Growing Backstage

Backstage Capital has invested in 100 companies led by exceptional, world-class, yet underestimated, founders at a fast pace. These were primarily angel-sized checks for early-stage startups. We’ve scaled our team to 22 people to support our portfolio and operations as we continue to launch ambitious, new initiatives.

We’ve become a bit of a lightening rod for attention and support around diversity, inclusion, and representation in tech. Organizations seek input from our leadership; investors look to us for deal flow they haven’t had access to; and we field a lot of interest from highly-accomplished professionals looking to provide mentorship to underrepresented founders.

We’re working hard to channel all this energy — ripe with hope and empowerment — into actionable, real world change.

We’re on a mission to grow representation and capital.

After we hit our goal to invest in 100 companies 1.5 years ahead of schedule in 2018, we decided to focus on 2 new strategies to help more founders succeed, and to participate in the upside of that success in order to continue making an impact. Now that both have been announced, we can share more about how we’re thinking about this growth.

Strategy

Photo by Claire Lee.

It’s About Damn Time

We launched the “It’s About Damn Time” fund to invest larger checks into later-stage startups, and we also decided to maximize impact for a specific subset of founders who are currently overlooked and undervalued. Investing $1M in startups led by Black Women is an initiative to grow the support we’ve already been giving these founders to help them get to their next funding milestone, since there’s a great need for leadership there in the investment industry.

Here are some stats to put the potential impact of this fund into perspective.

  • 0.2% of venture funding goes to Black Women.
  • Black Women received 0.0006% total tech venture funding raised since 2009.
  • The median funding raised by Black Women is $0.

Source: ProjectDiane by digitalundivided.

Contrast those bleak facts to the impact Black Women are currently having on popular culture — from music to movies to sports. Black Women are the most educated segment within the US population, and the fastest growing group of entrepreneurs. This progress was achieved in the face of incredible challenges, including lack of access to capital and racial and gender discrimination. This group of entrepreneurs are intelligent and fierce, and we’re expecting great returns from our investment in the very best Black woman founders.

Backstage Accelerator

Now, we’ve launched Backstage Accelerator, which supports underestimated founders with local programs around the world, starting in 4 cities in Spring 2019. Accelerator sets the stage for the exponential growth of our impact. It allows us to continue to invest in a broad scope of founder demographics, sectors, and company stages to best serve our target market, and maximize our returns.

One of the core values of Accelerator is: Success for All. We know that we can’t fix representation in tech alone. We need to help local ecosystems evolve. We need to help connect early- and late-stage investors and founders. We believe that investing in underestimated founders will lead to success for founders, teams, investors, local communities, and entire demographic groups.

The Vision

These efforts combine to create a global, multi-pronged investment portfolio, which will ensure Backstage continues to grow as a leader, not only in representation, but also in economic power. Founders in the Backstage portfolio, our “Headliners”, illuminate a huge strength of our network: it’s a community like no other — where hustle, talent, and inclusion make us stronger together.

Damola Ogundipe, Civic Eagle

“Being part of the Backstage community unites us with underestimated founders that are audacious, brilliant, and unrelenting in their pursuit of excellence. It’s special to be part of something so much bigger and more meaningful than even the company you’re growing.”
It’s only a matter of time before the world sees the undeniable value and wealth we’re already generating.

Ramona Ortega, My Money My Future

“It is so much more than the investment with Backstage, it is being part of a movement that will change the ecosystem, with the growth of Backstage and the portfolio. We are a collective and each one of us will make the whole so much stronger. We are what’s next.”

Sheena Allen, CapWay

“Backstage isn’t just an investment group. Honestly, Backstage is family. They connect us to other resources, the other founders in the portfolio look out for each other, and the Backstage team goes above and beyond.”

We’ve got a lot of work to do today, but we can see a bright future in which Backstage continues to flourish. It’s just a matter of time before the rest of the world catches on to the value we’re enabling, capturing, and growing. Are you ready to join us? Get involved.


Are you a founder who identifies as a Woman, Person of Color, and/or LGBTQ+? Apply.
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