Three years ago, a queer, Black, homeless woman was not supposed to be able to launch her own venture capital fund.
Yet here is Arlan Hamilton, who is shaking the well-ordered trees of private equity with her Backstage Capital. First capitalized by an early female Silicon Valley angel investor in fall 2015, Hamilton is adding much needed perspective and dollars to conversations around tech inclusivity.
Her message is clearly one of urgency. In addition to growing an investment firm with an 80-company portfolio, she’s pushing forward with micro experiments too — she has created Twitter buzz by putting out $500 gifts to small ideas from underrepresented founders.
Hamilton’s point isn’t just one of morality but of business sense. Business ideas, brilliant founders and bold innovations go fallow without diversely representative deal flow. Based in Los Angeles but a frequent speaker and jetsetter, she is an ideal headliner for Philly Tech Week 2018 presented by Comcast, the eighth annual rendition of our calendar of events kicking off next week.
Critically Hamilton wants to find ways to engage deeply in the places she visits, and given Philadelphia’s majority-minority status and its tech community’s efforts to be among the best at inclusivity, we at Technical.ly wanted to make sure she got the biggest stage.
So first, she’ll be part of our keynote conversation closing our inaugural Introduced conference on Thursday, May 3. Hamilton will also be taking meetings during the day and while here.
But wait, there’s more! Hamilton will be joined on stage by two other major venture capital luminaries, all offering their views on how business communities will thrive in the future. This conversation, which I will moderate, features two others who have shaken the investment world in their own way.
Fifteen years ago, it was altogether improbable that a quirky, sneakers-clad Wharton grad could grow a best-in-class venture capital firm headquartered in Philadelphia. Yet you know the story of how Josh Kopelman took a string of hot-shot early internet companies and parlayed it into Silicon Valley chic.
Twelve years ago, it was not a good bet that the group that would break into the national consciousness for replicating tech startup acceleration would have started in Boulder, Colorado. Given the male dominance of the country’s investor class, it might be more improbable still that the managing director charged with launching its next pilot of a corporate accelerator would be a woman. Yet Techstars has done just that, and it is Maya Baratz who is leading the Lift Labs partnership with Philly’s Comcast NBCUniversal.
In their own way, all three rattled what startup investing is supposed to be. They saw trends others didn’t. We’ll learn a bit more about how that came to be on Thursday, May 3. Join us.