When she arrived in Silicon Valley three years ago, Arlan Hamilton had one mission: to become a venture capitalist who will fund underrepresented entrepreneurs.
“It was crazy to me that 90% of venture funding was going to white men, when that is not how innovation, intelligence, and drive is dispersed in the real world. “I had no background in finance, but I just saw it as a problem. Maybe it’s because I was coming from such a different place that I could recognize it,” she told Fast Company.
It did not matter that she had no college degree and had no money. For the next few months, she not only sought out many investors, she also spent nights at the San Fransisco airport, in motels, in cars and even on couches. When she was considering her options, she received her first cheque in September 2015 from Susan Kimberlin that would help her create her company, Backstage Capital, which invested in people of colour, women and anyone identifying as LGBTQI.
The demand for these funds are on the rise as Hamilton announced by June this year, Backstage Capital exhausted its first three seed funds. She also announced one of the biggest funds: a $36 million fund dedicated exclusively to black women founders. The fund is rightfully called: “It’s about damn time fund.”
Hamilton decided to focus on black women especially because they are gravely underestimated and she wants to close the gap in funding.
“I also believe that black women are going to make me rich because they are gravely underestimated, and they are creating companies and running companies of massive scale that is being overlooked and ignored,” she said to Forbes.
Her journey has not been without challenges, one of which many black women face- that of having to prove yourself way beyond other non-black people.
“He said I need to be better than everyone in order to be seen as an equal. It is very unfair,” she says of a venture capitalist who was giving her advice over Backstage Capital’s performance.
Her investment seems to be paying off: she had become the first black woman out of entertainment and sports to be featured on the cover of Fast Company magazine.
Is this real life? I’m the October COVER of @FastCompany! Also the first Black woman who isn’t an entertainer/athlete (@Oprah, @serenawilliams, @Beyonce, @LenaWaithe — my favs!) to be on the cover. I never could have imagined this 3 yrs ago? SO grateful. https://t.co/KInpR6TRxr pic.twitter.com/2YlpsILfsI
— Arlan ?? (@ArlanWasHere) September 13, 2018
She was also listed among the top 40 under 40 by Fortune Magazine. She has also been in featured in a number of tech and investment related conferences, where she meets and interacts with underrepresented investors.