How 2016 Wharton MBA Grads Flocked To Uber, Twitter And Start-Up Firms

By Erin Arvedlund

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Start-ups are growing in popularity among Wharton MBA’s. Both New York-based Custora and San Francisco-based Fundbox were both founded by Wharton MBAs where many 2016 Wharton grads now work. In addition, was founded by a Wharton MBA candidate who did not finish the program.

About 10 percent of the Wharton School’s 2016 MBA grads went to work as entrepreneurs — either at businesses they founded themselves or other start-ups — compared with a fraction of Wharton MBAs a decade ago.

Recent alumni of the University of Pennsylvania school are working at such firms as Twitter, Uber,, NerdWallet, Snapchat, Wealthfront, a robo-adviser competing with conventional Wall Street asset-management firms, and the Philadelphia-based, health-care-related Aledade.

Of the 850 students in Wharton’s 2016 graduating class — those who got their degrees between June 1, 2015, and May 31, 2016 — 50 are self-employed or are starting their own businesses, compared with 36 in the Class of 2015, according to the latest survey of MBA hiring and compensation provided by Wharton.

“What we’ve seen is that the number of students joining a start-up or starting a business — the group pursuing entrepreneurship — is about 10 percent of the class. It’s a significant number. Ten years ago, it might have been in the single digits,” said Michelle Hopping, director of employer services, MBA Career Management, at Wharton.

Median base salary for Wharton grads? A solid six figures: $125,000 plus bonuses, the survey showed.

As part of its recent Stellar Startups series, the Inquirer highlighted several Wharton MBA and undergraduate students who have started their own businesses, including Sujay Kumar’s Lilu, Pam Forster’s Forerunner Group, and Rajat Bhageria’s ThirdEye Glass.

How does Wharton funnel some newly minted MBA graduates to start-ups and vice versa? It sends them to Silicon Valley, Hopping said. Every fall, a cohort of about 70 second-year MBAs spends the semester on Wharton’s campus in San Francisco.

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