Backstage Detroit Reveals First Cohort Of Accelerator Program

By Amit Chowdhry ● Sep 3, 2019
  • Backstage Capital — a venture capital firm that invests in underrepresented founders — has revealed its first cohort of Detroit startups

Backstage Capital — a venture capital firm known for investing in underrepresented founders — recently announced its first accelerator cohort including the Detroit-based program that was set up in partnership with the Quicken Loans Community Fund.

So far, Backstage Capital has invested in more than 100 underrepresented founders of high growth technology and product companies. And the firm is known for investing in founders who identify as women, minority, LGBTQ, or other underrepresented communities.

Backstage had launched its inaugural accelerator this year in 4 cities around the world including Los Angeles, Philadelphia, London, and Detroit. And the venture firm saw over 1,900 applications for the first cohort.

“Detroit is not only the home of entrepreneurial innovation, but a major technological hub with some of the best and brightest minds in the industry,” said James Chapman, the Entrepreneur in Residence for the Quicken Loans Community Fund (philanthropic arm of Quicken Loans). “Our investment with Backstage Detroit is a continuation of our commitment to Detroit entrepreneurs, as we seek to lift up and support promising startups in our hometown.”

The Backstage Detroit accelerator program had previously announced an investment round of $100,000 for each of their 7 startup companies this spring. And the 7 companies received investment and 12 weeks of mentorship and programming for refining their business models for growth out of the accelerator located in Downtown Detroit inside the historic Madison Building. Plus 5 of the 7 companies will receive $10,000 grants to remain headquartered in the city of Detroit and continue to scale their operations.

“We’re thrilled to partner with the Quicken Loans Community Fund and have our accelerator in Detroit, a city full of talented founders who are often underserved by investors,” added Backstage Studio CEO Christie Pitts. “This partnership allows us to provide further support for our Detroit cohort to continue to scale in a city known for its entrepreneurial spirit.”

The companies that are receiving the grant include:
1.) Alerje – A medtech product that is seeking to improve the overall quality of life of those impacted with life-threatening food allergies
2.) Gildform – An on-demand jewelry design and manufacturing company that takes ideas through concept, CAD, 3D printing, casting, and assembly
3.) CrowdFreak – A digital platform that provides artists with performance opportunities around the world
4.) Foodstand – An app company that provides healthy eating and wellness information and helps individuals and organizations joyfully turn wellness goals into lifelong habits through team challenges and behavior changes
5.) Naturalicious – A collection of multi-tasking and non-toxic hair care products that help busy women style their hair in a fraction of the usual time

Arlan Hamilton founded Backstage Capital as a way to invest in entrepreneurs and early-stage companies led by those the firm considers underrepresented. And additional partners for the accelerator include Venture Catalysts and Bamboo Detroit.