It all started with a tweet.
Cover 1.0 came about when Arlan Hamilton, Founder + Managing Partner of Backstage Capital, a venture capital firm that invests in underrepresented tech startup founders, decided to give away copies of startup and investing books to help more people gain access to content that could change their career path.
She recalled, "early on, I wasn't always able to afford a book I wanted, so oftentimes I'd sit for hours at Barnes & Noble and read them, or save up for weeks to buy a particular title."
With a tweet draft completed to kickoff a giveaway to her followers on Twitter, she decided to reach out to Bryan Landers, a former-GP at Backstage Capital, to turn the idea into a more robust app with an application and selection process.
Together they launched the project as part of Backstage Capital with the help of their teammate Dianne Cherrez handling fulfillment and recipient correspondence, and have given away dozens of books from notable authors and investors to help support entrepreneurs and aspiring investors.
Cover 2.0 is an independent non-profit organization, which allows us to accept tax-deductible donations from anyone who believes in our mission to extend access to more people.
After receiving a modest estate inheritance, Arlan decided to gift $500 to 10 people to support them in their efforts to achieve something meaningful in their life. The response was overwhelming and beautiful.
The experiment inspired us to model Cover around the idea of gifting $500 to recipients to help them reach their goals. With this new approach, Cover will seek to allow access to knowledge (books, courses...), networks (introductions, memberships...), and opportunities (events, job applications...) to those who are working hard to achieve great things.
Arlan Hamilton is the Founder and Managing Partner of Backstage Capital, a venture capital firm dedicated to minimizing funding disparities in tech by investing in high-potential founders who are people of color, women, and/or LGBT. Started from scratch in 2015, Backstage has now raised more than $20 million and invested in nearly 200 startup companies led by underestimated founders. Arlan has been featured on the cover of Fast Company magazine as the first Black woman non-celebrity to do so, and is the author of “It’s About Damn Time” and host of the weekly podcast "Your First Million". Arlan and her mother, Mrs. Earline Butler-Sims, announced their scholarship program which kicked-off with scholarships for Black students at Oxford University and HBCU Dillard University. Arlan launched an online academy for entrepreneurs with over 35 hours of startup training with new courses added weekly.
Dianne is a wanderer, currently based in Los Angeles. Dianne received her degree in film production from Full Sail University and has been working in film, television, theater, and misc. arts for over a decade. She met Arlan during a magical night out at their favorite venue in Hollywood, the Hotel Cafe — well, actually they met in the alley behind the Hotel Cafe back in 2005. They have been empowering each other and working together in some capacity ever since.
Bryan invests in early-stage startups as a General Partner at Make Studios and a Venture Partner at Backstage Capital. He was the first designer at Zapier and a consultant to the Pinterest founding team. He holds a BFA from CalArts and has been a touring and recording banjoist in Nashville, a film/TV composer, and a music editor for the Reba McEntire sitcom. His album Dear Little Moon features modern arrangements of Bulgarian folk music for voice and banjo.