Backstage Capital, a venture-capital firm that backs underrepresented founders, is launching a new $36 million fund that will invest exclusively in black female business owners, to get the company off the ground. It is officially called a ‘diversity fund’ but the creator and managing partner, Arlan Hamilton, is calling it a “IT’S ABOUT DAMN TIME” fund.
The announcement came at the United States of Women 2018 Summit in Los Angeles, and according to Hamilton, the new fund will award black female entrepreneurs $1 million at a time. The fund aims to bridge the funding divide between investors and black women, as black women have only received 2.2% of the $85 billion invested by venture capitalists last year.
They're calling it a "diversity fund." I'm calling it an IT'S ABOUT DAMN TIME fund.
— Arlan 👊🏾 (@ArlanWasHere) May 6, 2018
Arlan Hamilton noticed the need for a venture-capital like Backstage Capital after a trip to Silicon Valley. “I noticed it was the land of opportunity, but not for everyone. It just dawned on me one day: If I can’t get these investors to take some of the founders seriously just because they don’t look like the last person they invested in, then maybe I should just try to put together some money and make those decisions myself” she told TechCrunch’s Megan Rose Dickey. According to their website, Backstage Capital has invested more than $4 million in over 80 companies led by underrepresented founders thus far.
The companies Backstage Capital invests in are as diverse as the founders. Some of the businesses include Tinsel, a company that creates wearable tech jewelry for women and Kairos, an artificial intelligence company that specializes in facial recognition.
The rumors are true. Today at #USOW2018 I announced that my venture capital firm @Backstage_Cap has launched a $36m fund that will invest in Black women founders $1mill at a time. Thank you to the Backstage Crew, headliners, LPs, mentors & network for making this moment possible. pic.twitter.com/yT1SMQOFAR
— Arlan 👊🏾 (@ArlanWasHere) May 5, 2018
Backsgage Capital plans to invest the $36 million into 15 to 20 companies over the next three years. The first two to three investments will come this year.