Arlan Hamilton @ArlanWasHere is on a mission with a vision. She is a venture capitalist who defies what conventional wisdom may say a standard VC would look like. She is not white. She is not male. She is African American and she is gay–”really, hella gay,” as she puts it.
Arlan has also broken the mold when it comes to how you see VC firms. Her firm, Backstage Capital, invests in underrepresented founders. At the time of this post, she has invested close to 5 million dollars in 100 women-led, people of color and LGBT companies. Those who fit into one or all of those categories aren’t likely to get funding from the traditional VC firm. Most VC firms have seen these traits as a fast-track to a ‘no decision for investing. Arlan has seen them as an opportunity.
Gimlet media made Arlan’s Backstage Capital VC firm the subject of their Startup podcast series’ 7th season. I listened to all of the episodes because I wanted the full story on what it took to start a venture capital firm and, in Arlan’s case, how she went from sleeping in airports to writing $25k checks out to underestimated startup founders.
Frankly, I was not happy with how Gimlet initially portrayed Arlan. The introduction to her for many who had no previous knowledge of her journey seemingly had them thinking, “Who is this chick, and why does she have such a large staff and cache so early on in becoming a VC?”
I am so glad Arlan and her crew decided to produce a follow-up podcast in step with every aired Startup podcast– to help us understand what Gimlet left out.
What resulted was a more balanced window into Arlan’s VC journey.
I am a huge fan of Arlan and her Backstage Capital team. Their work is no small undertaking, and increasingly folks are taking note. One can’t help but be inspired by and take pride in their fight for those have been traditionally underestimated and underrepresented.
But don’t just take my word for it. Listen and hear/see for yourself. I’ve embedded all the podcast episodes on my blog for your easy access. Do yourself a favor and listen to all of the episodes. Maybe you too will agree it’s about DAMN time there was someone like Arlan to kick open those doors in venture capital that have held worthy startups back for far too long.