Arlan Hamilton noticed early on that the startup industry was rooted in doing things a certain way, and that underrepresented entrepreneurs and founders trying to launch companies — “people who were not white men” — were being turned down by investors more frequently.
As a gay black woman, Hamilton started Backstage Capital, a venture-capital firm, in 2015 from scratch to invest in companies led by underrepresented founders — women, people of color, and LGBTQ people.
The goal was to “shake up that status quo” and give a voice to those groups, Hamilton told Business Insider.
Since 2015, Backstage has invested an estimated $5 million in more than 100 companies, Hamilton says.
While plans to raise a $36 million fund have taken longer than expected after a couple of “anchor” investors fell through, Hamilton hopes to attain the target in the next year or two. The goal is to create a fund devoted to investing exclusively in black female founders, who currently earn less than 1% of all venture-capital funding.
In March, Hamilton handed over the CEO reins of the firm’s operational arm in order to focus on raising capital, working with founders and serving as an “ambassador” to promote the