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The most successful founders come from these universities

Knowing where it’s going: the right exit strategy is a desirable goal for many founders. (Photo: Jay Kim / Shutterstock)

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For many startup founders, a successful exit is the ultimate feeling. Also this year, numerous start-up founders from Germany sold their company.

For the third time now, the communications agency Tonka the numbers on the exits of German startups are evaluated and an analysis of which universities most of the successful exit founders come from. The picture is relatively clear: For the third time in a row, the WHU Otto Beisheim School of Management has topped the ranking of the most successful exit universities for the third year. The Koblenz University of Applied Sciences produces the most founders of the Exit Monitor 2020 with 20 people.

The Technical University of Munich (10) and the Ludwig Maximilians University of Munich (9) follow on the other places. Just as many, on the other hand, moved north to study at the University of Hamburg, so that the two institutions share third place. Fourth place among the most popular exit universities is occupied by the Swiss University of St. Gallen, the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology and the private EBS University of Economics and Law, each with eight graduates. Incidentally, just 22 of the 235 founders examined studied at one of Berlin’s universities, even if Berlin is still considered a stronghold of the startup scene. Last year, however, the TU Berlin was even further ahead.

This does not necessarily say anything about the quality of teaching at the individual universities, but it does say how much the universities incorporate topics such as entrepreneurship into their training or how much the universities at least address students who have an affinity for starting a business.

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Business subjects are very popular with Exit founders

A look at the subjects of study of the founders is also informative: with a share of 46 people, most of the founders have completed a degree in business administration. In second place of the most popular courses of study is Informatics / Computer Sciences with 25 graduates. 19 or 17 exit founders studied finances and economics. In fact, imparting a spirit of entrepreneurship is already part of the curriculum for many: management or entrepreneurship was already on the curriculum for twelve of the successful founders. Sustainability and responsible entrepreneurship are becoming increasingly popular: subjects such as innovation, sustainability or renewable energies are represented in at least 14 of those examined.

The study also shows that a high academic degree is at least not a hindrance, even if some of the flagship dropouts from Silicon Valley are repeatedly taken as role models. While 73 Exit founders completed their master’s degree, 29 of those examined even completed their studies with a doctorate. But it also becomes clear that attending a university is not necessary for a successful start-up: Twelve founders, on the other hand, completed an apprenticeship instead of studying. The premature termination of studies, however, remains an isolated case.

A summary of results can be found in the agency’s blog. Incidentally, it is also interesting to take a look at the comparable study from last year that was carried out together with the Startup Night.

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