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To challenge the notion that startup founders should have background in the field of technology to build a startup company, iPrice Group conducted a focused study in SEA markets to determine if fields of study and level of education influence their success as founders and co-founders. In the Philippine startup scene, the results suggest that business and social sciences are the two most common fields of study among Philippine startup founders. Interestingly, more founders and co-founders took their bachelor’s degree in the “Big 4” Philippine Universities and later pursue a higher degree abroad.
Top 6 are all top-tier universities
After examining all 54 startup founders and co-founders’ education background, there is a pattern for attending top-tier universities. Meanwhile, out of the 31 startup companies on the list, only 7 made a successful exit: OLX.ph, Chikka, Airborne Access, Netbooster, Xurpas, I-remit, and Morphlabs.
The “Big 4” universities of the Philippines: Ateneo De Manila University, De La Salle University, University of Santo Tomas and University of the Philippines dominated the top 6 list with a total of 32 founders and co-founders.
Ateneo De Manila University leads at 12 founders and co-founders. Storm Technologies, Wolfpac Mobile and I-Remit have 2 Atenean founders and co-founders each namely Peter Cauton and Paulo De La Fuente of Storm Tech; Myla Villanueva and Ray Espinosa of Wolfpac Mobile; Bansan Choa and Ben Tiu of I-remit. Ateneo De Manila University’s most notable founder is Nix Nolledo of Xurpas.
Following the lead, De La Salle University, have 9 founders, its most prominent founder, Raymond Racaza is the only founder in the list with two companies- Xurpas and Xeleb Technologies. Airborne Access’ Jay Fajardo is also one of its notable alumnus alongside with Wilson Damarillo of Morphlabs and Bansan Choa of I-remit who also studied in Ateneo De Manila University.
In third place, University of Santo Tomas have 6 founders and co-founders with no pattern in terms of alma matter common in a single startup company (for founders and co-founders on the list). University of Santo Tomas’ most prominent co-founder is Alexandra Roxas of Chikka Asia.
One founder/co-founder behind, University of the Philippines is in fourth place with five founders and co-founders. OLX.ph’s RJ David and Airborne Access’s Tony Abello are its most prominent alumna and alumnus.
For international universities, most in the top 6 and top 7 list are dominated by American Universities. New York University tied in third place with the University of Santo Tomas and Harvard University place fifth with each 6 and 3 founders and co-founders respectively.
Level Up! founders and co-founders: Ben Colayco, Phil Cahiwat and Syam Devineni are all from New York University. New York University’s most prominent co-founder on the list is Yoram Heller of Morphlabs.
Harvard University founders and co-founders did not show any pattern in terms of alma matter common in a single startup company. Harvard’s most prominent founder on the list is Dennis Mendiola of Chikka Asia.
The runners up, for seventh place with two founders each are University of Southern California, London School of Economics, Columbia University and Santa Clara University.
Interestingly, most founders and co-founders in the top 6 and 7 list attended university more than once for another university also in the top 6 and 7 university list. (Please see the annotation in the infographics as stated above)
Number of Bachelors, MS and MBA in the Top 6 Universities
In terms of the level of Education, out of all the 31 founders and co-founders in the top 6 universities list, 26 took their bachelor’s degree in the Big 4 universities of the Philippines while the other 5 founders and co-founders all studied in New York University.
For Masters Degree, Ateneo De Manila University produced 3 founders and co-founders, namely Mario Jordan Fetallino of Acudeen Technologies, Peter Paul Cauton of Storm Technologies and Ben Tiu of I-Remit while only 1 founder and co-founder each in New York University and Harvard University- Alexandra Roxas of Chikka Asia and Ralph Manalo Wunsch of Metro Deal, respectively.
For MBA, Ateneo De Manila University and Harvard University produced 2 founders and co-founders each more than any university on the list- Bansan Choa of I-remit and Noel Martin Baustista of Tsikot both for Ateneo De Manila University; Miguel Perez of Ayannah and Dennis B. Mendiola of Chikka Asia Inc both for Harvard University. Meanwhile, De La Salle University and New York University have 1 founder and co-founder each, Esther Magleo of Paynamics and Syam Devineni of Level Up!, respectively.
Out of all the top 6 universities, only University of Santo Tomas didn’t have a founder and co-founder with MS or MBA degree in the university.
Local Universities vs. International Universities
Despite the lead of the “big 4” universities in the top 6 university list, international universities are more common in the Philippine startup founders and co-founders. After accounting all the founders and co-founders (regardless if not from the top 6 university list), the results suggest a split 40 and 41 founders and co-founders with international education on lead. While there are more founders and co-founders who finished their Bachelor’s degree in Philippine universities, international universities dominated for the most number of MS and MBA as most founders and co-founders pursue higher education abroad.
Non-tech majors are the most common field of study for Bachelor’s Degree
After analyzing all the startup founders and co-founders fields of study (regardless if not in the top 7 universities) for their bachelor’s degree, Business dominated the 7 most common fields of study with 32% followed by Social Sciences with 28%, and tied on the 3rd placed are tech and engineering with 12.5% each.
Economics, management and computer science are the most common Bachelor’s degree for social sciences, business and technology fields of study with 10.71% for economics and 8.92% each for management and computer science.
Financial services which is the most common startup industry 8 (Coins.ph, Paynamics, Ayannah, Dragon Pay, Mynt, I-Remit, MoneyMax.ph and ecomparemo) out of the 31 on the startup list, are developed mostly by founders and co-founders with background in social sciences and business fields of study:
- Paynamics– Ronald P. Magleo (De La Salle University- Bachelor of Entrepreneurship), Esther Magleo (University of Santo Tomas- Bachelor of Accountancy and De La Salle University MS in Accountancy) and Mylene Chua Magleo (Polytechnic University- Bachelor of Accountancy);
- Ayannah– Miguel Perez (Ateneo De Manila University- Bachelor of Management and AB Development Studies)
- I-Remit– Bansan C. Choa (De La Salle University- Bachelor of Commerce);
- ph– Moritz Gastl (Maastricht University- Bachelor of Internationl Business) and Rahul Maira (Delhi University -Bachelor of Economics);
- Ecomparemo– J.P Ellis (Columbia University- Bachelor of Political Science and Government)
Only three founders on the financial industry startups have computer science background; founder and co-founder of Coins.ph, Ron Hose (Cornell University- MS Computer Science) and Runar Peterson (University of West Florida- Bachelor of Computer Science); founder of Dragon Pay, Robertson Chiang (Ateneo De Manila University- Bachelor of Computer Science).
Additional editorial notes: Rappler has reached out to us to provide a correction regarding co-founder and CEO Maria Ressa’s educational background: “We just wanted to clarify that Maria completed her undergraduate degree at Princeton University where she is an alumnus – not the University of the Philippines. She taught there [at UP] briefly but did not graduate from there. You can refer to her Rappler profile, Wikipedia profile, LinkedIn profile and her official website links.”
For more details on this study please visit iPrice Group Insights.