Arlan Hamilton, founder of Backstage Capital has been chipping away at the lack of diversity in venture-backed businesses for some time now. Back in 2020, her Venture Capital fund published a 5-year retrospective report on the impact it has been able to make and the community it has built. The work ultimately led to Arlan landing a book deal and getting her first title “It’s about damn time” published by Penguin. On Tuesday, she did one better. Arlan opened the door to retail investors across the United States, allowing them to back the vision that she and her co-General Partner, Christie Pitts set around backing women, people of color, and LGBTQIA+ founders, with as little as $100 through the crowdfunding platform Republic.
As expected, the response was overwhelming and the target was met on day 1 of the campaign by over two thousand retail investors, with subsequent demand being waitlisted.
Investing in diversity now also seems to be making waves on the other side of the Atlantic, with Ada Ventures also closing a $50M fund (end 2020) with a similar view to investing in underrepresented founders in the United Kingdom. The Seed fund is led by the formidable team of Francesca Warner and Matt Pennycard who had previously worked together at Downing Ventures. Ms. Warner is also credited with founding Diversity.VC, a not-for-profit based out of London, aiming at improving the diversity quotient in Venture Capital. Arlan has a 5-year track record with her US-centric portfolio of 160 companies. By opening up the fund to retail investors she has busted open the myth of Venture Capital being the preserve of the wealthy and introduced a diversity of investors into the system too. Looks like she is working on diversity at the input end with investors as well as the outcomes with diverse backed businesses being funded. The future has never looked more colourful.