Infographic: College or Incubator for Startup Founders?

11/3/11Follow @curtwoodward

[Updated 11/4 at 2:30 pm]
Not everyone can be a Gates, Allen, Jobs, or Zuckerberg—founders who dropped out of college and went on to change the technology industry by starting landmark companies.

But there are more options available for budding entrepreneurs these days, most notably the explosion of incubators, accelerators, and other startup nurseries that help young companies get off the ground.

Today in Seattle, the local branch of the national TechStars program will unleash its latest crop of 10 proto-companies on the press and investors, showing off what they’ve been able to accomplish over the past few months. It’s TechStars’ second-ever class to graduate in Seattle.

With the Demo Day in mind, the folks at Gist—the contact-management app startup recently acquired by RIM—have put together this infographic running through some facts and figures about the age-old entrepreneur’s debate: Finish school, or dive in headfirst?

The graphic, which pulled some of its data directly from TechStars and Y Combinator, gives a sense of just how powerful those programs can be in helping startups stay out of the dead pool.

And according to the stats here, TechStars has a better success rate, with about 7 percent of companies going under, vs. roughly 22 percent for Y Combinator alums.

I was personally a little surprised that such a high percentage—nearly half—of startup founders would have postgraduate degrees, according to the data Gist consulted.

But the bit about founders without an undergrad degree getting more funding is a little less surprising, given statements from big-time VCs like Vinod Khosla that the best ideas come from people under 25. Click on the graphic to spawn it in its own browser window, where you can zoom in for the fine print. [Infographic updated 11/4 to correct labeling of Reid Hoffman.]

Curt Woodward is a senior editor for Xconomy based in Boston. Email: cwoodward@xconomy.com Follow @curtwoodward

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  • http://topcweb.com Brian

    quick note the Linkedin Co-Founder text is marked as Sergey Brin

    • http://on.fb.me/curtwoodward Curt Woodward

      Nice catch Brian! – Gist got back to me today with this corrected version.

  • http://topcweb.com Brian

    Thanks for sharing the InfoGraphic. The skyrocketing cost of higher education is putting more pressure on the required return making the decision more difficult. I value my education but wish I had been aware of the landscape earlier.

  • Avi Marcus

    Why are you only counting active companies as successes? Acquired/merging means it failed..?

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