After launching a $36 million fund earlier this year to help support black female founders, Backstage Capital isn’t showing any signs of slowing down. Today, the fund’s founder and managing partner Arlan Hamilton announced that it will launch an accelerator to further amplify and support the best companies led by underestimated founders.
The four cohorts will be located in Philadelphia, London, Los Angeles and a fourth city to be determined through a public vote.
“We decided on Los Angeles because the ecosystem is really prime for it,” Hamilton said onstage today at Disrupt SF at Moscone West. “There is just the most diverse group of founders and types of companies they’re building. There is a lot there to pull from.”
With London, Hamilton said she visited the city a few times and was blown away by the founders and the interesting challenges they face there.
“There is a lot of money and a lot of investors, but it reminds me of three years ago in Silicon Valley,” she said. “It’s a melting pot of a city and we can pull from different parts of Europe as a launching pad. And there are several groups of African founders who found their way in the ecosystem in London who are doing great things with great resources but are being overlooked.”
But it was Philadelphia that served as location inspiration.
When Philadelphia is thinking about what it means to become a tech city, it’s not about “how do we retrofit this Silicon Valley model, but more so how do we use technology to do what Philadelphia does best,” said Aniyia Williams of Tinsel and Black & Brown Founders, who was onstage with Hamilton.
Williams will spearhead the Philadelphia chapter of the accelerator to provide more resources for founders there.
“It’s our privilege to be helping out with the Backstage Accelerator. We’ve been thinking through an ecosystem of how to support founders,” Williams said. “Philadelphia has one of the highest poverty rates of American cities and one of the highest populations of poor black and Latinx people. So for us it’s about closing that wealth gap to address inequity in tech. There needs to be more active participation from everyone.”