Backstage Capital will set up a Philly-based accelerator for underrepresented founders

Philadelphia is one of four cities where the three-month program will operate. Liz Brown has been named director of the local program, which will invest $100,000 in exchange for 5 percent equity.

Arlan Hamilton (right) and Aniyia Williams announce the accelerator program on Wednesday at TechCrunch Disrupt.

(Courtesy photo)

Philly’s ears must have been ringing yesterday as TechCrunch Disrupt was underway in San Francisco: Backstage Capital, the California-based venture capital investing in underrepresented founders, announced it is going into the accelerator business and picked Philadelphia as one of the first four cities where the program will operate.

Backstage Accelerator, a three-month program that will deploy $100,000 in capital into startups from across industries, will take place in four cities: Philly, Los Angeles, London and a fourth city to be determined through an online poll.

Founders who identify as women, people of color, as members of the LGBTQ community or a mix of these and other underrepresented groups can apply to the program by Oct. 15.

“We’ve attempted to be the scout for diverse founders of these [top] accelerators,” like Y Combinator, 500 Startups and TechStars, Backstage founder and managing partner Arlan Hamilton told Fast Company on Wednesday. “After seeing 3,000-plus companies [apply for funding], I felt we were ready to do it ourselves.”

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To lead the Philly accelerator, Backstage tapped entrepreneur and consultant Liz Brown — who led dev shop Webjunto and is now the founder of creative studio Design Jawn — as director. Opeola Bukola, founder of Lillo Consulting was named deputy director, while Thom Webster, a management advisor at BASE Architecture, Planning, & Engineering was named relationship manager.

Aniyia Williams, the San Francisco–based founder of Black & Brown Founders, joined Hamilton onstage for the announcement and was named Special Advisor in Philadelphia. Per a Medium post published by Backstage Capital’s general partner Christie Pitts, Brown “has been actively involved in accelerator planning and development.”

Companies: Backstage Capital
People: Arlan Hamilton
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