As a first-time Black founder from South Carolina, Harold Hughes isn’t your stereotypical startup CEO. Despite his infectious enthusiasm and extensive sales experience, more than 140 investors passed on Bandwagon, his analytics company for sports venues, teams and fans. But after three years of no’s, Harold finally received a resounding yes with funding from Backstage Capital at the 2016 Google for Startups Black Founders Immersion Program. Not fitting in was exactly why Harold was the perfect fit for Backstage Capital’s team of “venture catalysts.”
“I found out later that Backstage saw more than 2,000 companies, and we were one of the startups they bet on,” remembers Harold. “I’ve always appreciated their team for believing in us early on and helping us find additional investors, minimize our costs, and amplify our message.”
Backstage Capital shares our belief that great ideas can come from anywhere, and we want to help them support more founders like Harold. So we’re partnering to help scale their new Backstage Accelerator, a three-month program for diverse founders in Detroit, Los Angeles, London and Philadelphia. In addition to initial investments, Backstage Accelerator helps startups reach their next critical milestone, with a team of experienced investors, experts and mentors. And now, they’ll get support from Google, too. Over the next year, each startup will be connected with Google advisors and product experts, onsite workshops in Google spaces, and access to the Google network of resources and support.
Backstage Accelerator is a natural addition to the 50+ organizations in the growing Google for Startups partner network. This year, we’re supporting organizations like Founder Gym, Veteran Capital, and SheStarts to help level the playing field for underrepresented founders, connecting them to the resources and network they need to grow. Together, we can close the funding gap and open doors for founders of all backgrounds.
We’re proud to work alongside Backstage Accelerator to change the face of startup success. But don’t just take our word for it. Join us in celebrating the incredible companies being built by Backstage Accelerator founders, featured this month on the Google for Startups Twitter, Instagram and Facebook channels.