Despite the success stories and contributions of Black entrepreneurs to the tech industry, they still face significant barriers in securing venture funding. According to TechCrunch, in Q3 of 2022, only .43% of nearly $43 billion in venture funding went to Black founders. This funding disparity is not only unjust but also a missed opportunity for investors to tap into a wealth of diverse talent, ideas, and potential for innovation.
Several factors contribute to the lack of venture funding for Black founders, including a lack of access to networks, bias and discrimination, and systemic issues such as the racial wealth gap. Many Black founders must rely on personal savings, loans, or crowdfunding to get their businesses off the ground, limiting their capacity to scale and compete with more well-funded counterparts.
However, there are individuals and organizations working to change this, including Arlan Hamilton and Backstage Capital. Hamilton has emerged as a powerful leader focused on investing in historically excluded founders. She’s been recognized as a trailblazer on Fast Company’s 2022 Queer 50 list and shares her knowledge in her podcast “Your First Million,” a behind-the-scenes guide to earning your first million dollars, downloads, or customers.
“We invest in the very best founders who identify as women, People of Color, or LGBTQ. I personally identify as all three.” – Arlan Hamilton
Since 2015, Backstage Capital has invested more than $20 million in 200 startup companies led by founders of color, women, and/or members of the LGBTQ community. The firm provides not only funding but also mentorship, resources, and access to networks to help these founders overcome the obstacles they face. Backstage Capital has also launched programs such as the Accelerator and the Scout Program to support early-stage startups and discover new talent from diverse backgrounds.
Through her work, Hamilton is showing that investing in founders historically excluded from financing is not only the right thing to do but also a smart business decision. Backstage Capital’s portfolio includes successful companies such as Incredible Health and Calendly, which have reached unicorn status (a privately held startup company achieving a value of over $1 billion), as well as Goodr and Planet FWD, which are using technology to make a positive impact on people’s lives.
Furthermore, Hamilton is partnering with organizations like AnitaB.org to provide additional investment opportunities to historically excluded founders through programs like PitcHER™. The 2023 PitcHER™ competition will provide women and non-binary entrepreneurs of early-stage technology startups across all industries the chance to compete for VC funding. Backstage Capital will provide a total of $100,000 in investment capital split among the top three finalists, including an Audience Favorite. The top 6 finalists will compete at GHC 23 and receive registration, travel, and lodging accommodations. As a finalist, you must be available for the PitcHER competition at GHC 23 in Orlando, FL from September 26 to September 29, 2023. The PitcHER competition is a unique opportunity to support Black women and other historically excluded groups in tech and to help close the funding gap.
If you’re ready to pitch your start-up at GHC 23 and potentially fund your amazing idea, submit your application today! Applications are open until 8PM ET April 14, 2023. Join Arlan Hamilton and AnitaB.org in investing in Black women’s history and creating a more equitable future for all.
Read more posts from the thread Inclusion in Tech: A Ticket to Freedom, with Awalin Sopan