Financing Black tech startup founders and others overlooked by venture capital

Interview date:

February 1, 2021

Arlan Hamilton

Venture Capitalist
Backstage Capital

Arlan Hamilton is Founder and Managing Partner of Backstage Capital, a venture capital firm in Los Angeles. Founded when Arlan was homeless, Backstage Capital invests in tech companies led by Black founders and founders from what Arlan describes as "under-estimated" groups: women, people of color and members of the LGBQT community.

As a Black, gay woman, Arlan has overcome many obstacles in her life. Yet through it all, she has stayed true to herself: challenge the status quo, be entrepreneurial, and don't be afraid to create something that should exist even if it doesn't. To date, Backstage Capital has invested more than US$10 million, raised more than US$13 million and invested in more than 150 companies.

"I learned both anecdotally and through stats that 90% of funding in that world goes to white men. As a Black woman, it immediately gave me pause. It did a lot of things. It pissed me off. It angered me. It confused me. It saddened me. But it didn't deter me. What I said was "Okay so these are the facts. Let me lay them out. Less than 10% of funding goes to anybody who isn't a white man in this country. What if there was a fund that did the opposite. So I spent the last decade first researching and than executing on this thesis."
Arlan's self-help book
Arlan on the cover of Fast Company magazine


  • Encourage kids to pursue tech in the context of their passions.
  • Fight for equal opportunity and equal access.
  • Combat Imposter Syndrome by teaching kids self-esteem and confidence.