Quick and dirty experiment - Top SEA Startups and where the founders went to school

An Analysis of Founder and Executive Education Backgrounds at Top Southeast Asian Startups

I conducted an analysis of the educational backgrounds of founders at 99 of the highest-funded startups in Southeast Asia. Using Crunchbase as the database and then researched the schools and programs listed for key leaders at each company.

By far the most represented university is National University of Singapore (NUS), with 18 attendees out of 227. No other university comes close, underscoring NUS’s dominance as a pipeline for Southeast Asian startup talent (bachelors). 

U.S. schools are also popular, especially Stanford (6 attendees) and Carnegie Mellon (6 attendees). However, an interesting finding is Harvard Business School (MBA) comes in second with 12 attendees.

Several other insights emerge:

  • Within Singapore, beyond NUS, notables include Nanyang Technological University (10 attendees) and Singapore Management University (5 attendees).

  • STEM degrees are common from schools across the board.

  • US schools beat UK and Australian schools by a wider margin.

  • Indonesian founders - ITB is creates more of such founders than University of Indonesia.

This analysis still only scratches the surface. With additional data on companies, founders, executives, and their educational paths, we could develop even richer insights into the human capital flows behind Southeast Asia’s tech innovation and entrepreneurship. Please let me know if you would like me to pursue any further research.

p.s For Parents from Singapore: Go to NUS for bachelors and HBS for MBA - there you go no pressure. You are welcome.