I’ve been working in, on, and around venture funded startups for the past two decades and then some. And yet, I’ve never quite seen anyone manage to take the traditional myopia of venture capital head on. And win. But then there’s Arlan Hamilton. Who’s doing just that.
If you’re not familiar with Arlan, you should be. Her take on investing in underestimated startup founders—founders who happen to be women, people of color, and/or LGBTQ—has totally sparked change in the VC community. In a very short time.
Diversity is core to who we are at Backstage. Arlan Hamilton, our Founder, is a Black gay woman who recognized early that underrepresented founders were being overlooked and underestimated. Investors were leaving money on the table. At Backstage, we’ve put this thesis to work and invested in 100 companies led by underestimated founders (in our case founders who identify as Women, People of Color, and/or LGBTQ). Every company in the Backstage100 exemplifies “grit” and does more with less.
And now, she’s doing more than just investing. Her firm Backstage Capital is launching a series of startup accelerators.
Backstage Accelerator will support founders in two key ways. We will invest $100K into each company in exchange for 5% of company equity. Our unique approach will focus on helping talented underestimated founders succeed in the long-term. For example, we believe there are many opportunities to extend a startup’s runway.
Accelerator founders will be prepared to raise additional capital from VCs, as well as generate early revenue and path to profitability. Additionally, Microsoft for Startups is proud to invite all participating B2B startups to its program, ensuring the founders have the world-class technology, support, GTM and sales resources they need to succeed. Together, we’re looking forward to learning as we go, and serving the Backstage 100 and new cohort companies for years to come.
So that’s all cool and all, but what does this have to do with the Portland startup community? I’m glad you asked.
Backstage Accelerator is launching local programs around the world to help underrepresented founders succeed. We’ve chosen the first 3 cities: Philadelphia, Los Angeles, and London.
Now it’s your turn to vote for the 4th city to launch in Spring 2019!
What if Portland were that fourth city? What would that do to the dynamic of creating a more inclusive and equitable startup community, with intention rather than just talk?
I’d like to find out. I’m wondering if we can rally enough support to make this happen. I think we can. I believe in you. And I believe in us as a community. And I know that our community can always use more support for the amazing startup founders who live here.
So why not consider casting a vote for Portland as the home for a Backstage Accelerator?
Or maybe you should take the chance to apply to the Backstage Accelerator.
For more information, read Announcing Backstage Accelerator.