How Backstage Capital Founder, Arlan Hamilton Raised $20 Million from Mark Cuban
Arlan Hamilton spent her entire life in and out of homelessness, working low-wage jobs, being overlooked and underestimated. In 2015 she started an investment fund called Backstage Capital. Today it’s worth over $20 million with investors like Mark Cuban, Marc Andreessen and Stewart Butterfield. There are three numbers to watch for in this story: $50,000, Arlan’s first outside investment, $6 million, the total value of her fund and 2, the percent of companies that receive investment from Backstage Capital. Here’s how Arlan Hamilton went from homeless to running her $20 million venture capital fund.CNBC Make It
Who is Arlan Hamilton ?
Arlan Hamilton is an investor and the founder and managing partner of Backstage Capital. In 2015, Hamilton founded Backstage Capital, a fund that invests in “underestimated founders”. Underestimated founders for the fund are defined as women, people of colour, and members of the LGBTQ community. To date, Backstage Capital has raised more than $15 million and has invested in more than 150 startups.
Prior to her venture capital role, Hamilton founded and published the indie magazine Interlude and prior to that, served as tour manager to Atlantic Records recording artist Janine. In May 2018, Hamilton announced her firm would also attempt to raise a $36 million fund specifically for black female founders. Hamilton was the subject of a six-episode series on the Gimlet Media podcast Startup.
Hamilton is mostly complimentary about the podcast series, but did take issue with how she was portrayed, especially in sequences that cast her in an irresponsible light. Hamilton’s Backstage Capital’s podcast The Bootstrapped VC features episodes that are reactions to the Gimlet series.
In June 2019 Hamilton received recognition from Business Insider as one of the 23 most powerful LGBTQ+ people in tech. In May 2020, Hamilton released her first book from Penguin Random House entitled It’s About Damn Time, which is based on her personal journey into entrepreneurship and venture capital.
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