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Ayinde Alakoye Plans To Amplify Black Voices Through His Live Audio Discovery App Nēdl

If you’ve ever had radio dreams, this Black founder is about to make them a reality. Ayinde Alakoye — a former speech contributor and message advisor to Barack Obama during a 2008 Presidential campaign — is remaining committed to the community, specifically the Black community. As a serial entrepreneur in the live broadcast space , Alakoye is no stranger to building apps. He created iHeartRadio’s mobile app and now he’s crafting his very own company from the ground up to better serve his community. Now, through his company Nēdl, Alakoye is on a mission to elevate more Black voices. The platform is a live audio discovery and creation app that allows users to start their own live call-in radio show with just the tap of a button. From there, the app transcribes, amplifies, and monetizes their words within seconds of them speaking. “If anyone can create a product for everyone, it’s us,” said Alakoye during a previous episode of AfroTech’s Black Tech Green Money podcast. “And so that’s...

Jul 28, 2021

Consumer Warranty Startup Upsie Raises $18.2M In Series A Round

Upsie, a consumer warranty startup led by Clarence Bethea, has raised $18.2 million in a Series A round led by True Ventures, according to a press release. The St. Paul, MN-based startup’s mission is to provide affordable and reliable warranties for electronic devices. Other notable Venture Capital (VC) firms and angel investors also participated in the round, including Concrete Rose VC, Avanta Ventures (CSAA Insurance Group, a AAA insurer), Kapor Capital, Samsung Next, Massive, Backstage Capital, Awesome People Ventures, Imagination Capital, Uncommon VC, Marc Belton, Daren Cotter (Founder and CEO of InboxDollars), George Azih (Founder and CEO of LeaseQuery), Richard Parsons, and several others. Upsie was born out of frustration with the expensive warranties consumers are often offered with their electronic device purchases. “Oftentimes when you walk into that big box store, they’re charging you so much money. They’re charging as high as 900% more than they should,” Bethea explained...

May 13, 2021

Backstage Capital, FarmTogether Announce Partnership To Make Farmland More Accessible

Backstage Capital is working to make farmland more accessible. FarmTogether is a technology-enabled investment platform that provides users with more access to farmland and today (May 4), they’ve announced a partnership with venture capital firm Backstage Capital with one goal in mind — increasing farmland investment properties to those who wish to utilize it. “As an asset class, U.S. farmland boasts a total value of $2.7 trillion,” said Backstage Capital’s Founder and Managing Partner, Arlan Hamilton in an exclusive press release shared with AfroTech. “Yet, only around 1% of the dollar value of all farms is financially backed or owned by funds, publicly traded companies, or high net-worth individuals. This has resulted in a highly fragmented and overlooked market.” The Backstage Capital investor community will soon have access to exclusive farmland investment properties which will capture both organizations’ shared values of not only accessibility but diversity and inclusivity too....

May 4, 2021

Arlan Hamilton Uses Her Platform to Add to What Founders Have Already Brought to the Table

Arlan Hamilton has been shaking things up in the venture capital space and wants to help others build and do the same. As the founder and managing partner of Backstage Capital, Hamilton has been on a mission to invest in women, people of color, and LGBT founders. Much like other industries, the venture capital space gets it wrong when it comes to investing in Black founders, but Hamilton wants to use her platform to be an additive to what creators have already built. For Hamilton, it’s about what a founder has done before they’ve gotten into the room to invest in the team. “People have incredible stories and feats that they’ve overcome to get where they are,” said Hamilton on the latest episode of Black Tech Green Money. While they rarely invest financially at the idea stage, Hamilton says this is where they invest emotionally. “There’s a lot of data to look at but ultimately, that early, I’m looking at it like this, ‘Is this person going to wake up every day and breathe life into...

Mar 23, 2021

VC Firm Backstage Capital Releases Five-Year Recap Detailing Its Impact on the VC World and Its Communities

The venture capital world can be quite intimidating for ambitious founders looking for funding, especially those among underrepresented groups that are often left out of those opportunities. Back in 2015, Backstage Capital founder, Arlan Hamilton set out to create a venture capital fund that offered more opportunities for people like her –– Black, people of color, women, LGBTQIA+. In turn, she founded a company that in five short years has invested in over 150 underserved founders. As Backstage Capital celebrates its fifth impactful year in business, the firm has also released a five-year recap report — developed by The Plug and its contributors Sherrell Dorsey, Ashley Black, and Gizelle Clemmons — detailing all the progress it’s made in the venture capital world and its communities. Commissioned by Backstage and prepared by @Sherrell_Dorsey and @tpinsights , our 5 Years of Impact Report is live! It details our impact from 2015-2020 and what’s next for us. Check it out:...

Nov 25, 2020

This Founder Wants to Bring Banking to the Palm of Your Hand

Everyone doesn’t have the luxury of going to a local Bank of America to cash a check or a Chase Bank to create a savings account. In many rural communities across the U.S., there are significant hurdles to accessing banking services. Sheena Allen, a rural Mississippi-native and the founder of CapWay, wanted to bridge the gap for unbanked communities with her app. CapWay is a mobile banking service that allows users to cash checks, set up checking accounts, and send money straight from their phones. Allen knows from experience what it is like to live in a one-bank town. She attributes her life in Terry, Mississippi, a small town outside of Jackson, as the inspiration for her newest venture. “Jackson has some of the highest rates of unbanked residents in the United States,” Allen said. “I was very familiar with people not having fair or proper access to mainstream financial services and products.” It was common to see people in her community cashing checks at grocery stores and payday...

Dec 16, 2019

Adventurely Is Here To Help Solo Travelers Find Community In New Cities

Solo travel has been picking up speed in the U.S. in the last few years giving explorers time to learn about countries and cultures at their own pace. One major hurdle many solo travelers hit is finding others to spend time went while outside of the United States or in a different city. Sometimes Facebook groups are not enough and dating apps can create horror stories. Mita Carriman is bringing Adventurely to solo travelers worldwide in hopes of making connecting a seamless and stress-free experience. Adventurely is a platform that curates experiences for solo travelers looking to make connections in other cities. Not to be confused with a dating app, Adventurely is solely for people who want to eat at the trendiest restaurants, find the best views and absorb themselves into a new city’s culture. The Backstage Capital -funded company wants to take the hassle out of meeting people and groups with similar interest while abroad or moving from state to state. Adventurely also lets users...

Sep 23, 2019

What Can Be Done to Get More Funding for Black Women-Led Startups?

As more Black women enter the startup world, many are struggling to secure venture capital funding compared to their white male counterparts. In 2017, women received nearly 2.2 percent of the $85 billion available in venture capital funding. According to the ProjectDiane2018 report by digitalundivided, the numbers were even smaller for Black women. Black women represented .0006 percent of the $424.7 billion in total tech venture funding raised since 2009 and a majority of the funding was raised in 2017. The dismal rates at which Black women receive funding reflects a larger issue with diversity in the tech and venture capital spaces. The National Venture Capital Association (NVCA) and Deloitte released a report in 2016 that showed that Blacks accounted for 3 percent of the VC workforce and that women accounted for 45 percent. Black people only comprise 2 percent of senior positions at VC firms. “Research shows that diverse teams make better decisions and, with this baseline...

Feb 5, 2019

Female Founders Only Raised 2.2 Percent of VC Funding This Year

Women founders received only 2.2 percent of U.S. venture capital this year, according to data from Pitchbook. That number has not budged since last year, and it sheds light on one of the broader gender issues in entrepreneurship — most of the big decision makers are men. Organizations like EnrichHer , Jane VC and Backstage Capital are working to diversify who venture capital goes to and are bringing women to the forefront of VC funding. EnRicherHer is a platform that allows women-entrepreneurs to connect directly to investors. Investors can send money to the companies and organizations of their choice directly through the platform. EnrichHer also features chatting options and funding profiles to help users navigate how and with whom they’d like to spend their money. Jane VC is a women-led VC firm that wants to fund female entrepreneurs. The company has revamped the way that entrepreneurs pitch investors by asking female founders to pitch directly to the firm. Jane VC gives...

Nov 6, 2018

Backstage Capital Launches Four-City Accelerator To Back Diverse Startups

Backstage Capital is no stranger to backing minority companies and supporting great missions — earlier this year we talked to founder Arlan Hamilton after her company announced a $36 million fund focused on investing in black women founders . Now they are turning their attention to accelerators. In Los Angeles, London, Philadelphia and a fourth city (which will be finalized by public vote), Backstage Capital will launch accelerators to uplift companies led by underrepresented founders. The companies chosen (they expect about six per city in the first go-round) will be offered $100,000 for 5% equity in the company. Companies will receive mentorship, education, perks from corporate partners and work space. They will also receive access to Microsoft and MailChimp products. Backstage Capital isn’t your typical accelerator program. Beyond providing opportunities for underrepresented founders, Hamilton said that she expects their approach to Demo Day (a time for startups to show off their...

Sep 11, 2018

This $36 Million Fund Is For Black Women Founders — And "It's About Damn Time"

Arlan Hamilton isn’t new to supporting underrepresented founders. Whether that means women, people of color or LGBTQ founders, Hamilton (founder of Backstage Capital) and her team have been there. So it comes as no surprise that they were able to bring their “It’s about damn time” fund to life. At the United State of Women Summit, Hamilton announced that Backstage Capital launched a $36 million fund that will invest in black women founders, $1 million at a time.   They’re calling it a “diversity fund.” I’m calling it an IT’S ABOUT DAMN TIME fund. — Arlan ?? (@ArlanWasHere) May 6, 2018   “This has been in the works for several months,” says Hamilton in an exclusive email to AfroTech. “It had a few iterations, but in the last couple of months, I made the decision that the money would go to funding black women specifically and $1 million at a time, specifically. It was very intentional and something that … I knew would probably get pushback from some people, but I have the greatest...