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Arlan Hamilton, founder and general partner of Backstage Capital, speaking with the Riveter CEO Amy Nelson at an event at the Riveter on July 26, 2018. (GeekWire Photo / John Cook)

Backstage Capital continues to push forward on its mission to invest in women, people of color, and LGBT founders. Its latest announcement came Wednesday in the form of a new accelerator it is launching in partnership with Microsoft and Mailchimp.

This spring, the venture capital firm founded by Arlan Hamilton is starting the Backstage Accelerator in Philadelphia, London, Los Angeles, and a fourth city determined by a vote.

How Arlan Hamilton turned her hustle and grit into a minority-focused VC fund investing millions

Six startups will be apart of each cohort in each city. Backstage will invest $100,000 in each company in exchange for 5 percent equity.

Backstage is aiming to shift the imbalance in a tech world where only 2 percent of VC funding went to female founders in 2017. In less than three years, the firm has invested $4 million in 100 companies that are led by founders who are underrepresented in technology. In May, Backstage announced plans to raise a $36 million fund.

“There’s a tired narrative that exists about who gets to win from building a successful startup,” Christie Pitts, general partner at Backstage Capital, wrote in a blog post. “The dozens of founders who will go through the Backstage Accelerator are writing new stories about people who look like all of us. Their successful companies will benefit them, their investors, their employees, and their local communities.”

Microsoft is the “premier technology and business partner” of the new accelerator program. The Seattle-area tech giant will offer participants access to Microsoft for Startups, a revamped entrepreneurship program that includes free Azure credits, technical support, development tools, and more. Microsoft also said today that it will sponsor a 3-day tech conference in Philadelphia organized by Black & Brown Founders.

In July, Microsoft’s venture capital arm M12 unveiled a new startup competition that will award $4 million to two women-led startups.

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