The LSE Entrepreneur: What the Data Shows

At Houghton Street Ventures, we back alumni, faculty and student founders from the London School of Economics and Political Science. In our previous two blog posts, we have explored the macro, the record-breaking year that was 2021 and the LSE ecosystem as a whole. It’s now time to look at the data from a micro point-of-view — the individual entrepreneurs themselves — and provide some insights into what the typical LSE entrepreneur “looks like”.

As usual, the data presented today comes from the insight and sourcing engine that we have built at Houghton Street Ventures. It ensures we support our global ecosystem as best we can from the moment founders start thinking about reshaping the future and begin their entrepreneurial journey. It is our eyes inside the network.

Gender

Proportion of Companies founded by Men/Women

Active Founders grouped by Gender

Over a quarter of the 15,000+ active founders we track within the LSE ecosystem are women. We are pleased to see from the data that, over time, this number is pushing toward equality. In 2022, companies with at least one female co-founder are at an all-time high of 32%. However, there is still a lot to do, particularly when looking into the fundraising data.

Number of Funding Rounds (Equity), grouped by Gender

Total Venture Dollars Raised (Equity), grouped by Gender

When looking at the historical venture funding grouped by gender, 90% of all venture dollars have gone to the male founders in our universe. Normalising for the amount and looking at the number of rounds in isolation, 84% of all rounds have been closed by male founders. Highlighting these inequalities is just the first step toward making a difference; something needs to change, and we, at Houghton Street Ventures, look to be part of the solution (in part, through our work at VentureESG — see a recent post by one of our members, 2150, on bringing DEI to VC). Nevertheless, some significant progress has already been made, and it is inspiring to see female founders like Kate Ryder of Maven Clinic and Hande Cilingir of Insider in the LSE unicorn club.

Education

Time in years between Founding First Company and Graduating from the LSE

We are always interested in where to look for our LSE founders and therefore dug into the data to see how long after graduating from the LSE someone sets up their first business. As you can see from the chart above, the time it takes to start their first business after graduating decreases from an average of 17 years for those who graduated in 1990 to 4 years for those who graduated in 2010. The six-year average for the graduation class of 2007 (the one I was part of) almost identically mirrors my journey from the LSE before I founded Scalable Capital about seven years later via a stint at Goldman Sachs first.

This data doesn’t consider the “future founders” within the graduating classes who will naturally pull up the averages over time. We have looked into that, and, although not as visually appealing as the above, it shows the same conclusion — that the LSE entrepreneur is more likely to be an alumnus who has gone out into the world before starting their own business — but the length of time they are waiting before taking the entrepreneurial plunge is decidedly decreasing over time.

LSE founders, grouped by LSE Degree Level

Almost half of the LSE founders were awarded a Master’s degree from the LSE, and those with a Bachelor’s degree make up the next quarter. This is not too surprising, given that the LSE postgraduate body is of a similar size to its undergraduate one.

LSE founders, grouped by LSE Degree Type

The most common LSE degree within our founder universe is Economics. Again, it is not too surprising to see the above mix of subjects given the school’s reputation as one of the world’s top social science and management schools.

It is precisely this leading-edge thinking that makes the school fertile ground for the incubation of industry-redefining business models that will change the way we live and work for decades to come. You don’t have to look much further than Jim McKelvey (co-founder of Square, a.k.a. Block), who spent his junior year at the LSE studying Statistics and Mathematics or Don Katz (co-founder of Audible), who studied Economics at the LSE to see this in action.

Top LSE Founder Co-Educating Institutions

Our founders don’t just go to the LSE, but many have studied at other leading academic institutions. It is great to see top UK, US and European schools represented broadly within our founder universe. It is within this vast network that they have found co-founders and talent to join them on their entrepreneurial journeys. We plan in the future to look at these links more broadly to understand the interconnectivity of the network between all these different institutions when viewing them with an entrepreneurial lens. This is important in the context of the LSE as its focus on business, social sciences, and the humanities means that bridges into other, more engineering-led universities create a powerful combination across both business and technical talent.

Professional Experience

Top LSE Founder Previous Employers

To finish our data download today, we wanted to share some information about where our founders previously worked. After the LSE (which took the number one slot with a vast number of people actively participating within the school as part of their studies, e.g. as a research assistant or a core member of a society), we see strong representation from the consultants (e.g. McKinsey, BCG, EY and Deloitte), the banks (e.g. Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs) as well as representation within big-tech (with Google making the top 10 and Amazon, Microsoft and Facebook just outside of this list).

If you are building a business and have a connection with the London School of Economics and Political Science, we would love to speak to you and learn more about your vision for your company.

Learn more about what we do and submit your pitch at houghtonstreet.com or follow us on LinkedIn.

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We are Houghton Street Ventures, a venture capital firm founded in partnership with the London School of Economics. Leveraging the LSE ecosystem, we support our founders with inspiration, insight, and influence.

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Adam French

Adam French

Partner at Houghton Street Ventures. Backing LSE entrepreneurs.

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