Intro

Many attempts have been made to create a ranking of Unicorn universities where the number of unicorns founded by university graduates is often taken as a comparison metric.


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 universities and building a ranking. Anyone who understands the venture capital market knows that there are nuances in getting a startup to unicorn status.


For example, while raising the round, the startup was valued at 900 million, not 1 billion. However, it is beneficial for both the founders of the startup and the investing funds that the startup is considered a unicorn. Therefore the unicorn status is assigned to this startup by the media. Meanwhile, the opposite situation can occur when a startup is valued at 1 billion but for some reason, founders prefer not to disclose this information publicly.


Unicorn Nest has algorithms that are able to identify such startups taking into account the total amount of money raised and their industry. We call them pseudo unicorns. In addition to historical ranking, we also created the quarterly one. This approach reflects the real dynamics of the venture capital market. 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.



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


The dataset also includes:
• 663 unicorns and pseudo unicorns
• 1,714 rounds of startups that became unicorns in a round and repeated rounds of unicorns
• 992 funds that have invested in unicorn rounds
• 1,945 universities from 84 countries

Quarterly Top of Universities by Unicorns Money Raised

Top 15 Universities by Money Raised in 3rd Quarter 2020

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

Top 15 Universities of Funds Key Persons Invested in Unicorns in 3rd Quarter 2020

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

Quarterly Top of Universities by Increase in Unicorns Value

Top 15 Universities by Money Raised in 3rd Quarter 2020

This chart shows university rankings by increase in unicorn valuation for the third 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 3rd 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 35% for startups and 28% 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.

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.

Harvard Business SchoolStanford Graduate School of BusinessHarvard UniversityUniversity of PennsylvaniaPrinceton University
1Stanford University 5.74%Stanford University 6.61%Stanford University 6.61%Stanford University 6.41%Stanford University 4.79%
2Massachusetts Institute of Technology 3.51%Harvard University 3.76%Massachusetts Institute of Technology 4.37%Massachusetts Institute of Technology 3.84%Harvard University 4.42%
3Harvard University 3.26%Massachusetts Institute of Technology 3.64%Harvard University 4.18%Harvard University 3.69%Massachusetts Institute of Technology 4.33%
4Harvard Business School 3.19%Harvard Business School 3.01%Harvard Business School 3.59%Harvard Business School 3.51%Harvard Business School 2.35%
5Brown University 1.99%University of California, Berkeley 2.18%University of Pennsylvania 1.75%Stanford Graduate School of Business 1.82%Brown University 2.07%
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

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

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 UniversityHarvard UniversityMassachusetts Institute of Technology
Unicorn FoundersFunds Key PersonsUnicorn FoundersFunds Key PersonsUnicorn FoundersFunds Key Persons
Transportation 3.59Logistics 2.71Transportation 3.71Retail 3.54Transportation 6.6Retail 3.47
Financial Services 3.59Retail 2.54Artificial Intelligence 3.71Fashion 2.88FinTech 3.77Fashion 2.86
Manufacturing 3.59Transportation 2.37Finance 3.71Big Data 2.44Analytics 3.77Transportation 2.86
FinTech 3.08Financial Services 2.13Ride Sharing 2.78Analytics 2.21Financial Services 3.77Payments 2.65
Finance 2.56Big Data 2.12Retail 2.78Transportation 2.1Ride Sharing 2.83Logistics 2.24
Final words

In the third quarter 2020 the following Universities topped the ranking: Stanford University — by money raised by unicorn startups from the funds key persons side Stanford Graduate School of Business — by money raised by unicorn startups from the Unicorn founders side Stanford University — by increase in unicorn valuation from the Fund's key persons side Indian Institute of Technology — by Increase in Unicorn Valuation from the Unicorn founders side


Top University of All Time by number unicorn startups 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 startups
• 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 valuation
• Harvard 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 no more than 30% of the amount of money raised by startups. 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 Q3 of 2020 is 11.1%. For the three previous quarters it was 16.7%, 14.3%, and 22.2% respectively.


Funds that employ alumni from Harvard University, Stanford University, University of Pennsylvania, and Princeton University more often invest in unicorns 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 Transportation, Financial Services, Logistics, and Retail.


Harvard University alumni create startups and invest money more often in Artificial Intelligence, Transportation, Retail, and Fashion.


Massachusetts Institute of Technology alumni create startups and invest money more often in FinTech, Transportation, Retail, and Fashion.


We are going to publish the ranking on a quarterly basis. Stay tuned!


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