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arlan Hamilton

Arlan Hamilton: Built a Venture Capital Fund While Homeless


This episode was recorded in front of a live audience at the 2019 Sharjah Entrepreneurship Festival, an incredible get-together that’s been running for 3 years… Each of those 3 years, I’ve been invited to do a When Women Win interview live on stage. It’s when I first met the Melltoo founders, a hilarious husband/ wife entrepreneurial team; where I interviewed Donna Benton – one of Dubai’s most successful entrepreneurs EVER, and this year’s guest was a remarkable human who flew over from Los Angeles to join us…

Arlan Hamilton built a venture capital fund while homeless. She is the Founder and Managing Partner of Backstage Capital, a fund that is dedicated to minimizing funding disparities in tech by investing in high-potential founders from underrepresented groups.

Started from scratch in 2015, Backstage has now invested nearly $7m into 130 startups led by underestimated founders. Arlan has been featured in Forbes, Fast Company, Fortune, Wall Street Journal, CNN Money, and was recently named on Fortune magazine’s 40 under 40 list.

We talked about Arlan’s journey, from sleeping rough to building a multi-million dollar fund. We discussed the underrepresented founders she invests in and what she has learnt from them; advice for entrepreneurs and investors; and the two factors she has found that often differentiate the more successful start-ups from the rest. We talked about looking after yourself as well as others, and how to cope with the immense stress of having others – families – relying on you. We talked about Arlan’s podcast “Your First Million”, her upcoming book “It’s About Damn Time”, the meaning of failure and the impact of success.

There were so many fantastic quotes – here are just two:

  • “Investors should invest in start-ups led by people who have a little bit of a chip on their shoulder”
  • “The seed doesn’t see the petal”

Arlan had two book recommendations: her own book which is available on pre-order, to be released in May 2020 😊 “It’s About Damn Time”, and The Memo by Minda Harts.

You can find Arlan on Twitter and Instagram @arlanwashere.

Please do get in touch with the team at When Women Win and let us know what you think of this episode or the show in general. You can reach us via InstagramLinkedIn – or the web contact form. Thank you!