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#1 again! Olin’s MBA Entrepreneurship Program Tops P&Q Ranking in 3rd Year

Nancy Nigh
October 25, 2021

The Skandalaris Center is excited to share the #1 ranking from Poets & Quants for Washington University’s MBA entrepreneurship programs for the third year in a row. MBAs play a very active role in entrepreneurship at the Skandalaris Center and many have won awards and funding for their innovation.

Notable MBAs who have recently won funding include Golden Roots Essentials founder, Fanta Kaba (MBA ‘21) with a $50,000 cash prize from Skandalaris’ Global Impact Award, and the following MBAs who recently won $50,000 each through Arch Grants awards: Halo + Cleaver founders Rob Garwitz (MBA ’18) and Matt Richard (PMBA ’19), and Honeymoon Chocolates founder Cameron Loyet (PMBA ’21).

“Our MBAs have such drive and creativity,” said II Luscri, Managing Director and Assistant Vice Provost for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, “This ranking is well-deserved considering the number of new ventures started by WashU MBAs. We continue to see MBAs go on to grow amazing startups, and we are very proud to be part of their journey.”

According to the October 25th news release on Olin’s blog, written by Kurt Greenbaum:

For the third consecutive year, WashU Olin placed #1 on Poets & Quants ranking of MBA entrepreneurship programs. Indeed, “this year it wasn’t close at all. You all won by a lot,” according to one person connected with P&Q’s ranking process.

The online business school news journal debuted the ranking in 2019 and each year Olin’s entrepreneurship program has ranked #1 (see the 2019 story here and the 2020 story here).

“I am beyond gratified—but not surprised—to learn that WashU Olin’s MBA entrepreneurship program has again topped the Poets & Quants ranking,” said Mark P. Taylor, dean of Olin Business School. “Our decisive claim on that ranking this year is a testament to the priority we place on sparking the entrepreneurial spirit in our students. We count entrepreneurship among Olin’s four pillars of excellence, and we take care to imbue that spirit throughout our course offerings and programs.”

Following publication of the site’s ranking, editors from Poets & Quants planned a livestream event at 11 a.m. CT today to formally unveil the results and interview Dean Taylor and Doug Villhard, professor of practice in entrepreneurship and academic director of the entrepreneurship platform.

Then, on November 17, P&Q has lined up a daylong series of livestream events focused on entrepreneurship education. Events include a panel discussion with several Olin students and alumni who are startup founders.

Decisively leading the pack

“It’s hard for any one school to stay on top for three consecutive years, particularly in a field that has seen many schools double down on their commitments to entrepreneurship,” P&Q wrote in its ranking story. “But Olin pulled off a three-peat with little difficulty.”

The P&Q ranking was based on an analysis of 16 components of a school’s entrepreneurship program. They included dimensions such as the number of startups launched, available elective courses in entrepreneurship, students in entrepreneurship clubs, the percentage of MBAs taking related courses and the percentage of faculty teaching related courses.

WashU Olin placed first in only two of those dimensions. As P&Q wrote: “WashU won top honors for having the highest percentage of MBAs launching companies (2017-2020), and the highest percentage of MBA students involved in a startup this past year.” Given that showing, Olin’s first place overall suggests steadiness and consistency across the P&Q methodology, rather than significant ups and down across categories.

“It doesn’t speak to any one thing. It speaks to a culture of innovation and an entrepreneurial spirit that’s infused throughout the school,” Villhard said. “That’s really fun. I think about getting your degree here and taking any class here. Our class is so diverse, so our startup founders are so diverse. It makes for really rich ideas that makes us a special place.”

Innovating within innovation

WashU Olin topped the list with a total weighted score of 100. Babson College in Wellesley, Massachusetts, took second with a score of 82.67. Rounding out the top five in P&Q’s ranking were Rice University in Houston; ESADE in Barcelona; and IE Business School in Madrid.

Olin’s program benefits by its connections within the school and across the campus, including a strong collaboration between Villhard and II Luscri, managing director of WashU’s Skandalaris Center for Interdisciplinary Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Luscri is also Assistant Vice Provost for Innovation and Entrepreneurship for WashU.

“I’m proud of and thankful for the leadership Doug, II, and the entire Olin team provide in this area,” Taylor said.

That collaboration has led to innovations in the program, some implemented only in the past year. They include new courses such as Innovation for Healthcare, Innovation for Defense and Acquisition Entrepreneurship. Another new course, aimed at star student startup founders in the digital and tech space, is known colloquially as “The League,” an accelerator of ideas that features coaching from Olin’s “Mount Rushmore” of the most successful WashU graduates in the field.