Arlan Hamilton

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Arlan Hamilton, founder at Backstage Capital and, is a serial entrepreneur, author, and prolific speaker.


She founded Backstage Capital in 2015 to invest in founders who are people of color, women and/or LGBTQ. Since its founding, Backstage has raised nearly $30 million and invested in 200 startups led by underestimated founders. Arlan is also the founder of, a startup that connects outstanding employee talent with inclusive companies. 


Arlan published her book, “It’s About Damn Time,” in 2020, detailing her journey from homelessness to venture capital trailblazer. Arlan also hosts the popular podcast “Your First Million”, and in 2018, was the first non-celebrity Black woman to grace the cover of Fast Company magazine. Arlan's latest book, "Your First Million: Why You Don't Have To Be Born Into A Legacy Of Wealth To Leave One Behind" is available for preorder and will be out on January 2nd, 2024.


Arlan is a big proponent of paying it forward and supporting other underestimated people in the tech industry and beyond. She’s a limited partner in 27 funds led by emerging, underestimated managers, and she and her mother, Mrs. Earline Butler-Sims, have established scholarship programs for Black students at Oxford University, HBCU Dillard University, and Harvard Law.


Speaking Topics:


Write Your Own Headlines

Arlan Hamilton, founder at Backstage Capital and, is a serial entrepreneur, author of “It’s About Damn Time", and master multi-tasker. Despite not having a background in finance or venture capital, she has raised millions of dollars in funding for over 200 companies and has become a leading advocate for diversity and inclusion. Hear her remarkable journey from homelessness to successful venture capitalist and entrepreneur, and be prepared to be inspired to write your own headlines.


Being the Change You Want to See


Breaking Rules While Breaking Ground


Black Women in Tech


Bootstrapping a Venture Capital Fund

Arlan Hamilton's Experiences

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“We loved having Arlan. She has an amazing stage presence and asked so many compelling questions to the startups on stage. We were lucky to have her!”

Annie Fei, Principal Event Marketing Manager, Hubspot INBOUND

“Arlan’s challenge and her enthusiasm set the state and the tone for the rest of the Summit, helping to energize attendees and inspire deep conversations about the future of our profession.”

Kevin R. Keller, CEO at CFP Board

“Arlan was great. Obviously very knowledgeable, honest and candid and challenging in her remarks - while also being inspiring and thought-provoking.“

Tammy Nolen, Development & Communications Coordinator, Center for Economic Inclusion

“Arlan is what's now, and what's NEXT in entrepreneurship.”

Theo Edmonds, UofL Center for Creative Placehealing

“Arlan Hamilton was amazing. She delivered a great message for our joint Pride/Juneteenth event. She was also very personable at the meet and greet.”

Audrey Fernandez-Elliott, PayPal, Inc.

“Arlan was amazing! The audience would've loved to hear more of her backstory , but everything she said was captivating.”

Ki Williams, Hubspot Inc.

“Arlan's fireside chat was immensely impactful.”

Jordan Carlisle, Greater Bentonville Area Chamber of Commerce

“Arlan showed up with enthusiasm, even after a long day of appearances. She was fun, thoughtful, and engaged, volunteering to stay after her talk to chat with members of the audience (over and above her contract.) The audience was thrilled, still talking about the event many days later.”

Lisa Durnford, Venture Out

“We were thrilled! The turnout to hear Arlan's fireside chat was impressive and the audience was very engaged. Arlan is a great speaker - she was articulate, funny, relatable and insightful. We were so glad to have her at our event.”

Alana Davicino, Village Capital

“Everyone absolutely loved Arlan's fireside chat! Her chat was the highlight of our event.”

Charmyse Tillman, gener8tor