This local university produced way more startup founders in Singapore than 2 other major institutions combined

iPrice Group and Gobi Partners

If you thought that having coding skills or a computer science background is essential to becoming the next Jack Ma, you might want to reconsider that.

This is according to a study conducted by metasearch group iPrice and venture capital firm Gobi Partners which analysed the education background of 195 founders from 93 Singaporean startups that have successfully concluded grade A or higher funding rounds.

Out of the 150 founders who were Bachelor holders, 75% (112) of them took up a non-tech related discipline, with engineering (30), economics (19) and business (12) being the most popular courses. This is followed by law and commerce with five graduates each.

Among the 38 who graduated with a tech degree, 19 majored in computer science, 13 in computer engineering, and another four majored in computing.

Out of the 195 founders, 41 did not list their bachelor’s field of study and 31 did not list their bachelor’s place of study. Another 4 founders did not complete their studies and were disqualified, iPrice said.

A similar study in Malaysia by iPrice earlier this month produced similar results.

This goes to show that whilst tech knowledge might come in handy, not having it may not be a major stumbling block on the path to entrepreneurship either.

When it comes to institutions, the National University of Singapore (NUS) took the lead with 40 founders.

They include founders of marketplace app Carousell, Siu Rui Quek, Lucas Ngoo and Marcus Tan, as well as co-founders of finance comparison site, MoneySmart, Timothy Kua and Vinod Nair.

iPrice Group and Gobi Partners

Harvard took second place, with nine founders, and their alumni roll includes co-founders of ride-hailing app Grab, Anthony Tan and Tan Hooi Ling, and co-founder of grocery concierge and delivery service Honestbee Joel Sng.

Third was Stamford University with seven founders such as Zach Cheng of Referral Candy, a referral marketing web app, and Arrif Ziaudeen, CEO of restaurant-reservations service Chope.

Tied for fourth place was Nanyang Technological University (NTU) and business school INSEAD with six founders each, followed by Singapore Management University (SMU) with four.

iPrice Group and Gobi Partners

While most entrepreneurs studied in overseas institutions, NUS produced way more successful startup founders in Singapore than the other two local universities combined. It also produced more startup founders than Harvard, Stanford and INSEAD did.

Other universities which startup founders graduated from include the University of Cambridge, Monash University, Carnegie Mellon University, University of Michigan, Monash University, Purdue University, University of Southern California and the Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur.

Looking at the results, it seems fair to say that the graduates produced by local universities are just as well-equipped as those from international universities.


iPrice Group and Gobi Partners

A total of 114 out of 160 founders studied abroad at the Bachelor level, 27 of 31 did so at the Master level. Only one entrepreneur achieved the MBA locally, while 35 choose to do so with overseas institutions.

Some entrepreneurs who chose to complete their Bachelor’s locally also took up Master’s programmes at overseas institutions later on. Anuj Bheda, co-founder of digital property firm, earned his Bachelor’s degree in computer engineering from NTU, but achieved his Master’s degree at MIT.