One Thing You Don’t Need To Be An Entrepreneur: A College Degree
We were in a board meeting today and the founder/CEO made a comment about a deal he's working on and I said "well you learned that well in school." He smiled and said, "we didn't go to school" (meaning college). I didn't actually know that, but it did not surprise me. I have learned that where someone went to college (or even if they didn't go to college) has absolutely no correlation to whether they will be a good entrepreneur or not. I don't pay attention to that part of a resume. I focus on what they've done in the work world, what they've shown they can do, and most importantly what they've done to date on that specific startup.
We chuckled about that exchange and the other VC on the board said "I think twenty percent or more of our portfolio companies are led by entrepreneurs who didn't graduate from college."
That got me thinking about our portfolio. This is a guess because as I said, I don't really know for sure, but I think about seven or eight of the twenty-one portfolio companies listed on our website have founders who did not graduate from college. It's not half, but it's a large percentage.
There are some reasons for this. Several of the founders of our portfolio companies grew up in other parts of the world where college attendance is less common. Some of the founders didn't have the patience to sit through four years of education they didn't feel was relevant to them. And some of the founders were too busy starting companies to finish college.
Entrepreneurs don't need degrees like lawyers and doctors do. They are credentialed by virtue of their track record. The first startup is hard but if they make that one work, they end up with something much better than a college degree. They have a notch in their belt. They've got a track record of success. Even if the first one is a failure, I'd say that they've got something more than a degree. They've shown they can start something from nothing, build a team, a product, and maybe even a business.
We've been spending a lot of time lately thinking about, talking about, learning about, and looking at the whole education sector. Education is critically important. But you don't have to go to school to be educated and if being an entrepreneur is your goal in life, that's even more true.