Is Carnegie Mellon a good university to go to if you plan on working for or building a startup? That's the question I was recently asked by somebody from the Quora team. I'm frequently asked similar questions because I started a company out of CMU that never moved out of Pittsburgh even after it was acquired by Google. Following another brief conversation about this on Twitter today, I decided it would be good to have an open discussion about startups and CMU. I'll start with my personal opinion, but hope that others pitch in.
Personally, I think CMU is a great place to start a company. Granted, I'm biased because things worked out for me, but here are some objective reasons why I think more people should be starting technology companies out of CMU:
1. Talent Pool. CMU graduate and undergraduate students are truly world class. The computer science PhD program is ranked #1 by USNews, and according to my recruiter friends, CMU is the #1 or #2 school by quantity of hires from companies with uber selective hiring standards such as Facebook or Google.
2. Less Competition for this Talent. I won't claim that CMU students are strictly better than students from e.g. Stanford, but I will claim this: the competition for hiring a top student to join a startup at CMU is much much lower than at comparable schools in California or Boston, since it's not the case that everybody and their mother has a startup in Pittsburgh (last time I went to Silicon Valley, even the guy that served me at Starbucks, who overheard my conversation with a VC friend, started pitching me his company!). At CMU you'll have your pick of top talent to start a company with.
3. Opportunity for Different Ideas. Don't get me wrong, I love Silicon Valley. But it always strikes me when I go there how much everybody thinks exactly the same as each other (most even dress the same as each other). While some herd mentality is ok, I think there is huge benefit to being outside of that bubble.
If I were to start another company, I would do it out of CMU.