Masters' programs - tomorrow is our business

The first HEC Paris entrepreneurship barometer reveals that a quarter of its alumni start their own business

25 Mar 2015

After surveying a panel of 8,500 alumni from its various programs, HEC Paris reports on the spirit of enterprise driving its graduates.

Entrepreneurship-barometer-HEC-Paris-2015 -start-up-business

Entrepreneurship has always been a strategic priority for HEC Paris. Over the years, this has taken multiple forms: teaching, research, support, awareness on campus, hosting structures such as HEC Incubator, etc.

HEC has been developing several initiatives in this area for over 30 years and now looks back on its actions, giving an insight into the very heart of its entrepreneurs' journeys.

HEC Paris is the first business school to conduct a study of this scale. The survey was thus conducted on 8,500 graduates of various programs (Grande Ecole, MSc, Specialized MA, MBA, and Executive MBA), and included both recent graduates and those who left the university ten years ago.


Entrepreneurship is fast-growing within the HEC community

  • Business creation has never been so dynamic. Today, 25% of HEC graduates are entrepreneurs. This rate has been rising constantly for ten years. One of the major factors driving HEC graduates to innovate is their desire to create and come up with new business models.
  • The youngest graduates (Grande Ecole "pre-experience", MS, and MSc programs) develop a strong appetite for entrepreneurship, with a rate of almost 20% of entrepreneurs from the first year after graduation – a number three times higher than the national average.
    Encouraged by the many activities offered on campus (teaching programs, entrepreneurs' testimonies, Creativity Talks, Incubator, Pitching project events, etc.), students can let their creativity run free and no longer hesitate to bring their projects to fruition, often before they even earn their degree.
  • Businesses created by HEC graduates are robust and show strong potential for development. Around 25% of HEC entrepreneurs turn to fundraising, more than double the national ratio (Entrepreneurship Barometer 2013).  The companies created have solid business models, and their survival rate after 3 years is 80%. Finally, they often benefit from the support of Business Angels or investors. 
  • HEC entrepreneurs work within networks or teams. Only 36% of HEC graduates started up their structure alone, compared with 71% at national level (ministerial data from 2013). This figure has fallen constantly every year. This is explained in particular by these entrepreneurs' desire to work as a team and to extend the relationships built on campus. Another reason for this positive trend is the increase in the number of projects requiring dual skills (e.g. engineer/manager) - projects which are encouraged at HEC with dual degrees and partnerships formed at the Plateau de Saclay.
  • Lastly, the businesses created span a large number of sectors: B2B services, the digital economy, and media, but also the construction industry, tourism, and retail.  This diversity can be explained by the many partnerships formed with prestigious institutions such as the École Polytechnique, Mines ParisTech, SupAéro, Ponts ParisTech, and Télécom ParisTech.

See the entrepreneurship barometer results in full: