The percentage of US adults who identify as LGBTQ+ has doubled in the last decade—from 3.5% in 2012 to 7.1% in 2022. And Gallup predicts the possibility that that percentage may exceed 10% in the near future. Despite this, LA-based VC firm Backstage Capital estimates that LGBTQ+ founders still receive less than 1% of VC funding—a stagnant and staggeringly low figure.
Our 2022 list of LGBTQ+ founders, investors, technologists and innovators represents a small fraction of the trailblazing pros who are at work in the capital markets, creating space for themselves and others—in an environment that has long lacked diverse voices and perspectives. This list, which was expanded from 33 to 39 founders and investors this year, includes some familiar faces and some newer names. We’ve included links to each person’s most-used social profile(s), and we’ve linked to PitchBook profile previews of the companies and firms each person is associated with.
To learn more about the criteria for being included in this list and/or how to submit an LGBTQ+ founder or investor for a future update, scroll to the end of this article.
LGBTQ+ founders and entrepreneurs
Principal of Black Futures Lab, an Oakland-based think tank that works to transform Black communities into constituencies that wield independent political power at the municipal, state and federal level. Garza is also the co-founder of Black Lives Matter, a globally recognized organizing project that focuses on combatting anti-Black state-sanctioned violence and the oppression of all Black people.
Founder and CEO of Madison Reed, an ammonia-free at-home hair color company. Errett is also an investor at True Ventures focusing on consumer and e-commerce startups.
Co-founder, along with Matthew Malin, of MALIN + GOETZ, a luxury skincare and fragrance line offering cleansers, moisturizers and shampoos featuring natural ingredients.
Founder and CEO of TransTech Social Enterprises, a co-learning and co-working nonprofit with a focus on economically empowering trans, lesbian, gay, bisexual and queer people and allies with practical, career-ready skills.
Co-founder, alongside Patricia Santos, of Volition Beauty, an online platform that empowers users to help create the products they’d like to see.
Co-founder and CEO of MMG, a Black-led and nonbinary-led social justice organization and change management firm.
Founder and executive producer of Radimo, a gender-fluid brand house and consulting agency focused on increased representation for marginalized individuals in media, entertainment and advertising.
Co-founder of of Can I Play That?, a provider of accessibility video game reviews, in 2014 with their late partner, Susan Banks. Despite their departure from the company in 2019, Can I Play That? has revolutionized gaming for the disabled community. Now at Epic Games, Craven continues to empower teams to create inclusive content and products with a passion for developing kind, rewarding communities that companies thrive on.
Co-founder and former CEO of Prezi, a cloud-based presentation software company reinventing how people share knowledge virtually.
CEO of Queerly Health, a mission-driven startup that leverages concierge health and digital health to end LGBTQ+ health disparities by 2030.
Co-founder, along with her partner Naomi Gonzalez, of TomboyX, a gender neutral underwear and apparel brand headquartered in Seattle.
CEO at Postlight, a startup that designs and builds software platforms. Trapani is perhaps best known for founding blockbuster tech blog Lifehacker, which was acquired by Univision.
Founder and CEO of Humankind, a line of mix-and-match, gender-inclusive swimwear and active wear built for comfort and style.
Founder and CEO of WERKIN, a people analytics platform using behavioral science to promote diversity through modern mentoring, coaching and training.
Founder and creative director of Tart, a New York-based branding and creative studio specializing in the expressive, unexpected and downright fun.
Co-founder of Cann, a line of gluten-free, vegan THC-infused beverages that aim to reshape social drinking.
Co-founder of Postlight, a tech website sold to Vox Media in 2015. After joining the New York Times in 2020, she’s headed back to Vox to host a new podcast in fall 2022.
Founder and CEO of Lex, a social app that connects the queer community members looking to meet new friends, build relationships and have fun.
Founder and executive chair of Socos Labs, a think tank experimenting with new versions of work, education and inclusive economies to inform more human-centered policy.
Founder and CEO of Lesbians Who Tech, the largest LGBTQ community of technologists in the world with 100,000 members from 40+ global cities. Lesbians Who Tech’s San Francisco Summit is the largest professional LGBTQ event in the world, and their programmatic work includes a coding scholarship, mentoring program and a leadership program for nonbinary people and LGBTQ women in tech.
Former pro golfer and founder of Queer Asian Social Club, a community that increases the visibility of queer and trans-APISWAD (Asian-Pacific Islander-Southwest Asian-Desi) people.
CEO and co-founder of Awaken, a startup offering workshops and trainings on authenticity, social justice, and inclusive leadership to transform the way people show up and thrive.
Co-founder and CEO of Mendi, a Portland-based, direct-to-consumer CBD health brand that empowers active lifestyles and sports recovery. Mendi offers gummies, salve sticks, tinctures, message oils and creams that prioritize wellness through product innovation. Rachael’s products are endorsed by her twin sister and world-renowned athlete—a professional soccer player and the captain of the United States national team—Megan Rapinoe.
Co-founder of Grindr, alongside Joel Simkhai, a social networking app for gay, bisexual, trans and queer people. Lewallen is also an accomplished artist and currently sits as the vice president of TAG Gallery.
Founder and CEO of Blendoor, a diversity rating and hiring platform that powers the environmental, social and governance of impact funds and publicly traded companies.
||Stephanie (Lampkin) VanPutten
Founder and CEO of Audeliss, a London-based executive search firm dedicated to leveling the playing field for women, ethnically diverse and LGBTQ+ candidates.
LGBTQ+ investors and VCs
Founder and managing partner at Backstage Capital, a VC firm that invests in women, people of color and LGBTQ+ founders. Hamilton is also the founder of Hire Runner, a labor marketplace that connects startups with operations people looking for part-time work.
About Backstage Capital
In 2015, Arlan Hamilton founded Backstage Capital—building it from the ground up while homeless. The Los Angeles-based VC firm has invested millions of dollars in more than 200 companies led by underrepresented founders, including Altro, Lorals, Civic Eagle, Mahmee and One/Off.
See Backstage Capital’s investments
Co-founder of StartOut, an LGBTQ+ nonprofit promoting equality and combating discrimination in business. Alongside Kuda Biza, he also co-founded Nunbelievable.
Co-founder of StartOut, an LGBTQ+ nonprofit promoting equality and combating discrimination in business.
Co-founder of StartOut, an LGBTQ+ nonprofit promoting equality and combating discrimination in business. He’s also at managing director at Gaingels.
With the support of JP Morgan Chase & Co., the firm released The StartOut Pride Economic Impact Index, a groundbreaking research initiative that measures the contributions LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs make to the larger economy and calculates the unrealized potential.
See StartOut’s investments
Founder of Gaingels, a Vermont-based VC firm that was founded in 2014 and that invests in companies that embrace LGBT leadership, diversity and inclusion.
CEO of LOUD Capital's Pride Fund 1, a $10 million venture capital vehicle that invests in companies led by LGBTQ+ founders or firms serving that community.
An angel investor, philanthropist and founder of private wealth firm TAWANI Enterprises. She is considered the world's first and only known transgender billionaire.
Co-founder of StartOut, an LGBTQ+ nonprofit promoting equality and combating discrimination in business. He’s also CEO of cryptocurrency hedge fund BitBull Capital.
VC and co-founding partner at SoGal Ventures, one of the world’s largest communities of diverse entrepreneurs and investors with 40+ chapters worldwide.
About SoGal Ventures
Co-founded by Pocket Sun and Elizabeth Galbut SoGal Ventures, is the first women-led, next generation venture capital firm. It focuses on early-stage diverse founding teams in the US and Asia, and aims to be the strongest ally for its portfolio companies. The firm has made investments in 77+ startups across the world, including Everly Health, Lovevery, Function of Beauty and Real.
See SoGal Ventures’ investments
Founder and CEO of Pipeline Angels, a group of angel investors who serve as the friends and family round for entrepreneurs—particularly trans and cis women, agender, gender non-confirming, nonbinary and two-spirit founders.
About PitchBook’s LGBTQ+ founders, entrepreneurs and VCs to know list
For the people and firms included on this list, we considered their visibility in digital spaces, including on topics related to entrepreneurship, investing, LGBTQ+ people in tech and/or advocacy for LGBTQ+ people and other underrepresented groups in investing. This list is not exhaustive or wholly complete, but rather meant to shine a light on some of the key players making noteworthy moves in the industry.
Suggest an addition
To suggest an LGBTQ+ founder or investor for a future update to this list, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
The links in this list
Most of the links included in this article, with the exception of social media links, will take you to a PitchBook profile preview. Our profile previews provide a cursory sense of the types of robust data and insights PitchBook clients can access with their subscription.
More on diversity in VC Quantifying LGBTQ+ impact and unrealized potential
How StartOut uses PitchBook to help quantify the unrealized potential of LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs
Black founders and investors
66 Black founders and investors to watch
Female founders and investors
81 female founders and investors to know
More on PitchBook’s data coverage
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