Stanford offers best MBA for entrepreneurship

US school’s focus on innovation keeps students in business
Stanford topped the entrepreneurship list, followed by MIT's Sloan School of Management and then the Olin Graduate School of Management at Babson College © FT illustration

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Stanford Graduate School of Business offers the best MBA for entrepreneurship, according to new data from the Financial Times.

The Californian school has topped the FT 2017 ranking of the best 50 MBA programmes for entrepreneurship for the third year in a row. Other US schools scored highly. The Sloan School of Management at MIT achieved second place ahead of the Olin Graduate School of Business at Babson College in third.

Research shows that more than a third (36 per cent) of Stanford MBA alumni from the class of 2013 started a company while studying or in the three years following graduation.

The school’s focus on innovation and its location in the heart of Silicon Valley play a part in its success. Another strength is its alumni network. “While the school gave me the fundamentals, I learnt from my peers and alumni, who have done start-ups themselves,” said one graduate responding to the FT survey.

Most of Stanford’s graduate entrepreneurs work on their start-ups full-time. More than three-quarters (76 per cent) derive most or all of their income from their business. “I’m most proud of going from just an idea to a company with 20+ employees,” another graduate said.

Alumni from Olin GSB are the most entrepreneurial overall — more than half (52 per cent) started a company after graduation. But less than half of these (45 per cent) derive their main income from their business.

Entrepreneurs from Stanford and Sloan were the most successful at raising funding from private investors. More than 80 per cent of them received at least a third of their equity from angel investors, crowdfunding or other sources.

The ranking is based on survey data collected from the MBA class of 2013 as part of the FT 2017 Global MBA ranking. Data from alumni inform 12 different criteria. These include the percentage of graduates who started their own company; the proportion of full-time entrepreneurs; and the level of help they received from their school and alumni network.

The FT revised its methodology this year to include the MBA programmes with more than 10 entrepreneurs among survey respondents, down from 15 the previous year. While this allowed the FT to double the number of schools ranked, it also means comparisons in ranked places over the period is not possible.

The enlarged ranking includes schools from 13 countries, up from eight in 2016. It is dominated by US schools, which account for nearly half of all ranked schools. The number of UK schools has also increased from three to 10.

British MBA graduates are the most entrepreneurial, with 35 per cent starting their own company, just ahead of graduates from Mexico (34 per cent). Just 11 per cent and 13 per cent of graduates from Japan and South Korea respectively created start-ups.

A quarter of entrepreneurs set up their companies overseas. A third of these are located in the US, the most popular destination. However, in relative terms, the UK has the most international scene with nearly half of British start-ups set up by foreign entrepreneurs.

The location of their MBA and the strength of the alumni network have a significant influence on where entrepreneurs set up their companies. About 70 per cent and nearly two-thirds of international entrepreneurs based in the US and in the UK already studied there. “Thanks to the alumni network I got my first big customer,” said a French graduate from London Business School based in the UK.

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