Black Woman Becomes Major Investor By Doing What Other Investors Won’t Do

woman investorTry to picture a prototypical tech investor. If you’re in the tech world already or if you watch “Silicon Valley” or read the business pages, you’re likely envisioning a genial-looking white guy. Maybe a little nerdy, Bill Gates-y. He probably has a degree from Stanford or maybe Harvard, possibly MIT.

Arlan Hamilton is nothing like that.

“I’m black, female and gay,” she told The Huffington Post by phone recently. “I am a triple threat to a lot of people, but not in a Beyoncé way.”

Still, on Thursday, Hamilton officially became a tech investor.  After years of trying to break into the venture capital world, the 34-year-old Dallas native launched her own “syndicate” — an early-stage investing fund on AngelList, a website for angel investors and startup founders.

Her fund’s goal: early-stage investing in underrepresented founders. Hamilton is looking for entrepreneurs who are black, Latino, gay or female — the kind of people who typically miss out on the money sloshing around Silicon Valley these days. Hamilton believes she’s the first black woman to lead a syndicate on the startup site.

Tech companies and venture capitalists are talking a lot these days about getting more women and minorities into the tech pipeline, sponsoring programs to teach girls to code or making sure to interview more women and minorities for jobs, like Facebook is now doing. But a fund like Hamilton’s is another piece of the puzzle. The diverse startup founders she backs can turn into the big-tech CEOs of tomorrow — and they’ll have diversity baked into their DNA. Meanwhile, Hamilton serves as inspiration for anyone looking to break into the ultra-exclusive investing world.

“Anytime you have a visible example, someone you can point to and say here’s someone unusual doing something different, it opens up opportunities for others,” Susan Kimberlin, a former Salesforce product manager who is now an early-stage investor and startup adviser, told HuffPost. “It’s like, ‘Oh look, if that person can do it, so can I.'”

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