What the Founders of Facebook, Snapchat and Home Depot Have in Common
They were all brothers—technically speaking.
Uber. Snapchat. Dropbox. Lyft. Blue Apron. EventBrite. Warby Parker.
All of them are private companies valued at $1 billion or more. But their valuations aren’t the only thing these so-called unicorns have in common: they each have at least one founder who was part of a fraternity.
Greek life, particularly in recent years, has been criticized for its promotion of binge drinking, hazing and other bad behavior. At the same time, it’s also been instrumental in the development of some of today’s best-known businesses. Take Evan Spiegel, who developed the wildly successful app Snapchat with two of his Kappa Sigma brothers at Stanford. Spiegel had a leadership role at the fraternity—he was social chair—before the chapter was kicked off campus for throwing a party where alcohol was served during a university-mandated “dry” weekend. Snapchat likely wouldn’t have existed if Spiegel hadn’t pledged Greek; the concept of a disappearing photo messaging app came out of a conversation between Spiegel and his fraternity brothers about sexting. (Yes, it’s OK to cringe.)
It made us wonder: do Greek organizations, despite their reputations or perhaps because of them, serve as good incubators for entrepreneurship? A 2014 Gallup poll found that could be the case. Of the 30,000 college graduates surveyed, those who had participated in Greek life were more likely to start their own businesses than those who hadn’t.
We reached out to more than 150 social fraternities and sororities in the U.S. and, from the responses we received as well as our own research, compiled a list of 487 Greek members who went on to found their own venture. The database, below, is searchable by any keyword—founder name, university, company or industry.
From Kate Spade to Mark Zuckerberg, check out some of the founders who have left the Greek house to build some of the biggest, most influential companies today.
Read Part I of Fortune’s Greek Life Package: How Tinder Used Greek Life For More Than Just Hookups
Read Part II of Fortune’s Greek Life Package: How Lilly Pulitzer, an Almost 60-Year-Old Brand, Became a Social Media Darling
Read Part III of Fortune’s Greek Life Package: For a Fraternity Treasurer, Managing $100,000 or More Is Par for the Course
In June, Fortune contacted 169 social fraternities and sororities to ask for the names, companies and universities of members who went on to start their own ventures. We independently confirmed all submissions based on available online data. We also conducted our own research based on publicly available data to further build the list.
The list is meant to highlight individuals who participated in what’s traditionally considered Greek life; therefore, we excluded business, honor, professional and secret societies. We also did not include honorary inductees.
The database includes founders and co-founders only; no presidents, CEOs, investors or board members.
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