Who is an “underrepresented” founder?
All founders who identify as a Woman, Person of Color, LGBTQ+, and other underestimated groups are encouraged to apply for funding.
What stage company can apply?
We welcome any stage company from any industry to apply.
How far along do we have to be progress-wise?
Due to the quality and quantity of applicants we’re anticipating, we encourage you to apply if you’ve already done some work to validate your business concept.
Which industry or business model can apply?
Any type of for-profit business is welcome to apply.
Do we have to be incorporated?
No. However, if your company is raising venture capital in general, it is helpful to be structured as a C-corp.
Can I apply if I’m a solo founder (it’s just me!)?
Sure. Solo founders are welcome to apply. Backstage has funded solo founders in the past.
Do I need to have a technical co-founder?
There’s no requirement to have a technical co-founder.
What size check does Backstage write?
The majority of our “first check” investments have ranged from $25k to $100k.
What are the credentials needed to gain investment with Backstage?
We invest in companies led by underrepresented founders. We define “underrepresented” as women, people of color, and LGBTQ+ founders. These founders need to be part of the executive leadership team and meaningfully represented on the cap table of the companies we invest in. We invest in companies in nearly every sector. We see 1000’s of companies per year and invest in less than 2% of the companies that we meet.
We consider these questions internally when evaluating an investment opportunity:
- Team Qualities:
- Founder-Market-Fit: are the founders solving a pain point where the founder has career experience, or personal experience with the problem?
Professional or personal experience: do they have subject matter and/or domain expertise?
- What is their ability to build a team and recruit top talent in the future?
- Value proposition: is their product useful, and is the right solution to the problem identified?
- Roadmap: does the founder have a vision for future improvements and/or product offerings?
- Defensibility: is the solution hard to duplicate?
- Market Opportunity
- Size of market (available market & addressable market)
- Room for growth: is the market growing?
- Competitive landscape: can this company be 1st or 2nd in their market?
- ROI Opportunity
- Business model: has the company clearly identified how they will make money?
- M&A or IPO strategy: are the founders considering the future of their company strategically?
- Team + Product = $?: do you think the team working on this product will be successful?
- Evidence of Grit
- Customer discovery/feedback/market research: what have the founders done to validate their solution with their target market?
Traction: has the market started to adopt their product?
- Resources/fundraising/previous accelerator and/or incubator experience: have the founders raised money or participated in programs to propel them forward?
- “Gut” / Conviction
- Are we excited about investing in/working with this company/team?
Is there any sector that you don’t invest in?
We do not invest in alcohol or cannabis companies.
What’s your typical deal structure? What investment vehicle do you use?
We invest via convertible notes, SAFE notes, and as part of preferred equity financings.
We are open to investing in companies located anywhere.
Besides financing, what do you bring to the table as a partner?
We offer our Headliners (portfolio companies) support including mentorship, fundraising support and being included in our active community of other underrepresented founders.
What makes a strong application?
This is our chance to get to know you and your chance to best pitch you and your company. We encourage you to thoughtfully answer all questions. Try your best to share a clear picture of your team, why you are working on your business, and what you’ve done so far. Make sure to clearly communicate any progress you’ve made to date.
Backstage Office Hours, November 2020
We covered these topics and many more in our November office hours session. Listen now and sign up for office hours here.
Applications are open. Apply now.