Arlan Hamilton is a remarkable entrepreneur who built a venture capital fund from the ground up, while homeless. She is the Founder and Managing Partner of Backstage Capital, a venture capital firm dedicated to minimizing funding disparities in tech by investing in high-potential founders who are people of color, women, and/or LGBT. Backstage has now raised $20 million and invested in nearly 200 startup companies led by underestimated founders and has been featured in Forbes, Fortune, Wall Street Journal, CNN Money, Inc., Entrepreneur, and Quartz.
Arlan made history by making the cover of Fast Company as the first Black woman non-celebrity to do so, and her book “It’s About Damn Time” is out on Penguin Random House’s business imprint Currency. She and Backstage Studio were also the subjects of Season 7 of the popular Gimlet Media podcast, StartUp. Arlan now hosts "Your First Million", a weekly podcast featuring in-depth conversations with how the world's most successful people finessed their first million dollars, customers, or downloads.
Arlan entered the venture investing world from an unconventional path. Before launching Backstage Capital, she authored the groundbreaking blog "Your Daily Lesbian Moment", which she grew to a monthly readership of 50,000 fans worldwide. She has written for AOL, SuicideGirls, and Curve Magazine, and founded and published the internationally distributed indie magazine Interlude. Arlan was also a live music production professional, having served as a tour coordinator to numerous international artists including Toni Braxton, and Jason Derulo. Most recently she worked with Atlantic Records recording artist Janine.
In 2018, Arlan co-founded, along with Investment Partner Christie Pitts, Backstage Studio, a new venture studio designed to build products, services, and initiatives that serve the mission of eliminating underrepresentation in tech by empowering founders and their teams to succeed. Arlan was recently named on Fortune magazine’s 40 under 40 list, as well as, Vanity Fair magazine’s The 2018 New Establishment List.
In 2019, Arlan and her mother, Mrs. Earline Butler-Sims, announced their new scholarship program, which kicked off with Oxford University's first-ever undergraduate scholarship for a Black student, as well as a commitment to fund a full-ride scholarship for a Psychology student at Mrs. Sims' alma mater, HBCU Dillard University.
In 2021, Arlan and Backstage Capital launched one of the first equity crowdfunding campaigns that allowed people to invest in a venture capital firm. The initial raise maxed out at $1.07 million in 9 hours, and once the goal was raised to $5 million after the SEC changed the maximum limit, the campaign sold out in less than a week.
Later that year, she also launched her company Runner, an operations and HR talent source for inclusive startups. She was inspired to build it after encountering her own challenges to hire an EA. Runner connects growing startups with people who can provide operational support on an as-needed basis.
Arlan's favorite tv show is General Hospital, and her favorite musician is Janet Jackson.