THE WAY OF THE FUTURE.
She watches the hell out of General Hospital, writes the ‘L Word’ fanfic twitter page @ModernLWord, but Arlan Hamilton, founder and Managing Partner of Backstage Capital, is an emerging venture fund manager to watch. Especially since what she's trained her investor's eye on is what everyone else is ignoring.
Here are the facts: less than 10% of all venture capital deals go to women, People of Color, and LGBT founders. Other VCs see this as a pipeline problem. Backstage Capital sees it as the biggest opportunity in investment. And they've put their money where the stats are, their second round of funding has just launched and is targeting $36 million in commitments and Arlan foresees the fund investing $1 million checks into 15-20 companies over the next three years.
Dedicated to minimizing funding disparities in tech, Arlan and Backstage Capital are investing in high-potential founders who are of color, women, and/or LGBT. Once homeless, she knows what it's like to have doors closed on you and your dreams. But, she's opening the doors. We suggest you walk through them with her.
She's the way of the future.
Name: Arlan Hamilton
Instagram Handle: @arlanwashere
Business Instagram Handle: @backstagecapital
Where do your drive and passion come from for Backstage Capital?
The mission. The fact that nothing has changed from my original thought, that there needs to be more access to capital for certain people who are being overlooked and underestimated. Until that massive problem is solved, it will fuel the energy that I need to do that.
How have you successfully navigated a male-dominated field?
By asking what a male would do and just giving myself permission to not apologize for being who I am.
What are your hopes for young women looking to get into finance as investors?
I wish it were now, but I hope that the work that I'm doing and the women alongside of me are doing makes it easier for them to enter this field. That's another part that makes it worth it for me, the idea that what we're doing is making it that much easier for the next person.
What would you say is your biggest pet-peeve in business?
Politics. I think a lot is held up and not accomplished because of ego and people trying to play certain personal agendas. A lot could be accomplished if we just focused on what was important.
What are your biggest fears about running Backstage?
That we won't be enough. That we won't be able to raise more and more funding for the very deserving and viable companies that we are backing.
What's something that you would like people to know about your work with Backstage that they probably aren't aware of?
It's much, much harder than it may appear. There's a ton of work that goes into it that it's not seen. I get a lot of feedback from people who think we're okay, that we've made it. When in reality it's a day-by-day, brick by brick, thing.
What about your career makes you feel the most complete?
Having a woman come up to me and say she started a company because she read something about me. Or having a woman of color tell me that because Backstage exists they knew they wouldn't be alone when they came to Silicon Valley or launched a business. So, moments likes that where I know that something is working and I'm inspiring someone.
When you come across a difficulties or bumps in the road, how do you approach them?
I've always been able to self-motivate by seeing into the future and what I think the future might be. Anytime something is rough, which happens a lot. We might be told we were getting $100,000 investment and then the day the wire is supposed to hit, it doesn't. That's a big deal for us. On those kind of days I just think about the fact that I was homeless and I would imagine myself as a VC. There was no question to me that I would be able to make Backstage happen. You have to keep reminding yourself to keep going, you can do this. The way that you fail, is to stop. That is certainty. If you keep going, there's that potential that you win.
If you were to trade jobs with anyone, who would it be?
I think Ellen has a fun job.
At what point in your career did you find the ability to take charge and become the leader that you are today?
I had to have that mentality with everything. When I was working part time doing data entry, working at a pizza shop. I had to have that "I'm the boss" attitude to get through it so I don't know that it happened recently. It started with my mom telling me I deserved to be in any room and shouldn't shrink myself to make someone else feel better about themselves.
"It started with my mom telling me I deserved to be in any room and shouldn't shrink myself to make someone else feel better about themselves."
What is the best piece of advice or #realtalk you've ever been given?
The best piece of advice that I take in come from music. Anyone from Nikki Minaj to Casey Edwards.
What song do you sing in the shower when you've had a really shitty day?
Can You Stand The Rain x New Edition.