VC firm invests only in underrepresented founders

Melinda Gates: We need 'more diverse teams'

Five years ago, Arlan Hamilton set her eyes on becoming a venture capitalist in “the land of opportunity” she called Silicon Valley.

But as a queer black woman, she found the industry wasn’t in her favor.

“I tried earnestly and with wide eyes,” Hamilton told CNN Tech. “But I just got doors slammed in my face. Nobody was interested.”

Hamilton, then 34, also struggled to afford a place to live. Even as she tried to set up meetings with potential partners, she spent nights on the floor of the San Francisco Airport.

Later that year, her first investment came through. She started Backstage Capital, a firm dedicated to funding underrepresented founders who identify as LGBTQ, women and people of color.

Since its launch in 2015, the company said it has invested over $2 million in more than 50 startups. This includes ShearShare, a platform that connects stylists to salons, and Astral AR, an augmented reality piloting system for drones. Its goal is to reach 100 founders by 2020.

arlan hamilton

Starting her own fund meant facing a system that has not been fair to people of color, especially black women. According to a study by researchers from Babson and Wellesley colleges, female CEOs receive 3% of all VC funding. Meanwhile, black women founders made up only 0.2% of all VC deals between 2012 to 2014, according to #ProjectDiane. The study, which published last year, examined more than 60,000 startups in the U.S.

“I realized that [access to] opportunities were only for certain people. If anyone else wanted in, they’d have to create their own access and their own experience,” Hamilton said.

“I said, ‘I could not do this, but then I won’t see any change. If they wont let me in, I’ll start my own league.'”

Backstage Capital has since attracted support from Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield and Marc Andreessen, an investor in Twitter, Skype and Facebook.

Related: Tech’s diversity efforts are ‘a failure’

Starting her “own league” wasn’t and still isn’t easy. The few black women founders who receive VC funding get significantly less of the pie. The average amount of money for a failed startup raises $1.3 million, but the average black female founder received $36,000, the #ProjectDiane study showed.

Part of the battle is explaining diversity can be good for business, said Hamilton. For example, companies with female founders saw 63% higher returns than companies with all men did, one study showed.

“It’s not about “helping” founders,” she wrote in a viral Medium post called “Dear White Venture Capitalists: If you’re reading this, it’s (almost!) too late“. “It’s about fueling an untapped ecosystem so that you may be lucky enough to reap the rewards in years to come.”

Hamilton said she’s still optimistic about the future.

“We’ve been uncomfortable our whole lives and the generations before us,” she said. “It’s okay to make others uncomfortable [sometimes]. I’ve been dancing on the boat for years, and I’m still here.”

CNNMoney (San Francisco) First published November 6, 2017: 3:26 PM ET

The following two tabs change content below.
Nino Plevnik
I am in the Internet marketing area for some time now. I mostly deal with Affiliate Marketing and Domain Flipping. It took me a while until I figured it out. Now I want to transfer my knowledge to beginners, so they can start earn money online as quickly (and painlessly) as possible.
Nino Plevnik
About Nino Plevnik 83 Articles
I am in the Internet marketing area for some time now. I mostly deal with Affiliate Marketing and Domain Flipping. It took me a while until I figured it out. Now I want to transfer my knowledge to beginners, so they can start earn money online as quickly (and painlessly) as possible.


  1. I loved as much as you will receive carried out right here.
    The sketch is attractive, your authored material stylish.
    nonetheless, you command get bought an edginess over that you wish be delivering the following.
    unwell unquestionably come further formerly again since exactly the same
    nearly a lot often inside case you shield this increase.

  2. Have you ever thought about adding a little bit more than just your articles?
    I mean, what you say is valuable and all. However imagine if you added some great visuals or
    video clips to give your posts more, “pop”! Your content is excellent but with images and video clips,
    this website could definitely be one of the most beneficial in its niche.
    Wonderful blog!

  3. I’m really enjoying the design and layout of your website.
    It’s a very easy on the eyes which makes it much more pleasant for me to come here and
    visit more often. Did you hire out a designer to create your theme?
    Superb work!

  4. Heya i’m for the first time here. I found this board and I find It really useful & it helped me out
    a lot. I hope to give something back and
    help others like you aided me.

  5. Very nice info and right to the point. I am not sure if this is really the best place to ask but do you folks have any ideea where
    to employ some professional writers? Thank you 🙂

  6. HUhSTd Wonderful blog! I found it while surfing around on Yahoo News. Do you have any tips on how to get listed in Yahoo News? I ave been trying for a while but I never seem to get there! Cheers

  7. I am glad for commenting to let you be aware of of the fantastic experience my cousin’s daughter found checking yuor web blog. She noticed a wide variety of issues, including what it is like to have an awesome helping heart to get many people just fully grasp certain grueling subject matter. You actually exceeded people’s desires. I appreciate you for churning out those valuable, trusted, informative and as well as unique guidance on the topic to Ethel.

  8. Howdy! This article could not be written much better! Reading through this
    post reminds me of my previous roommate! He continually kept preaching about this.

    I most certainly will forward this post to him. Fairly certain he will have a great
    read. I appreciate you for sharing!

  9. I together with my guys were actually digesting the excellent secrets and techniques located on the website and so unexpectedly I had a terrible feeling I had not thanked you for those tips. The guys appeared to be absolutely happy to read all of them and already have surely been making the most of them. Thank you for being indeed considerate as well as for picking out variety of helpful information most people are really wanting to know about. My sincere apologies for not expressing appreciation to earlier.

  10. When I initially commented I clicked the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and now each time a comment is added I get four emails with the same comment. Is there any approach you possibly can take away me from that service? Thanks!

  11. Thank you so much for providing individuals with a very breathtaking opportunity to read from this web site. It is often very superb and also packed with a lot of fun for me personally and my office friends to visit the blog not less than thrice every week to see the latest stuff you will have. Not to mention, I’m certainly impressed with all the dazzling hints served by you. Some 4 facts in this posting are honestly the most beneficial we have had.

  12. Definitely believe that which you said. Your favorite reason seemed to
    be on the internet the easiest thing to be aware of.
    I say to you, I certainly get annoyed while people think about worries that they plainly do not know about.
    You managed to hit the nail upon the top and also defined out the
    whole thing without having side-effects , people can take a signal.

    Will probably be back to get more. Thanks

  13. I am typically to blogging and i really recognize your content. The article has actually peaks my interest. I’m going to bookmark your web site and maintain checking for brand new information.

  14. I wish to express my love for your generosity for men and women that really need help with this particular area of interest. Your special commitment to passing the message all-around came to be wonderfully helpful and has truly allowed associates like me to realize their pursuits. Your new warm and friendly recommendations signifies so much to me and even further to my office colleagues. Regards; from each one of us.

  15. An fascinating discussion is value comment. I think that it is best to write more on this matter, it might not be a taboo topic but generally individuals are not sufficient to speak on such topics. To the next. Cheers

  16. I simply wished to say thanks once more. I am not sure the things that I would’ve handled without the actual pointers revealed by you on this industry. It was actually a real intimidating situation for me personally, but observing your expert avenue you resolved that made me to cry for contentment. I’m just grateful for your help and in addition hope that you realize what a great job you have been providing teaching some other people via a blog. Most probably you’ve never got to know all of us.

  17. Nice post. I be taught one thing more challenging on totally different blogs everyday. It’s going to always be stimulating to read content material from different writers and observe a bit something from their store. I抎 prefer to use some with the content on my blog whether or not you don抰 mind. Natually I抣l offer you a hyperlink on your net blog. Thanks for sharing.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.