Intro

Many attempts have been made to create a ranking of Unicorn universities where the number of unicorn companies founded by university graduates is often taken as a comparison metric, which can’t identify real unicorn breeders.

 

In our ranking, we decided to go further and show Top Universities by the amount of money raised and increase in unicorn value. These indicators provide a more honest basis for comparing unicorn universities and building a ranking.

 

Unicorn Nest has algorithms know how unicorns are made and able to identify such startups even taking into account the total amount of money raised and their industry. We call them pseudo unicorn company. In addition to historical ranking, we also created the quarterly one. This approach reflects the real dynamics of the unicorn club. Moreover, we have ranked the top universities not only by unicorn founders but also by the key persons of the funds investing in startups that reached unicorn status. Nobody has done this before.

 

In the second part of our ranking, we investigated the question of whether university ties affect the amount of money raised in a round and whether there are relationships in the degree and field of education between unicorn founders and fund key persons, which illustrates how to network efficiently.

 


To build the ranking, we defined unicorn startups and collected anonymized data about the places of studies of the unicorn founders and key persons of the associated funds.

 

The dataset also includes:
• 890 unicorns and pseudo unicorns
• 1,964 rounds of startups that became unicorns in a round and repeated rounds of unicorns
• 2,338 unique funds that have invested in unicorn rounds
• 1,966 universities from 84 countries

Quarterly Top of Universities by Unicorns Money Raised

Top 15 Universities by Money Raised in 4th Quarter 2020

The first chart shows university rankings by Unicorns Money Raised for the fourth quarter of 2020 from the unicorn founders side.

Top 15 Universities of Funds Key Persons Invested in Unicorns in 4th Quarter 2020

The second chart shows university rankings from the funds key persons side.

Quarterly Top of Universities by Increase in Unicorns Value

Top Universities by Increase in Unicorns Value in 4th Quarter 2020

This chart shows university rankings by increase in unicorn valuation for the fourth quarter of 2020 from the unicorn founders side.

Top 15 Universities of Funds Key Persons Invested in Unicorns by Increase in the Value of Startups in 4th Quarter 2020

The second chart shows university rankings from the funds key persons side.

Top Universities of All Time

By number of Unicorns

Top unicorns: Graduates from these universities have founded most unicorn startups.
Top funds: Graduates of these universities are key persons of most funds investing in Unicorns
Ranking of educational institutions in history

By Money Raised and Unicorn Valuation in selected World’s Region

Top 15 Universities by Funds Invested in Unicorns

Top 15 Universities by Unicorns Money Raised

Top 15 Universities of Funds Key Persons invested in Unicorns by Unicorn Valuation

Top 15 Universities of Unicorn Founders by Unicorn Valuation

Coefficient of determination — R2 Score

We decided not only to display the actual picture of the ranking but also to assess the strength of university ties influence. To do this, we built a regression model that included university affiliation between startups and foundations.

 

Regression analysis showed that university connections explain the amount of money raised in a unicorn round by 15% for startups and 21% for funds (R2 Score – coefficient of determination).

 

We also included a variable that shows the intersection between unicorn founders and funds key persons in the places of study within the same round. However, for the regression model, this variable was not significant.

Quarterly Score of the share of rounds with university ties

This speedometer shows the share of unicorn deals with an overlap in a university of startup founders and key persons of funds who invested in rounds for the last year.

Quarterly Score of the share of rounds with university ties
Top Universities of Unicorn founders in which alumni from these Top 5 Universities of Funds Key Persons invest

Top 5 Universities of Funds Key Persons by money raised

We have selected top 5 universities of funds key persons in order to look at the startups of the graduates of which universities they invest in more often. This allows to check if any university ties exist when choosing a startup for investment and serves as good networking tips.

Harvard Business SchoolStanford Graduate School of BusinessHarvard UniversityUniversity of PennsylvaniaStanford University
1Stanford University5.57%Stanford University6.58%Stanford University6.52%Stanford University6.39%Stanford University6.91%
2Massachusetts Institute of Technology3.14%Harvard University3.49%Massachusetts Institute of Technology3.75%Harvard University3.47%Massachusetts Institute of Technology3.77%
3Harvard Business School3.09%Massachusetts Institute of Technology3.27%Harvard University3.75%Massachusetts Institute of Technology3.38%Harvard University3.55%
4Harvard University3.06%Harvard Business School2.85%Harvard Business School3.49%Harvard Business School3.34%Harvard Business School3.02%
5University of California, Los Angeles2.12%University of California, Los Angeles2.28%University of California, Los Angeles2.05%University of California, Los Angeles2.19%University of California, Los Angeles2.19%

Comparison of degree and field of education between Unicorn Founders and Fund Key Persons

Distribution of degree received by Unicorn Founders and Funds Key Persons

Here we show the ratio of the degree of key fund persons and unicorn founders.

Distribution of field of study by Unicorn Founders and Funds Key Persons

Distribution of field of study by Unicorn Founders and Funds Key Persons
Top Unicorn and Funds Industries by Universities

For the top three universities, we compared the industries in which graduates found startups and invest money to reveal university schools with high student networking.

Stanford UniversityUniversity of California, Los AngelesHarvard Business School
Unicorn FoundersFunds Key PersonsUnicorn FoundersFunds Key PersonsUnicorn FoundersFunds Key Persons
Financial Services3.98Retail2.75Real Estate4.55Artificial Intelligence4.05Logistics3.08Retail3.11
Artificial Intelligence2.99Artificial Intelligence2.31Finance4.55Retail3.38Finance3.08Service Industry2.81
Logistics2.99Service Industry2.22FinTech4.55Security2.36FinTech3.08Big Data1.91
FinTech2.49Shopping1.86Cloud Computing4.55Medical Device2.36Financial Services3.08Shopping1.79
Travel1.99Big Data1.86Artificial Intelligence4.55Cyber Security2.36Cloud Data Services2.31Manufacturing1.73

Final words

In the fourth quarter 2020 the following Unicorn Universities topped the ranking: Harvard Business School — by money raised by unicorn startups from the funds key persons side; Stanford University — by money raised by unicorn startups from the Unicorn founders side; Yale University — by increase in unicorn valuation from the Fund’s key persons side; University of California, Los Angeles — by Increase in Unicorn Valuation from the Unicorn founders side

 

Top University of All Time by number unicorn companies are:
• Stanford University from the Unicorn founders side
• Harvard Business School from the Fund’s key persons side

 

Top University of all time by total money raised by unicorn companies
• Stanford University from the Unicorn founders side
• Harvard Business School from the Fund’s key persons side

 

Top University of all time by increase in unicorn companies valuation
• Stanford University from the Unicorn founders side
• Harvard Business School from the Fund’s key persons side

 

The regression model shows that the university connections explain how to become a unicorn by no more than 21%. The presence of an intersection at the place of study is not significant.

 

The share of unicorn deals with an overlap between a university of startup founders and key persons of funds that invested in the round in the Q4 of 2020 is 7.36%. For the three previous quarters it was 11.1%, 16.7%, and 14.3% respectively.

 

Funds that employ alumni from Harvard University, Stanford University, and University of Pennsylvania more often invest in unicorn companies founded by Stanford University alumni.

 

There is more Ph.D. degree received among the Unicorn founders than funds key persons and the opposite situation with an MBA degree.

 

Computer Science & AI are the most popular fields among the Unicorn founders and Finance among Funds key persons.

 

Stanford University alumni create startups and invest money more often in Financial Services, Retail, and Artificial Intelligence.

 

University of California, Los Angeles alumni create startups and invest money more often in Real Estate, Artificial Intelligence, Finance, and Retail.

 

Harvard Business School alumni create startups and invest money more often in Logistics, Retail, Finance,  and Service Industry.

 

We are going to publish the unicorn universities ranking on a quarterly basis. Check our previous one.

Stay tuned!

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