I saw Arlan Hamilton speak during PDX startup week but I’ve been following her for just under a year after first reading her post Dear White VCs, If You’re Reading This Its Almost Too Late. She’s a VC and she speaks all the truth and lives it when it comes to investing in diverse founders (read: people of color, LGBT founders, and women).
In 2014 venture capitalists invested nearly $1.33BILLION in 976 SEED deals. I would argue that in 2015 there needs to be something around 50 DEALS in minority-led startups. There’s an entire ecosystem of newly educated minority coders and marketers and writers and financial wizards who are brilliant and nuanced and have different backgrounds and opinions and feelings…and all of that will inevitably lead to staggering innovation and profit. If you’re still doing sound bytes for TechCrunch and VentureBeat talking about how many black friends you have, or Periscoping yourself bumpin’ that new Lil’ Wayne joint in your million $ office, but aren’t writing checks to black founders — and checks the same size as your other deals at that — you’ve dropped the ball, my friend.
If you haven’t read it skip this post and just go read that. It’s worth it.
Listening to her speak is absolutely refreshing. I legit fan girled when I saw her speak because she just nails it. She calls out the industry. She gives advice that you haven’t heard over and over again. She’s reflective. And she’s fucking funny (VCs – not exactly known for their humor). Above all she’s real and she’s actually doing the hard work to invest in underrepresented founders. So yeah, I fan girl hard for her work.
Which is why the news that her company, Backstage Capital, is now featured on Gimlet Media’s podcast, Startup, made me positively giddy. My podcast list is crowded. Listening to a VC talk isn’t really my idea of good content (the convos seem to lack all sense of personality). And my podcast list is crowded.
But I made room for this one.
Because Arlan is right. She’s right about what she’s doing. And she’s working her ass off to do it.
BONUS: An apprentice at Backstage, Chacho, wrote a solid article on how to get into VC. I worked a lot with aspiring VCs at Yale SOM, coaching them on how to do it. So many students just wanted to know where the jobs are posted but VC doesn’t at all work like that. Chacho’s advice sums it up so well. So if you’re working with interested students, no matter their academic background, send this their way: Advice to Aspiring Venture Capitalists