Tech Intersect™ with Tonya M. Evans

Tech Intersect #20: Arlan Hamilton-How to Turn Being Underestimated into Your Greatest Advantage

May 01, 2020 Tonya M. Evans Episode 21
Tech Intersect™ with Tonya M. Evans
Tech Intersect #20: Arlan Hamilton-How to Turn Being Underestimated into Your Greatest Advantage
Chapters
00:00:53
Episode Summary
00:03:23
Introducing Arlan Hamilton
00:04:54
Arlan explains how her positive intention to break into venture capital became a reality
00:05:30
Arlan discusses why achieving her professional goals are always linked to the success of other underestimated founders
00:06:02
Why decision points in business are opportunities to test and vet one's professional goals
00:07:20
What is driving your outcome and does it justify your time and effort
00:08:55
How Arlan's podcast journey helped Tonya level up her podcasting game
00:09:40
Why do we all feel like we know Arlan!? All about connection and authenticity
00:11:20
Arlan on controlling the controllables, treating people well and sharing with others
00:12:50
The law of attraction and getting back what you put out into the world
00:13:25
Arlan on being the bridge between underestimated founders and investors
Tech Intersect™ with Tonya M. Evans
Tech Intersect #20: Arlan Hamilton-How to Turn Being Underestimated into Your Greatest Advantage
May 01, 2020 Episode 21
Tonya M. Evans

In this episode of Tech Intersect, I speak with Arlan Hamilton, founder and managing partner of the venture capital firm, Backstage Capital. Arlan built this fund from the ground up, while experiencing homelessness. Literally. Backstage Capital addresses funding disparities in tech by investing in high-potential underestimated founders (people of color, women, and/or members of the LGBTQ community. Started from scratch, Backstage has now raised more than $7 million and invested in more than 130 startup companies led by underestimated founders. 

See amazing Arlan’s fireside chat with Shontavia Johnson and me during the Phoenix Rising Summit: Crisis-Proof Your Career & Monday (4/19/2020) with some never-before shared insights, experiences and encouraging words (streaming replay access for the entire event that includes this chat available for purchase at PhoenixRisingSummit.com). 

She also hosts the Your First Million Podcast and recently launched two long-anticipated projects. Her first book, It’s About Damn Time (business/inspiration/self-help), hits the shelves on May 5th. And she recently launched her informative and invaluable course, Raising Capital for Your Company from Scratch via Teachable. Tech Intersect listeners receive 50% off the course with the code TECHINTERSECT (now $360, $900 beginning May 5th). 

Some takeaways from this episode and It’s About Damn Time: Decision points matter. And so do relationships, authenticity, a positive intention in everything you do and a dogged determination to see your life beyond your present circumstances. Use Arlan’s journey and book as a source of encouragement, inspiration and information. Please share your thoughts ahas and selahs in the comments. And as you read the book, share your favorite parts and how you plan to turn being underestimated into your greatest advantage! 

Guest social assets:

Links:

Contact: 

Want early access to episodes, exclusive content including full show notes, live video chats and replays, a copy of my e-book, The Gen Xers Guide to Upskilling for a Web 3.0 World and self-guided course of the same name? Subscribe to Advantage Evans™ Plus, Advantage Evans Premium™ or Advantage Evans Pro™:

Support the show (https://techintersectpodcast.com/join/)

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

In this episode of Tech Intersect, I speak with Arlan Hamilton, founder and managing partner of the venture capital firm, Backstage Capital. Arlan built this fund from the ground up, while experiencing homelessness. Literally. Backstage Capital addresses funding disparities in tech by investing in high-potential underestimated founders (people of color, women, and/or members of the LGBTQ community. Started from scratch, Backstage has now raised more than $7 million and invested in more than 130 startup companies led by underestimated founders. 

See amazing Arlan’s fireside chat with Shontavia Johnson and me during the Phoenix Rising Summit: Crisis-Proof Your Career & Monday (4/19/2020) with some never-before shared insights, experiences and encouraging words (streaming replay access for the entire event that includes this chat available for purchase at PhoenixRisingSummit.com). 

She also hosts the Your First Million Podcast and recently launched two long-anticipated projects. Her first book, It’s About Damn Time (business/inspiration/self-help), hits the shelves on May 5th. And she recently launched her informative and invaluable course, Raising Capital for Your Company from Scratch via Teachable. Tech Intersect listeners receive 50% off the course with the code TECHINTERSECT (now $360, $900 beginning May 5th). 

Some takeaways from this episode and It’s About Damn Time: Decision points matter. And so do relationships, authenticity, a positive intention in everything you do and a dogged determination to see your life beyond your present circumstances. Use Arlan’s journey and book as a source of encouragement, inspiration and information. Please share your thoughts ahas and selahs in the comments. And as you read the book, share your favorite parts and how you plan to turn being underestimated into your greatest advantage! 

Guest social assets:

Links:

Contact: 

Want early access to episodes, exclusive content including full show notes, live video chats and replays, a copy of my e-book, The Gen Xers Guide to Upskilling for a Web 3.0 World and self-guided course of the same name? Subscribe to Advantage Evans™ Plus, Advantage Evans Premium™ or Advantage Evans Pro™:

Support the show (https://techintersectpodcast.com/join/)

spk_0:   0:07
Welcome to Tech Intersect. I'm your host, Tanya Evans, and my life and work exists at the heart of law, business and technology. Yeah, I've earned a few fancy titles in degrees over the years, but the bottom line is I'm a writer, speaker, teacher and lifelong learner, and I'm really excited that you join me on this journey. So what is Tech intersect? Well, it's authentic, empowering conversations with really interesting guests who demystify complex topics to prepare you for the future. Because your future is now and it exists where law, business and tech intersect. Get ready to listen, learn and left change. Let's get

spk_1:   0:50
started in this episode of tech Intersect. I speak with Arlen Hamilton, founder and managing partner of the venture capital firm Backstage Capital. Arlan built this fund from the ground up while at the same time experiencing homelessness literally. It's a fund that is dedicated to minimizing funding disparities in tech by investing in high potential founders who are people of color women, LGBT community, others who we collectively refer to as underestimated. Now the fund was started from scratch with the power of positive intention and a deep dive into YouTube University in 2015. Now backstage has raised more than $7 million invested in more than 130 start up companies led by Underestimated founders. Amazing. She also hosts your 1st 1,000,000 podcast and is quickly becoming known for her philanthropic endeavors, including her sponsorship of the Phoenix Rising Summit, an online summit I co hosted with Sante via Johnson to help professionals and entrepreneurs crisis proof, their careers, money and minds. Arlen joined Minda, Hearts, Lynette, Cal, Funny Cox and other dynamic speakers to share some really great insight wisdom some never shared before lessons from her journey about thriving in the start up space even in times of crisis. The replay is available at Phoenix Rising Summit dot com, so definitely check it out while it is still available. More information At the end of the show, 2018 was a power filled year of firsts for Arlen. She became one of the first black women to feature on the cover of Fast Company magazine, and she also co founded Backstage studio, and that studio launched four accelerator programs for underestimated founders in Detroit, Los Angeles, my hometown of Philadelphia and also London 2020 is proving to be yet another year of firsts. Arlen's first book, It's About Damn Time, hits the shelves on May 5th, and she also recently launched her incredibly informative and invaluable course, raising capital for your company from scratch via teachable. More information about that in the episode and also at the end, including a special discount. So stick with me to the end now. Time to listen, learn and leverage. So let's get started. So I am absolutely thrilled to welcome back Stage Capital founder and managing partner Arlen Hamilton to Tech intersect today. So Backstage is a venture capital fund that is dedicated to minimizing funding disparities and tech by investing in high potential underestimated founders who are of color women and or members of the LGBT community. Harland's also a new author, the author of her book It's About Damn Time, and that's how I'm going to say it Every time I say it, I'm gonna say it just like that. I was fortunate enough to receive an advanced readers copy or an arc, as we call it in the Biz, and also to hear a snippet from the audiobook version, and I cannot wait for everyone to receive the lessons and the blessings in this book. We'll get to that and her podcast, Your 1st 1,000,000 her philanthropic endeavors with project cover in a moment. But first Arlen, welcome to Tech Intersect.

spk_2:   4:14
Thank you so much for having me.

spk_1:   4:16
Excellent. So let's dive in. You've come a long way in five years. So five years ago, as you explain more fully in your book and you certainly talk about on the podcast and when you speak, you're on public assistance, experiencing home insecurity. But the thing that sustained you was this dream and actually more than a dream. It was this positive intention that you kept saying and not just saying in your head, but literally out loud about breaking into venture capital. So let's start with from that time in your life, what best prepared you are some of the the high notes of what best prepared you to actually make that dream your present reality.

spk_2:   4:55
I think it waas a combination of lucky say, telling myself that I was already this thing, you know, not being ah disillusioned or anything but just giving myself the permission to already stand in front of what would become my destiny, I think, was really important. And even more so was the imagining and envisioning of the outcome and what impact that could have if I were to succeed. And so once I realized, you know, it's not just going to be about me. If I succeeded this, I will be able to If I do what I think I can do if I somehow get there, I'll be able to put. Resource is behind underrepresented founders who I have been talking to and working with and observing for years and who I think are overlooked. And so having that as like the wind in my sails was really important. And I think the only thing that kept me going really

spk_1:   6:00
and I love that part in the book where you drill down a bit on that moment, that decision point right when you're thinking of your imagining the world with that impact and without, and the fact that without it it, you know you might be more secure personally and and you're smaller nucleus of your life. But to imagine that the same people, whether you are educated, overeducated, educated by the streets and everywhere in between. But if you were black or brown a woman a member of the LGBT community, you would still have to justify your existence and actually ask permission to have that proverbial seat that that we're always talking about. So I love the way you just described the wind at your back. That kind of propelled you forward to to really grab hold of what that reality would be. Not your present circumstances at that time.

spk_2:   6:56
That's right. Yeah, it was, um it's definitely needed when you have so much against you, I think is the have, like, this secondary, higher calling. However you imagine it, however you do, you think of that. It doesn't have to be. You don't have to be changed the world sort of situation. It really doesn't. It just needs to be like what is bigger than yourself. What is driving this? And and that kind of helps you to decide if you need to be doing it all visit the justify the time in the in the effort and the discomfort and all of that if it is only serving you in the end. And that's what I use for most decisions.

spk_1:   7:39
Right and I can. That's it's probably even Mawr oven ever president. Way to analyze where someone would be, you know, three months from now or three years from now, given all that's going on in the world with Kobe 19 right? So there are a lot of people who are at that very decision points. I think that's really helpful to help people focus on something because there's so many things that we can't control. I know you're spending a lot of time recently, and I appreciate it personally. The conversation that you're having around the impact of covert 19 on your podcast and that kind of leads me to my next question. We don't know each other personally. It seems like we're playing like six degrees of Separation, but we don't We don't know each other, but you're so generous with your time and your talents and your treasures that it feels like we do. And I know that I'm not alone in that feeling, and I I think it's It's probably for a number of things. One your authenticity always shines through, but through your podcast and your speaking engagements and and you're amazing Twitter thumbs that I love very much. You're really able to genuinely connect in ways that others in tech and finance just cannot do. And and you know that personally as well, right? So you've led us in to see this evolution of your relationship and congratulations, and and your art. And you are the reason I have a podcast studio. I want you to understand this right now, my muse and all of this. I tweeted out and I was, like, help And you did that episode and I said,

spk_2:   9:04
I think I can I think I can Slowly. But surely you great job that notice. Your sound is very good. And, uh oh, the mic you're using is very good. And ah, I've still trying to figure out how to get everything inter faced. Correct? That makes me so, So happy to hear that.

spk_1:   9:23
Yes, I appreciate you very much. It really has been transformative to me. And through all of those things, you really let the proverbial us or we in to see the evolution of all of those things, right? So you've also shared a lot of the lessons of backstage as it continues to evolve. And so this question is do you feel like you're as connected with the collective us in the same way that people feel like they're connected to you? And, you know, I think book launch team. Think of your philanthropic endeavors and the way you're just really you're connecting with people. So it's so talk to me about

spk_2:   9:55
that. Yeah, I think so. I can't ever know how everyone else feels about me, but yes, I do. I do feel very connected, and it's a very, very genuine and organic. And I know that because I'll wake up sometimes. You know, they're often more times than not. I'll wake up feeling a almost physical need to connect with people. That is, It's almost like my heart. My heart can't take it if I can't. If I can't, you know what? You should wait, but it's like I feel like, Okay, what? What can I What can I do today to help people? Or what can I do today to connect people to some sort of resource? Or and that I think that's probably really rooted in for most of my life, not feeling like I had much control over what I do like it was broke most of my life all of my life, up until 35 39 now completely, completely kind of at the whim of others and whether it be for money or for whatever. And so I feel like now that I have a little bit more like I have what I need, and I also have an abundance that I can share with others. To me, this is what I've been waiting my whole life for and I actually was, Askew said in the book. You know, there's a whole section about connection, so I've always been about connecting with people even when I was broke. But it so it's always been this drive in me to like If I can't control everything in my life that it lead at the least I can do is what can I control, and what I can control is how I treat people. What I can control is is if I know something I share it because what's the good of having information or resource is if you if you keep it and hoard it all to yourself. That just never had been attractive to me, so I definitely feel it and I feel the love that comes back. That's not to say that I don't get a lot of, ah vitriol online. Goodness, I know. But I feel the love most of all, and I feel like everybody wants to see me win as much as I want to see them when

spk_1:   12:02
no doubt I mean, it's that that's that circle of energy, right? And it's a dynamic thing. There are often times you might reach out to someone or help, and you may not receive it back. That actually isn't the reason that you would do something. It's just to make sure that they are elevated as you are as well. But it comes back and like these really amazing and unlikely places. So in the same moment, if I could be disappointed on one end, someone who I didn't realize was going to show up for me does. And I feel like that's completing the circle, too.

spk_2:   12:33
Yeah, it happens, and it is not linear, so you just can't go through life saying, I'm going to give this so I can get this. What you can do, though, is understand. I don't know if it's a power law negotiation law. I really don't know for sure, but it is some sort of law of gravity. Headley's because it is. It really is true that not not in a linear fashion but in some sort of fashion. Like all things being equal, you do get back what you put out, and I'm not being experiential person. That's not really where I'm coming from with it. It's mostly just based on my experience. It doesn't you know, I can put something out into this group, and this other group five years later is going to bring that back to me. And so the the math on that is just makes a lot of sense to put a lot of good out into the world like that. The math works out

spk_1:   13:24
absolutely. And that reminds me of something else. You said in the book about being the bridge between the underestimated population that does so much with so little and others who are. You know, they have the money, but they aren't accessing or don't have the access to. For whatever reason, this amazing group of founders and so you're actually the bridge right? And so that makes a lot of sense to me, your book is catalogued and categorize. So I my family owns an independent publishing company. And so I started back in the nineties self publishing, although earlier I said Independent publishing because it is independent of the big boys and the big girls. But also I wanted to make sure that all of my books a series of legal reference guides for writers and other creatives, and it just had to be indistinguishable on the shelves. We had a lot more bookstores at that time, and you put all of that energy in. But there was a lot of upside because it it was wonderful to see it from beginning to middle to end, right? And but one of my frustrating, one of the frustrating moments was having to categorize Ah, book that sometimes doesn't fit neatly into a precise category. Right? And I feel that way about your book, So I know it's a business book, but it really seems like so much Mauritz feels, as I read it, certainly part memoir, um, inspiration or self help part how to part, how not to have some fantastic chapter headings and all of that. So some of them sound like songs that I would dance to, so and I'm trying to get it from getting to end because I have, like, a linear mind. But I'm like,

spk_2:   15:03
Oh, that it's different. I'm gonna read that one first. So I say all that to say, What do you think this book is? It's interesting that you say about, like, reading out of order. Okay, So one of the things that I did when I decided to write a book at all one of the reasons I decided to is because I had read all these books, these business books, getting into venture capital, getting into the industry that I'm in right now over the past several years. And so for the 1st 3 to 4 years before I had a dime towards the fund, all I was doing was reading, learning, interviewing, etcetera. And then soon as I had a dime, I kept reading, reading, reading. So I was learning from these professors, if you will who never met me, and some of them eventually met me and the story goes on. But really, this education, it was happening kind of virtually back them. And I wanted to I wanted this book to be something like that for other people because I wanted to pay that for so one of the things that I kind of quietly think about. I don't think I've ever said it to even my publisher is that I want people to come back and flip through in reference. You know, I love him to read it right, but I love them to come back and flip through in reference and find that chapter that that really means something to them. Or find that that that antidote that really admit something to them and and so that's really interesting And it's, Ah, it makes sense that you are in publishing your whole life because the to pick up on that is actually quite it's like you're reading my journal.

spk_1:   16:39
Yes, that is exactly how it

spk_2:   16:42
title the type of book it is. I definitely wanted on purpose. I needed to really sit in the business section because there are not enough enough. There are some that they're just not enough business books for everyone written by black women roar. If they're not, they are written. They're not published and out there for the general public to see, And I just think that's really important. After being on the cover of Fast Company a couple of years ago, that really resonated with me because I saw firsthand every single day for several weeks what it was like to have a black woman see that cover who had no idea what what Silicon Valley or Venture capital was. But just to see the cover and feel some sort of Oh, I want to start a business, you know that to me is so important. And it is partially a memoir. But I don't I think there's a memoir that will happen in 10 20 years. It will be the full story, I think absolutely. And hey, if it's inspirational, Abdulmajid

spk_0:   17:48
way hope you're enjoying this Addition of tech intersect. Our conversation will continue in a moment, but first, a word on an exciting opportunity. The tech Intersect podcast is released to the public every Friday, but as an advantage Evans member, you'll receive first listen, access and live tech Intersect connect video chats. Premium members also receive a copy of My E book, the Gen Xers Guide to Up Skilling in a Web three Pointer World and unlimited access to the video chat three plays and bonus episode. My pro members ready to leverage what they listen to and learn, receive access to the up Skilling self guided course and v I. P Group coaching calls. So as you can see advantage, Evans membership adds substantial value to your podcast experience, and there are three ways to take advantage if you see what I did right there. Of all that the tech intersect protest has to offer. So subscribe now and let's listen, learn and leverage together. And now, back to the conversation.

spk_1:   19:04
There you go. Well, you have certainly done your job. To be sure. Ah, lot of people right now have lost a lot of opportunities. We're recording this at a time where we have this unprecedented crisis of certainly a medical crisis and a financial crisis, but a crisis of confidence on a level that is really unimaginable, I suspect in the months to come, it's like people are gonna have PTSD or something. After this moment. Everybody's head is down right now, but I'm thinking ahead to like the fall and what the repercussions from an emotional and a a mental state will be so people are feeling a sense of loss without the certainty that will have a beginning, middle and an end and what that's going to mean. So what are some of the key points in lessons? Because your book is actually ever green, as we say, that is to these air things that I'm reading it now. I can read it five years from now, 10 years from now, 20 years from now. And it's still going to be relevant because, you know, right is until we're done, there's always something to do. So what are some key points and lessons that would encourage people in this particular moment in this particular crisis?

spk_2:   20:15
Yeah, well, you know, because you're part of the book launch team and I get to interact with about 200 or so people who are in the book launch team. So they send me things on a daily basis, and they said this different things are, as as the kids say are hitting this certain way. The people now and of course, when I wrote it and co wrote it with Rachel Nelson when we wrote it, we certainly didn't imagine that would be a pandemic that would be hitting the exact time that it would be released. But there's an entire section about resilience, and the resilience part is, is the reminder of that. A lot of us have been through really bad times, you know, We've been through some stuff to get to where we are today, even if it wasn't as obvious as being homeless or something like that. Just the fact that if you went to a particular school and you got to that school and you made it through that school with the paper, cuts of micro aggression probably went through just the things like that we have gone through. I said on a tweet recently that white people are being treated like black people were treated by the government. And there, Lou, I e. I can't get my money through. It wasn't my fault. And all I need is to be able to pay the bills and my kids. What am I gonna do about it? I mean, is this so we have that resilience and then, But even more, I think you know there's this. There's two that come to mind, too. Is creativity the crate being creative and hacking your way through this time and making you can out of it is going to be really important. And I think there's some great examples in the book about how you could be creative in lean times. So that's definitely something. Look at and so care the South care section now. I'm not here to tell you all toe to break your necks and do everything you can. And if you're not a seven days a week here, I'm here to say, Take care of yourself and do the thing that helps you the most so that you could help others. And here's how. And here's some Here's some things you can do and so that self help section. And then finally, there's eight sections. But this four section, I think, is, is the big picture section. So if I think about looking to the future, what gives me gets me by right now is looking a year ahead, looking two years ahead. We're going to get through this. We will come out, as you say with PTSD. That is no doubt that some some will have different reasons in different degrees, but there is no contest and so we will all have some suffered some damage. But we will get through and we will get over and we will get beyond. And when that happens, and as it's happening as we're getting through it, I think it's really important to nourish ourselves in many ways and to and to forgive ourselves and to protect ourselves. And I think all of those things I tried to talk about in the book for just day to day,

spk_1:   23:10
right? Well, I wish all of those things for you as well, because you are absolutely on the front lines and in the trenches and all of the other ways that we could describe it. And so I'm the associate dean at my law school, for example, and when other people were going home. If you have the good fortune to be able to work from home, that's great. And but I find my son, people might describe me is an overachiever. I do not accept that, but I am. I'm I'm a high achieving person, but I am finding myself reading things over and over and over again. My son isn't the same, having to be more intentional about what I watch and what I listen, Teoh. I was used to ski share a lot of things about the crisis, and I was showing the a lot of the bad things without the balance. And I realize that I'm tweeting that out. Then I'm must not have balance in my own life. So I had to kind, of course correct. I believe in informing people for sure. But at a certain point, without the hope side of it and the self care aspect of it in the balance, then then it's gonna be more difficult. So I appreciate that. And I wish that for you because you do so much for so many. And not often do people check on the use of the world in the means of the world. So I'm checking on you. I got my own. You he absolutely is the list. Get out of here and tell people how they can stay connected with you and your work and have been. And when the book comes out

spk_2:   24:29
absolutely, book is out. May 5th. You can get it at. It's about damn time dot com. You can get it as an audiobook as a hardcover physical copy or as an e book for your kindle or otherwise. I hope that you find a wayto to read it, to listen to it and that it means something to you. You can also follow me at Arlen was here a r l a in was here on Twitter and Instagram. I'm always interacting with people on both of those mediums and really enjoy that. So I hope to hear from you very, very

spk_1:   25:00
soon. I really loved this conversation with Arlen. Hope that you do too. I almost forgot that it was for the podcast, but I'm really glad that I could share that conversation with you all. There are so many gems and I highs and say lies which means pause and reflect on that so much to pause and reflect on. So this episode Yep, it's one for the ages and I hope you'll return to it over and over again and also shared with your friends and your networks before I get to the takeaways to reminders Sign up for Arlen's course a sap it Lee. That means right now and definitely before May 5th it costs just $360 now. But the price goes up to 900 on May 5th, and that's to coincide with the book release. So now you'll enjoy a really great discount to with the code tech Intersect. Second, the Phoenix Rising Summit replay is still available, and for just $50 you have 24 73 65 streaming access Full control. Stop, rewind, pause. Reflect on that all of those things. So head to Phoenix Rising Summit got come for more information. Okay, now, for some takeaways from this episode, and also from it's about Damn Time. First decision points matter, and so do relationships and authenticity and honesty and a positive intention in everything you do and also a dogged determination to see your life beyond your present circumstances. Arlen is the bridge between the underestimated founder and the private equity club or a table I should say that's dominated by the powerful few in Silicon Valley. And Arlen's book is also a bridge and a lifeline and a beacon and a road map and the first encouraging fist bump that you didn't know you needed, especially in the midst of this help financial and confidence crisis. Look, you will get through this. We will get through this. Use Arlen's journey as a source of encouragement, inspiration and information. And please share your thoughts. Your ah ha's, your say lies in the comments. And as you read the book, come back and share your favorite parts with me and and how you plan to turn being underestimated into your greatest advantage.

spk_0:   27:32
Okay, that's it. For now, until next time continue to shine. Stay in touch with host Tanya Evans via your favorite social media on Twitter at at Tech Intersect and on Instagram via the handle tech intersect. This, by cast has been produced by Stephanie Renee for Soul Sanctuary Incorporated.

Episode Summary
Introducing Arlan Hamilton
Arlan explains how her positive intention to break into venture capital became a reality
Arlan discusses why achieving her professional goals are always linked to the success of other underestimated founders
Why decision points in business are opportunities to test and vet one's professional goals
What is driving your outcome and does it justify your time and effort
How Arlan's podcast journey helped Tonya level up her podcasting game
Why do we all feel like we know Arlan!? All about connection and authenticity
Arlan on controlling the controllables, treating people well and sharing with others
The law of attraction and getting back what you put out into the world
Arlan on being the bridge between underestimated founders and investors