$95 million to invest in tech startups.
In this month’s cover story, Backstage
Capital founder Arlan Hamilton reveals that by year’s end her fund will
write $1 million checks to two companies founded by black women.
There’s still much work to do, of
course. As Melinda Gates notes in
an essay (page 42), women founders receive just 2% of venture capital dollars. And according to a new
survey conducted by Fast Company
and our colleagues at Inc., running
one’s own company doesn’t insulate
women from gender bias: 53% of the
279 female founders we polled said
they had experienced discrimination or bias from clients, employees,
bankers, and financiers.
Which brings us back to Hamilton, a gay African-American woman
who pushed her way into the investing ranks just a few years ago.
Her bets may not pay off, but she’s
already won in one important sense:
Because she doesn’t fit the typi-
cal VC mold, she is able to connect
with frustrated female entrepre-
neurs and help fund their achieve-
ments. “Though she may not have
the biggest of funds, part of what
makes her such a force is that she
knows, firsthand, what it’s like to
be underestimated—and recognizes
that’s been dominated by men. “In a
year of reckoning for architecture,
as the profession confronted its own
#Me Too moment, Gang, Levete, and
Dubbeldam highlight the crucial
ways women are shaping the future
of the built environment,” LaBarre
says. It is worth noting that all
three aren’t just architects, they are
founders of their own studios. Like
Sharkey, Lee, Hamilton, and Gates,
they’re running the show.
the value of otherwise overlooked
founders,” notes Fast Company’s
Amy Farley, who edited Ainsley
Harris’s sharp profile of Hamilton.
Fully eliminating the funding gap
will require the biggest financiers
to broaden their portfolios, but vocal investors such as Hamilton and
Gates (she is a backer and limited
partner in female-led firms) are
sparking important conversations—
and opening doors.
Women are also making their
mark on Fast Company’s seventh annual Innovation by Design Awards,
which honor individuals and businesses solving the problems of today and tomorrow. British architect
Amanda Levete’s firm is a winner in
the Spaces, Places, and Cities category for its expansion of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.
Heather Dubbeldam’s design work
on Slack’s Toronto office gets a nod.
Jeanne Gang’s studio is recognized
for revitalizing the Memphis riverfront and a public-space project in
Chicago that aims to bring police
and community closer together.
Senior editor Suzanne LaBarre, who
heads up Fast Company’s design coverage and administers the Innovation by Design Awards, says all three
bring diverse perspectives in a field
of Studio Gang,
wins Innovation by
attention this year
Could 2018 be a watershed for women
entrepreneurs? In July, Tina Sharkey, cofounder and CEO of direct-to-consumer
company Brandless, announced a $240
million Series C funding round—an apparently unprecedented sum for a woman-led private company. A few days later,
Aileen Lee’s Cowboy Ventures said it raised