YSYS is live Backstage

Thursday 15th February I had the pleasure of hosting YSYS Roundtable with the amazing Arlan Hamilton Founder and Managing Partner of Backstage Capital; a fund dedicated to minimizing funding disparities in tech by investing in high-potential founders who are of colour, women, and/or LGBT. Started from scratch in 2015, Backstage has now invested nearly $5m into over 80 startup companies led by underestimated founders. Their most recent investment is Flora, a tech startup focused on curated green content, founded by music artist Kehlani.

During the Roundtable underrepresented founders and aspiring investors from YSYS had the opportunity to pitch to Arlan for feedback and seek advice on how to get into Venture Capital. Heres what we learnt:

Advice for startups pitching:

  • Explain what your technology does in simple terms.
  • Know your customers inside out.
  • Keep an eye on your competitors, and learn from their successes and failings.
  • Highlight what traction you have to-date.
  • Share the reason why you started working on the problem you are trying to solve.
  • Avoid saying what you plan to do, instead explain what you have done!

Advice for aspiring investors:

  • Pay close attention to founders with life experience — those who have overcome things in their life with just few resources; this is more valuable that the school they attended.
  • Not every startup aspires to be a unicorn.
  • Success is relative and varies for everyone, for some it’s an acquisition for others its steady income.
  • Once you’ve raised your first fund it gets easier to raise the rest.
  • Remember you’re not always going to be liked by everyone.
  • Remain logical, fair, collaborative, honest, authentic and bold.

Arlan’s visit not only was a fantastic learning opportunity for the YSYS community, but also for London’s tech scene as a whole, as her visit highlighted the importance of diversity and inclusion in the startup community and the need for us as a collective to come together. I could go on for this for days, but Anisah pretty much sums about exactly how I feel HERE

Massive shoutout to all the startups who pitched…

  1. Africlick: social discovery app for African & Caribbean professionals & creatives.
  2. Cashmere: the smart savings app built to help fashionable millennials save towards and own luxury fashion goods guilt-free.
  3. Whipgo: rent vehicles from local rental companies across the UK. Drive from small city cars and saloons to super cars and vans.
  4. Driverse: the world’s first workplace review website for under-represented communities in the workplace.
  5. Suvera: a new experience for everyone to easily manage their medications.
  6. Survey 54: an on-demand survey platform with a focus on emerging markets in Africa.

…. and those who attended and made the Arlan’s visit an unforgettable moment in London’s startup community: Prisca, Urenna, Abi, Andy D, Flo, Andy A, Ebi, Rene, Ivan, Stephen, Abadesi, Dayo, Ray, Amy, Rodeny, Ana, Rashide, Check, Nafisa, Alex, Huckletree, Balderton Capital, Diversity VC, Ustwo, Mills, Meetra, and Anisah.

For snippets of the day follow us on Instagram at @thisisysys