Arlan Hamilton has built a venture capital fund from the ground up, while she was homeless. She is the Founder and Managing Partner of Backstage Capital, a fund that is dedicated to minimizing funding disparities in tech by investing in high-potential founders who are of color, women, and/or LGBT. Started from scratch in 2015, Backstage has now invested nearly $5m into over 80 startup companies led by underestimated founders. she is the only black, queer woman to have ever built a venture capital firm from scratch.
“It was crazy to me that 90% of venture funding was going to white men, when that is not how innovation, intelligence, and drive is dispersed in the real world,” she tells me. “I had no background in finance, but I just saw it as a problem. Maybe it’s because I was coming from such a different place that I could recognize it.” -Interview with Fast Company
This past June, Hamilton announced that Backstage had exhausted its first three seed funds, doling out between $25,000 and $100,000 to 100 startups in everything from beauty products to business analytics. And at all 100, at least one founder is a woman, person of color, or someone who identifies as LGBTQ. Now Hamilton is gearing up for Backstage’s next chapter, a $36 million fund dedicated exclusively to black women founders, a demographic that’s glaringly absent in Silicon Valley. Hamilton is hoping that her fund will be able to drastically impact and sustain the economic wealth of African Americans for many generations to come.