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This conversation is a snippet from this #Techish podcast episode between Arlan Hamilton founder of Backstage Capital, and Michael Berhane, cleaned up and edited for readabilty sake. I’ve always wanted to know when you first had the idea for Backstage Capital. What was the first thing you did?  Cried [haha] It didn’t happen overnight. I studied, I started my education to understand venture capital. I had to. The old guard, the people who are already there, perhaps they needed a little bit more of a shakeup when it came to

Entrepreneurship can seem like the ultimate catch 22—making progress requires funding, but progress begets funding in the first place. The average seed stage startup is worth over $5M and is bootstrapped by founders for about 2.5 years before the first venture capitalist (VC) invests money to help the business grow. Entrepreneurs of color, however, disproportionately fall short of accessing the necessary capital to achieve the initial traction above. For instance, although the total venture capital investments reached nearly $70B in the U.S. in 2016, companies led by founders of color received

This guest post was originally published at Backstage Capital’s Green Room blog. On a daily basis, I get inquiries on and around the world of venture capital (VC) and Backstage Capital. So, when Mario Avila, an aspiring VC, reached out to me and expressed interest in typing up a few questions that could help many others, I took him up on it. I told Mario I’d answer his questions and post them. In this post, we explore my role as a Principal, diversity in venture capital, portfolio management, and how

Recently Aytekin Tank, founder of JotForm wrote a compelling piece titled, “Why startups are dying left and right.” In this article, he shared the less glamorized view of entrepreneurship where he demystifies the experience. The slow, patient road, at times, bootstrapped, always tough, riddled with lessons from failure and prioritizing profit over growth. I shared this article with the community at ustwo Adventure. It was encouraging and enlightening to see some of the common strands that resonated with this collective of ‘less glamorized’ entrepreneurs. In this article, I have shared the top 3 of

We are so used to the narrative of the starving artist, or the former star crashing and burning, I thought it would be interesting to take a look at those hip-hop artists using tech to buck the trend. The ones who have been wise enough to capitalize on tech’s slow coup-ted of every industry. The ones who have been investing in startups, raising capital and founding their very own. This is far from the canonical list, and I’ve missed out on many others [honorable mention to Chamillionaire, and of course Dr.

“I was the only black person in a room full of middle aged white investors and fellow white entrepreneurs pitching for investment. Of course it felt awkward, of course I was nervous, of course I didn’t feel as if I belonged.” The account below was a story shared with me by one of the readers of my content who has grown to become a friend. He is an entrepreneur building AI for the Recruitment industry and shares a true to life experience below that many people of colour can relate

As a founder, I’m sure you’ve heard ‘build for the long term,’ ‘focus on the long-term’ or some variation of this? As an advisor, you’ve probably given this advice to a founder, haven’t you? ‘Well, stop it!’ ‘Focus on the long-term’ is a trope that advisors, investors and successful founders tend to throw about. What these advisors don’t know is that when a founder is told this, she thinks You, the advisor, aren’t being empathetic know nothing about the founder’s context. You, the investor, are just repeating something you’ve either

I recently had the privilege to attend a special event at the Rutgers Business School, a demo day for Black and Latinx founders that had completed a pre-accelerator program. From The Black and Latino Tech Initiative(BLT) and CUEED Pipeline to Inclusive Innovation,  there were a total of 26 graduates.  By the end of the event, I was left with two conflicting feelings – a sense of empowerment and disappointment. Empowerment: In the technology and investment world, we’ve been made well aware through many sources about the diversity problem. You can

Tell us about your career up to this point. It’s been quite nonlinear. My first job was as a reporter covering arts and theatre for the local edition of a national newspaper in Bangalore, India (where I grew up) at age 19. It was interesting because I knew nothing about arts and theatre. I was studying to be an engineer at the time. My first full-time job after graduating from college was as an engineer at JP Morgan Chase — I worked in a project management team that designed and

12–18 months after raising some money from friends & family or a seed round, many of the founders I talk to shift from product/market fit questions to fundraising concerns. After trying to dissuade them from going this route (and failing most of the time) I point out the self-sabotaging actions that reduce their chances of raising venture capital. Why do I try to dissuade these founders? Because they lack the understanding that a venture backed firm serves several masters and the growth expectations (that help the VC determine return multiples) can

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