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Backstage at 36|86: Arlan Hamilton

Have you ever had a dream you just can’t shake? Maybe you know where you want to go, but you can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel because it’s covered by all the obstacles standing in your way. We know someone who can relate.

Just a few years ago Arlan Hamilton was pursuing her dream of starting a venture capital fund for female, minority and LGBTQ founders. And she had obstacles – like not having enough money to afford a bed for herself, let alone enough to fund the overlooked entrepreneurs that kept her up at night. Now, Arlan is one of the most important VCs in America. How? She chose to be unstoppable.

We’re thrilled that Arlan will take the stage at 36|86 Entrepreneurship Festival this August. As the founder and managing partner of Backstage Capital, a venture capital firm investing more than $5 million in 80+ startups with diverse founders, Arlan isn’t in the business of underestimating anyone or any idea. At 36|86, she’ll tell us how Backstage Capital is tapping into what she sees as the biggest opportunity in investment—and how it’s paying off.

Why We’re Crazy About Arlan

Persistence, persistence, persistence
Arlan Hamilton can teach us all a lesson in persistence. Since Arlan first set her eyes on a goal that has now become Backstage Capital, she has gone from being homeless to being one of America’s most important VCs. She did it through self-education on the Internet, putting herself out there to connect with startups and other VCs and what she calls ‘dogged determination.’

Investing in diversity
Not only does Backstage Capital invest in diverse founders, but also in the wide range of industries they’re disrupting: from fashion to virtual reality to educational platforms. One of Arlan and Backstage Capital’s most recent investments is in Nashville-based startup Please Assist Me, a mobile platform for personal home assistants, founded by Stephanie Cummings and Seany Denson.

What’s next for the VC?
Arlan isn’t planning on slowing down anytime soon. In late April, Backstage Capital announced the launch of a $36 million diversity fund that will invest exclusively in black, female founders, $1 million at a time. Some are calling it a diversity fund; she calls it an “It’s About Damn Time Fund.”

Fun fact
When Arlan isn’t working with some of the nations most promising founders, she’s managing a tour for Atlanta Records artist Janine or binge watching General Hospital – what she considers the greatest show on television.

Hear more from Arlan and other trailblazers at 36|86!

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