10 Schools with Startup Spirit


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Since Mark Zuckerburg changed the face of the Internet and put a frown on the face on MySpace in 2004, startup spirit has increased on university and college campuses everywhere. Young, creative minds are making the most of their secondary education experiences by turning innovative ideas into thriving companies — all while earning a degree and living on ramen. Schools are aware of the growing need to be startup-friendly, particularly in our increasingly tech-savvy world, so colleges and universities are creating competitions and classes designed to foster entrepreneurial enthusiasm that could potentially produce the next Facebook.


Here are 10 colleges and universities (in no particular order) that foster entrepreneurial spirit and give students the education and opportunities necessary to succeed in the 2015 world of startups.

1. Stanford University


This wouldn’t be a worthwhile post about startup spirit if we didn’t hail Silicon Valley for its business-birthing abilities. Located in the heart of California’s startup breeding ground, Stanford has educated the great minds that created world-changing companies like Instagram, Snapchat, Yahoo, and Google.


Stanford University takes the top spot on LinkedIn’s list of “Best undergraduate universities for software developers at startups,” based on how successful graduates have been at landing jobs in software development at startups. It is also the second best university in the world according to the Center for World University Rankings and has produced 30 billionaires.


Fun fact: Not one to betray health-conscious Californians, Stanford has more bikes registered on campus than students.


2. Massachusetts Institute of Technology


MIT’s $100K Entrepreneurship Competition helps students and researchers to pool their talents together and form leading companies. The competition, which has been going strong for 25 years, “is run as a series of distinct, increasingly intensive contests: Pitch, Accelerate, and Launch.”


Some of the recent startups to come from the competition include Bright Cellars, an online wine-tasting club, and RaptorMaps, which designs drones that monitor crop health with the goal of helping to feed the world.


MIT was also the launching ground of Dropbox, the hugely popular file-sharing company. Created by Arash Ferdowski and Drew Houston in 2007, Dropbox has revolutionized the storage and safekeeping of documents around the globe.


Fun fact: MIT’s first international student came from Canada in 1866. Today, the school has students from over 100 different countries.


3. Cornell University


While Andy Bernard from “The Office” may not have magnified his alma mater’s startup spirit very well, Cornell has a vast network of students and alumni involved in startup efforts. For the last five years it has hosted a program called “3 Day Startup,” where students start tech companies in just three days.


Cornell is also currently building a $2 billion graduate campus on New York City’s Roosevelt Island called Cornell Tech. This campus will provide startup-related education and experiences for students and will further brand Cornell as an ideal university for entrepreneurs.


Fun fact: Cornell University is the only public Ivy League school.


4. Cooper Union


Labeled America’s Most Entrepreneurial College of 2015 by Forbes, Cooper Union in New York has a student population of only 920, but “boasts more founders and owners among alumni and students on LinkedIn than Stanford University and MIT (adjusted for student body size).”


Cooper Union empowers students to pursue innovation through its Create@Cooper program, which has highlighted students’ incredible software development and hacking potential to big companies like Google. This year saw Create@Cooper’s second hackathon, “Hack Cooper.” The event had more than 200 attendees and was representative of Cooper’s thriving hacking community.

Fun fact: The Cooper Union Foundation building is home to the world’s first elevator shaft. There’s a metaphor for success in there, right?


5. Harvard University


Microsoft was founded by Bill Gates and Paul Allen soon after they left Harvard. Bill Gates actually dropped out of the prestigious Ivy League school, as did Facebook creator, Mark Zuckerburg, but it seems appropriate to give Harvard — the best university in the world — credit for attracting and educating such brilliant students.


If you want an example of a successful Harvard startup not created by dropouts, look no further than HourlyNerd, a company that connects MBA students with small businesses looking for help. Originally created as a class project by three MBA students, HourlyNerd has impacted the business consulting world by offering services at a fraction of the cost of traditional consulting companies.


Fun fact: Harvard Business School students have launched a number of successful fashion-related startups, including Rent the Runway, ThredUp, and BaubleBar. Elle Woods would be proud!


6. University of Texas


The University of Texas is where Dell (formerly known as PC’s Limited) was founded by a 19-year-old freshman named Michael Dell. It is also home to the Longhorn Startup, a seminar and lab experience for student entrepreneurs. Its website features an impressive portfolio of student companies created through Longhorn Startup courses in the last few years.


Fun fact: The University of Texas adopted its orange and white colors after two fans in 1885 visited a store before a baseball game and found orange and white ribbons to be the most abundantly stocked.


7. Princeton University


Princeton boasts an impressive resume of technologies and discoveries made or invented at the university. Companies such as BioNano Genomics and Orthobond may not sound as sexy as Facebook, but they are just as admirable in their own rights.


Fun fact: Princeton has been the backdrop for a number of big movies such as “A Beautiful Mind” and “Transformers.”



8.University of California, Berkeley


“UC Berkeley’s startup accelerator is transforming entrepreneurship,” says the website for UC Berkeley’s Startup Competition, LAUNCH. LAUNCH was designed to help students’ startups become fundable companies. It has launched businesses like zPillow, a noise-canceling pillow; Wetravel, an online platform for group tour organizers; and Knox, an asthma-management platform used in pediatrics.


Fun fact: UC Berkeley professor William Vere Cruess is the inventor of fruit cocktail. He is also credited with co-founding the field of food science.


9. Babson College


U.S. News & World Report has ranked Babson College number one for entrepreneurship for 19 years in a row. The college is also named a Top 30 Undergraduate Business School in the U.S. News Best Colleges Report and has earned a number of other impressive rankings in various reports.


Fun fact: You won’t find a can of Coke at Babson College. Former Chairman and CEO of PepsiCo Inc., Rob Enrico, is a proud Babson graduate, and the college offers exclusively Pepsi products.


10. California Institute of Technology


Caltech’s Entrepreneurship Club provides students with skills and networking opportunities to help them launch startup companies. Events offered by the club include business plan competitions, entrepreneurship bootcamps, field trips to Silicon Valley and San Diego, an Entrepreneurship Seminar Series, and a Startup Workshop Series.


Fun fact: Caltech was the only school listed twice on the Museum of Hoaxes’ list of the top 10 college pranks of all time.



Whether you’re looking to gain admittance to a tech-savvy university or hoping to snatch up a recent graduate from a school that fosters innovation to help your own startup, check out these 10 schools first. Then, check out some of these business tips to help you further your career.

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