Backstage Capital Unveils First Cohort Of Accelerator Program For Underestimated Founders (Women, People Of Color, Or LGBT)

By Amit Chowdhry ● March 15, 2019

Los Angeles-based Backstage Capital venture firm specializes in investing in early-stage companies led by founders who identify as women, people of color, or LGBT. Arlan Hamilton, the founder of Backstage, said she identifies as all three. And Backstage Capital recently unveiled the details of its first accelerator program cohort.

The cohort is spread across four cities: Los Angeles, Philadelphia, London, and Detroit. The Detroit cohort will be led by Monica Wheat (Managing Director), Tapan Kataria (Director), Amanda Lewan (Program + Mentor Liaison, Backstage Detroit), and Olivia Guterson (Program + Community Liaison). The London cohort will be led by Andy Ayim (Managing Director), Anisah Osman Britton (Director), and Andy Davis (Director). The Los Angeles cohort is being led by Anastasia Tarpeh-Ellis (Managing Director), Amiah Sheppard (Director), and Greer Engonga (Director). And the Philadelphia is being led by Liz Brown (Managing Director), Allen King (Director), Thom Webster (Relationship Manager), and Aniyia Williams (Special Advisor).

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The program lasts about three months and each participating startup receives a $100,000 investment for 5% equity. During the mentorship program, the participating companies will be introduced to investors and help address the needs of the underestimated founders.

Microsoft and Mailchimp are providing these companies with a number of resources. For example, Microsoft is offering Azure credits to the companies.

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Here are the companies participating in the program:

Backstage Detroit

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Alerje – Food allergy management platform (founded by Javier Evelyn)

CrowdFreak – Digital platform that provides artists with performance opportunities around the world (founded by Curtis Mckinnon, MBA and Oyin Abatan)

Foodstand – Helps individuals and organizations turn wellness goals into lifelong habits through team challenges (founded by Rachna Govani)

Healthy Roots – Inclusive toy company that creates inspiring dolls and storybooks full of Black Girl Magic to empower young girls (founded by Yelitsa Jean-Charles)

Naturalicious – A collection of multi-tasking and non-toxic hair care that helps busy women style their hair in a fraction of the usual time (founded by Gwen Jimmere)

Bippy (pre-launch) – A company that makes eco-friendly toilet paper made out of bamboo (founded by Lisa Frame)

Casting de Khrysopoeia – Offers on-demand jewelry design and manufacturing that brings your ideas through concept, CAD, 3D printing, and assembly (founded by Karissma Yve)

Backstage London

Afrocenchix – Organic and vegan products for Afro and curly hair sold directly to consumers as shops like Whole Foods (founded by Joycelyn Mate and Rachael Twumasi-Corson).

Trim-It – App-powered mobile barbershop (founded by Darren Tenkorang)

Gal-dem – Media company for and by women non binary people of colour (founded by Liv Little)

Vitae London – A watch brand that uses part of their profits to support education for children in Sub-Saharan Africa (founded by William Adoasi)

Tambua Health – Medical technology company that turns smartphones into non-invasive screening tool to help diagnose Lower Respiratory Tract Infections in Africa (founded by Lewis Wanjohi and Daniel Warui)

Backstage Los Angeles

Adventurely – A one-stop-shop for solo travelers making trips way more fun (founded by Mita Carriman)

Lacquerbar – A feminist focused salon experience powered by an elite nail technician education platform called Lacquerbar U. (founded by Heli (Rodriguez) Prilliman))

Lorals – Natural latex wearable designed for pleasure (founded by Melanie Cristol)

Optimal Solar – An efficient solar module available that provides optimal clean and reliable electric solutions (founded by Dr. Reginald P.)

SnapStays – Marketplace of thousands of furnished homes for business travelers (founded by Eric Dominguez and Ed Hsieh)

Unomi – SaaS for animators and video game developers (founded by Obi Onyejekwe)

Backstage Philadelphia

Dressmate – A peer-to-peer clothing rental marketplace for college students (founded by Jennifer Simons)

Hale – A connected vaporizer pen that helps you quit nicotine (founded by Josh Israel, Devin Serago, Jeff Domenighini, Zafer Balbous, Sabrina Ko, and Pedja Markovic)

Please Assist Me – Reliable assistants that help with day-to-day chores (founded by Seany Denson and Stephanie Cummings)

Tressenoire – Create an amazing beauty experience for women in the convenience and privacy of their home or office (founded by Octavia Pickett-Blakely and Regina Gwynn)

WashLB – An app-based mobile car care service that provides location- and subscription-based amenities (founded by Harry Michel and Kelly Ireland)

WhoseYourLandlord – WYL features millennial-focused apartment listings, landlord reviews, community insights, and neighborhood engagement (founded by Felix Addison, Nikita Korablin, and Ofo Ezeugwu).