Which companies produce the most business founders?


Starting a business can be a daunting task, but some companies seem to breed entrepreneurs more than others.

This latest study from business financing provider OnDeck looked at those companies with an outstanding track record of producing entrepreneurs and business founders.

Let’s get into it

Founder factories

US management consulting firm Bain & Company has produced the highest percentage of business founders, according to OnDeck’s research. The study shows that 8.13% of the firm’s former staff are now highly successful business owners or entrepreneurs. 

They include billionaire businessman Steve Cook. After a successful stint as a Bain & Co exec, Cook co-founded financial software giant Intuit, known for products like QuickBooks and TurboTax.

Tech founders

The tech space is a hotbed of innovation and entrepreneurship. So it’s no surprise that many business founders cut their teeth as execs at big-tech firms like Google, Meta, and Twitter.

The former Twitter employees have had the most success since flying the nest; just over 6% of them now run their own firms.

Setting up your own gig

Working at a top media or music company like EMI Music is a dream job for many. But after a few years in their roles, some execs feel like they can put on a better gig. 

Just over 7% of former EMI music execs are now business founders; that’s the highest percentage of founders coming out of large media companies.

Famous founders from finance

Former employees of Wall Street giant Goldman Sachs are the most likely to create start-ups. Around 1 in 20 are now their own bosses.

Wall Street produced one of today’s most famous and successful founders, Jeff Bezos. Before he started selling books online, Bezos worked as a hedge fund analyst at D. E. Shaw & Co.

Grabbing the wheel

4.3% of former Porsche Cars North America execs weren’t happy being backseat drivers. So they decided to travel a different road by starting their own companies. 

Super-genius and serial founder Elon Musk isn’t inspiring many of his management team to launch their own venture. In fact, just 2.95% of people who left Tesla are now business founders.

Retail founders

3.24% of people who once worked for Nike thought they could “Just Do It.” And they were right. They’re now running successful start-ups and business ventures.

But that only puts Nike in 11th place on the list of retail companies that produce the highest percentage of founders. The race was won by Nike’s big rival, Reebok. Just under 5% of former Reebok employees are now the top dogs at their own companies.

Hospitality founders

Long hours, weekend shifts, and a never-ending procession of customers ‘enquiries.’ This is the reality for those brave souls who decide to forge a career in hospitality. 

Some are even braver, going on to run their own hotels, restaurants, entertainment venues, and travel firms. 

But before that, they learned the ropes at some of the biggest US hospitality firms. Of those, the Aspen Ski Company is the most prolific founder factory in the hospitality sector (4.19%)

If you’re stuck in a middle-level exec role but dream of being the boss, then just remember, everyone has to start somewhere. 

In the meantime, soak up all the experience you can. Because you’ll need it when you’re finally the one in charge.

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