Dealflow | September 6, 2018

Arlan Hamilton’s Backstage Capital launches accelerator for diverse startup founders

Jessica Pothering
ImpactAlpha Editor

Jessica Pothering

ImpactAlpha, September 6 – The Backstage Accelerator for diverse founders is launching in four cities: Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and London; the fourth city is TBD.

Arlan Hamilton: The VC taking cold calls from underestimated entrepreneurs

Arlan Hamilton started Backstage Capital three years ago to help entrepreneurs underrepresented in typical venture capital portfolios—women and LGBTQ founders and founders of color—secure critical early funding. The venture firm funded its 100th startup and launched its second fund earlier this year. Backstage’s first fund seeded startups with $25,000 to $100,000 at a time. Fund two aims to invest $1 million per company.

Backstage’s approach of launching funds followed by an accelerator is the reverse of what often happens with entrepreneurial ecosystem builders. “We’ve attempted to be the scout for diverse founders of these [top] accelerators. After seeing 3,000-plus companies [apply for funding], I felt we were ready to do it ourselves,” Backstage founder Arlan Hamilton told FastCompany.

On Twitter, competition has begun to be the fourth city to get the accelerator. “So here’s the thing,” tweeted Sherrell Dorsey, journalist and founder of the media venture The Plug and Charlotte’s BLKTECH Interactive tech hub, “Charlotte is the best city for @ArlanWasHere @Backstage_Cap accelerator. No debate.”

Cincinnati fired back. “With all due respect, Cincinnati is #1 and there’s no debate,” tweeted Mortar’s Derrick Braziel‏. “Does Charlotte have @hill7org? @weareMORTAR? @StartupCincy @cintrifuse?”

The four-city accelerator is looking to enroll six startups per city, beginning in spring 2019. The companies will each get $100,000 in seed funding in exchange for a 5% equity stake.