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Backstage Tour 2020 Cities

A multi-city, one-day event series bringing knowledge, investment, and connection to underrepresented founders and the ecosystems that help them grow.

🎟 Buy tickets and apply for investment now! Cities and dates listed below.

Since the beginning of Backstage Capital, we’ve been looking for the right time to embark on some kind of tour to directly collaborate with local tech ecosystems. Our Founder + Managing Partner, Arlan Hamilton, has a career history in tour management for music artists, and IRL events have played an important role in our community building and portfolio support to date. And while remote teams (ours included) become more normalized, and more investors are getting wise to potential opportunities outside of major tech hubs, geography still plays a big role in venture funding and support for entrepreneurs. We want to help bridge the gap between investment and underestimated founders, and share learnings across ecosystems to accelerate progress.

We want to bridge the gap between investment and underestimated founders.

When we were exploring cities for our 2019 Backstage Accelerator programs, we spoke with people working hard to help underestimated founders succeed in their local tech scene, and help their ecosystem flourish. We launched a vote to help select our 4th Accelerator city location, and we were blown away by the interest many communities shared! Since then, we’ve been dreaming up ways to reach more cities, founders, investors, and ecosystem builders to leverage our network and access to help support them. We’re excited to share more about Backstage Tour 2020 with you today.


Each Backstage Tour 2020 stop will feature inspiring, actionable, and educational content tailored to each city. Here are some of the core components of the programming.

Education + Connection

In addition to a local ecosystem-focused panel in the evening and time carved out for networking, we’ll be offering premium daytime content prior to the main event in select cities featuring workshops for entrepreneurs and investors and an AMA with Arlan. We’ll be working with City Leaders in each city to customize this content to make sure it’s a great fit for your ecosystem. We’re also going to be sharing some online educational content that ticket buyers can check out before attending the event to get on solid footing in terms of startup and VC knowledge and explore potential goals for the event.


We want to build lasting relationships on Tour 2020. At every stop, after running a full investment process, we’ll select 5 companies to pitch live during the main evening event, and 1 company will be selected to receive a minimum $25k investment (with potential co-investment and partner matching and perks opportunities) and join our portfolio as a Backstage Capital Headliner. Founders can apply via our open application today through March 31.

Book Release

Arlan’s first book, It’s About Damn Time, will be published May 5 by Penguin Random House, and every stop on Tour 2020 will be an official book tour stop. The book is an approachable guide for anyone who’s felt underestimated, offering actionable insights and advice along with anecdotes from Arlan’s inspiring personal story. Arlan will keynote each Tour 2020 event and lead workshops. All Tour 2020 ticket purchases include a hardcover copy of the book, and attendees will get the chance to meet Arlan and have her sign their copy.

National Partners

We could not make the vision of Backstage Tour 2020 a reality without the help of some incredible National Partners.

Mailchimp delivers marketing tools like email campaigns and landing pages. Mailchimp was bootstrapped to over $700M in revenue and now champions the small business underdog. They’ve launched numerous diversity initiatives like the HBCU@SXSW program, Mailchimp University — an MBA-style program developed with Emory University — inclusive mentorship, and an apprenticeship program. We use Mailchimp for our Mixtape newsletter and we love working with their team in Atlanta.

PayPal is a well-known online payment provider on a mission to break down barriers to financial empowerment. They help businesses grow through financial inclusion with programs like PayPal Working Capital and 16-week bootcamps for women returning to the workforce. For 10 consecutive years, they’ve scored 💯 on the Human Rights Campaign Corporate Equality Index, making it one of the best places to work for for LGBTQ+ employees. We’re happy to be working together with PayPal to bring Tour 2020 to more cities.

City and national sponsorship opportunities are available. Get in touch.


And now, for the details you’ve been waiting for! 🍿 Here are the cities we’ll be stopping in on Backstage Tour 2020.

  • May 5 / NYC, NY
  • May 6 / Los Angeles, CA
  • May 8 / Bay Area, CA
  • May 12 / Dallas, TX
  • May 14 / Atlanta, GA
  • May 19 / Washington, D.C.
  • TBA / Miami, FL
  • May 27 / Portland, OR
  • June 9 / Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN
  • June 11 / St. Louis, MO
  • June 18 / Chicago, IL
  • June 20 / Detroit, MI

We’re excited to be working with Venture Catalysts — a non-profit led by Monica Wheat, our Managing Director for Backstage Detroit, that builds inclusive ecosystems through strategic support for entrepreneurship events and growth programs — to coordinate this multi-city Backstage experience.

Thanks for your interest in Tour 2020. Please help share the news, and we’ll have more stories featuring our City Leaders soon. We can’t wait to see you on the road! 🚍💜

🎟 Buy tickets and apply for investment on our official Backstage Tour 2020 page today. Learn more!




Welcome to the Green Room blog. Go behind the scenes at Backstage Capital, where we're betting big on underestimated founders.

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Bryan Landers

Bryan Landers

Idea-stage investor/builder at Make Studios. Venture Partner at Backstage Capital. Banjoist.

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