FounderDating Identifies Most Entrepreneurial Alumni Networks

Scott Francis
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This Friday I thought we’d turn to the fun topic of alumni networks and entrepreneurs.  Not that this is a scientific study, but FounderDating looked at where their membership comes from to see which Alumni network has the most entrepreneurial intent

That got me thinking, there are a lot of lists out there: “Great Places to Work” or “Most Innovative Companies”, but few have looked at how entrepreneurial the alumni networks of different companies actually are.  We decided this would be super interesting to figure out. FounderDating is a curated network – people apply, we literally screen and reference everyone and then invite a sub-segment to join. Submitting an application means you have high entrepreneurial intent – either you have or you really want to start something. Using this as a key indicator of entrepreneurial intent, we crunched the data (over 100K data points). What we found may surprise you…

And yes, I’d say it surprised me (and lots of other people):

FounderDating Rankings

Look at the Austin representation here.  Two of the top 3 are based right here in Austin.  And wait- Trilogy was #3?  We’re talking about a company that never had more than 1500 employees at one time.  This isn’t per-capita-weighted.  And most of the Trilogy Alumni left the company more than 10 years ago, many of them have already started their businesses and likely aren’t joining FounderDating.  And yet.  #3.

The Trilogy alumni network has been surprisingly strong as a community.  We’re still hosting conferences for alumni 10 years later, and reunions.  We start companies together, and in some cases start families together.  So why haven’t you heard more about Trilogy’s alumni network?

What’s Trilogy you say? One alum described their network as “the Paypal mafia without as much money.”  Alums have started companies like Zocdoc, MassRelevance, Capital Factory, H.Bloom and Bazaarvoice. And it seems that last one has come full circle.

That’s pretty much it.  Without the liquidity event, Trilogy Alumni have had to go elsewhere to earn a stake that could then be invested in their startups. Or they’ve had to help other founders achieve their dreams first (almost every company you can think of in Austin has depended on Trilogy alumni in key roles). Or they’ve had to take VC money to get started. But regardless of the path, there have been a lot of startups.  Not all of them tech startups, either.  I’m not surprised how many companies are started by Trilogy Alumni, I just didn’t realize that it was happening at such a high rate compared to other companies I would consider just as innovative as Trilogy.

When Lori Hawkins wrote “the Trilogy Effect” it just scratched the surface. At a gathering in 2011, 39 of 104 attendees were either CEO or co-founder of their current employer.  Many of the rest were CXO or VP’s running critical parts of the business.

This FounderDating post happened to show up just as I was visiting a few alumni friends out in San Francisco.  One about to start something new, one who has just sold one company and about to start the next thing, and one who is incubating new startups.  All three among the finest people I could imagine to work for or with.  No doubt there will be a few more startups to chalk up to the alumni network.