizzard Entertainment, makers of the videogame World of Warcraft that boasts more than 12 million players around the world. There’s certainly a history of entrepreneurship on campus, but UCLA is further poised to launch more startups with its new campus-affiliated tech incubator, StartupUCLA, designed to bring more entrepreneurship and tech savvy to the school. Plus, with programs like the UCLA 48hr Startup weekend, there’s no shortage of resources for UCLA entrepreneurs.
- Princeton University:
Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is a Princeton alum; so is Google exec Eric Schmidt. But with all of the amazing resources at Princeton, perhaps the best is yet to come. Student startups can enjoy programs like Princeton Startup Weekend, eLab, and the Princeton Entrepreneurship Club (including Hack Week). There’s even Princeton Startup TV for young entrepreneurs to learn from, offering video conversations with startup founders from the Princeton community and beyond.
- Babson College:
Babson may be tiny, but it’s been lauded by Forbes as an “entrepreneurial powerhouse” for its huge reputation in the business world. All Babson students are required to take the Foundations of Management and Entrepreneurship course, and they’re even given $3,000 with which to start their own business. Students who want a more intensive focus on startups can join programs like the Summer Venture Program to get help launching their dreams. Entrepreneurship takes a major focus at Babson, and more than half of Babson alumni label themselves as involved in entrepreneurial activity. All of this has created a great collection of startup alumni, including Lycos founder Bob Davis and William Green, former CEO of Accenture.
- Yale University:
Yale has a history of entrepreneurship culture, with lots of institutional support, a strong alumni network, access to capital, and a great proximity to the New York Tech scene. The university has graduated startup founders including Bing Gordon of Electronic Arts, Kevin Ryan of Gilt and Doubleclick, and Donna Dubinsky of Palm. For startup Yalies of the future, there’s plenty of support, including the Yale Entrepreneurial Institute, the YCC App challenge, HackYale, and Start-Up Boot Camp.