Entrepreneurs will tell you that in the start-up business, what you know is as important as who you know, but a study shows there’s another factor determining whether or not a venture capitalist will trust you with their hard-earned cash — where you got your MBA. A study released by PitchBook Data, a leading provider of data and technology to the private equity and venture capital industries, shows that VCs will be a lot more willing to invest in your idea if your MBA is from an Israeli university.
The study, culled from PitchBook’s prodigious database on tech deals and the people behind them, places four Israeli universities as among the best institutions to attend outside the US and Europe for MBAs seeking to persuade VCs to invest. The number one school outside the US and Europe for budding entrepreneurs is Tel Aviv University. According to PitchBook data, TAU’s MBA programs produced 50 graduates who went on to establish 56 start-ups, raising initial VC investments of $833 million altogether. Taking Europe into account, Tel Aviv is the number two non-US school for MBA entrepreneurs seeking to get funded, bested only by Europe’s INSEAD MBA graduate school.
When US schools are added to the mix, Tel Aviv shows up as number 11, behind UC Berkeley and UCLA but ahead of NYU and the University of London. The top five are Harvard, Stanford, U. of Pennsylvania, MIT, and Northwestern. Also doing Israel proud are Bar-Ilan University (the number three school for MBA fundraising outside the US/Europe), Technion (number six), and Hebrew University of Jerusalem (number seven). All three, like TAU, are in the top 50 of the PitchBook worldwide rankings.
“To close observers of the global VC industry, it shouldn’t be surprising to see an Israeli school crack the top 10, as Israel has emerged as a technology epicenter and hub for VC investment over the past several years,” PitchBook said in its report.
The message, PitchBook said, is that going to college and grad school is worth the time and money. When discussing entrepreneurial success, PitchBook said, “names like Bill Gates, Paul Allen, Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg are often mentioned when the subject comes up. All of them built multi-billion dollar empires, and none of them have college diplomas. For better or worse, the term ‘college dropout’ has become somewhat synonymous with ‘successful founder.’”
But those successes are very much the exception, the report said. “Going back to the start of 2009, 19 universities can boast of alumni raking in a combined $1 billion or more in venture capital financing. There’s ample evidence that diplomas don’t hurt at all in the start-up community, particularly in the eyes of VC investors.”