Arlan Hamilton is a venture capitalist who champions “underestimated” and “underrepresented” entrepreneurs in technology and other fields.
Born in Dallas in 1980, she founded Backstage Capital to help women, people of color and LGBTQ people who could not get venture capital funding, in a business environment dominated by white male investors. Before founding Backstage Capital, she worked as a music tour manager and founded an independent magazine called Interlude.
With no connections in the venture capital world, and no degree in finance, Hamilton herself was underestimated when she founded her business. Struggling to raise money, she lived with friends, in airports or in her car.
But she succeeded and Backstage grew to invest more than $7 million in more than 120 startup businesses.
In 2018, Forbes magazine named Hamilton to its 40 Under 40 list, and in 2019, Business Insider recognized her as one of the 23 most powerful LGBTQ+ people in the technology field.
Seeking to expand her influence, Hamilton started another venture to launch a $36 million fund specifically for black female founders. It still in the works.
Her goal for Backstage Capital, she said, is to “invest in the very best founders who identify as women, people of color, or LGBTQ. I personally identify as all three.”