Arlan Hamilton on Starting a Venture Capital Fund for the Underestimated, Minimizing Funding Disparities, and Having the Resilience to Not Give Up

Arlan Hamilton built a venture capital fund from the ground up, while homeless. She is the Founder and Managing Partner of Backstage Capital, a fund that is dedicated to minimizing funding disparities in tech by investing in high-potential founders who are people of color, women, and/or LGBTQ. Started from scratch in 2015, Backstage has now raised more than $7 million and invested in more than 130 startup companies led by underestimated founders. In 2018 Arlan co-founded Backstage Studio which launched four accelerator programs for underestimated founders in Detroit, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and London.

In this episode you’ll hear:

  • Arlan’s journey from being broke to investing in 100 companies led by unrepresented founders. (2:57)
  • The mindset and impact of someone raised in a home with abundant love, laughter and support but unsure where the next meal or roof would be. (6:53) 
  • Arlan shares the moment she knew would make the vision come to fruition, while pacing a parking lot hotel in Texas. (13:42)
  • Step by step how she went from the parking lot to $15 million raised, 170 companies invested in over a six year period. (17:01)
  • The vision for Backstage and how investors made decisions based on how someone looks and her strategy to go after the underestimated founders. (24:11)
  • Arlan speaks openly about the “pipeline” problem in the investor space and why it is not a real factor. (28:40)
  • Even though she asked for her story to not focus on “rags to riches,” when the headline came out she was surprised by the response. (31:42)

Connect with Arlan:

Buy Arlan’s book: It’s About Damn Time

Invest in Backstage:

Arlan’s Academy: 



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