Entrepreneurs

The 11 best business schools for aspiring entrepreneurs

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Lisi Cai | Getty Images

Some of the country's most successful entrepreneurs are adamant that a formal business education is not necessary to follow in their footsteps.

"I fully, fully, 100,000%, with no hedge do not believe you can teach entrepreneurship," says serial entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk. That was his opening line in a 2015 talk to USC entrepreneurship students. "So, that's awkward."*

PayPal co-founder and investor Peter Thiel gives 24 students a year $100,000 to drop out of college and work on a start-up. Alumni of the program the so-called Thiel Fellowship have launched more than 60 companies worth a total of over $1.1 billion.

For many entrepreneurs, however, business school is a launching pad. It provides them with a basic understanding of how to run a company as well as access to a network of investors, advisors and potential co-founders.

Since 2013, graduate business education resource Poets&Quants has ranked the start-ups to come out of business schools by the amount of venture capital-backed funding. The annual list of top MBA start-ups includes 100 companies founded between Jan. 1, 2012, and Dec. 31, 2016, that have at least one founder who graduated with an MBA in that same time frame.

Wide angle view of Hoover Tower on Stanford University campus
Michael Layefsky | Getty Images
Wide angle view of Hoover Tower on Stanford University campus

CNBC took that data and used it to rank the business schools that produced these successful founders. (A few start-ups on the list have founders from more than one business school. In those cases, the start-up was counted for each school that had an alum on the founding team.)

Two schools dominate: Harvard Business School and Stanford's Graduate School of Business. Each has alumni running 24 venture-funded start-ups. This is the first year the list has been published that Harvard Business School hasn't been able to claim that top spot exclusively, according to the Poets&Quants analysis of the data.

And while Harvard and Stanford boast alumni at nearly half the start-ups on the list, in 2015, the two heavyweights dominated the list even more conclusively, with 71 start-ups between them.

Silicon Valley retains its geographic dominance. More start-up founders from there claim spots on the list than from any other region of the country. And almost a third of the companies making it to the list are in the Bay Area.

According to Poets&Quants data, here are 2017's top business schools for aspiring entrepreneurs:

Harvard Business School: 24 companies
Stanford Graduate School of Business: 24 companies
The University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School: 12 companies
Columbia Business School: 11 companies
Northwestern's Kellogg School of Management: 8 companies
MIT Sloan School of Management: 6 companies
NYU Stern School of Business: 5 companies
UC Berkeley Haas School of Business: 4 companies
UCLA Anderson School of Management: 3 companies
University of Texas Austin McCombs: 2 companies
The University of Virginia Darden School of Business: 2 companies

For a look at the complete list of the top 100 MBA start-ups, check out the full data set from Poets&Quants, released early this week, here.

*Vaynerchuk has since elaborated on Twitter.