39 LGBTQ+ founders, entrepreneurs and VCs you should know

LGBTQ+ founders entrepreneurs and VCs you should know

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 

Alicia Garza headshotAlicia Garza

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.

Amy Errett headshotAmy Errett

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. 

Andrew Goetz headshotAndrew Goetz

Co-founder, along with Matthew Malin, of MALIN + GOETZ, a luxury skincare and fragrance line offering cleansers, moisturizers and shampoos featuring natural ingredients. 

Angelica Ross headshotAngelica Ross

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. 

Brandy Hoffman headshotBrandy Hoffman

Co-founder, alongside Patricia Santos, of Volition Beauty, an online platform that empowers users to help create the products they’d like to see. 

Bunny McKensie Mack headshotBunny McKensie Mack

Co-founder and CEO of MMG, a Black-led and nonbinary-led social justice organization and change management firm. 

Dan Owens headshotDan Owens

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. 

Courtney Craven headshotCourtney Craven

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.

Peter Arvai headshotPeter Arvai

Co-founder and former CEO of Prezi, a cloud-based presentation software company reinventing how people share knowledge virtually. 

Derrick Reyes headshotDerrick Reyes

CEO of Queerly Health, a mission-driven startup that leverages concierge health and digital health to end LGBTQ+ health disparities by 2030. 

Fran Dunaway headshotFran Dunaway

Co-founder, along with her partner Naomi Gonzalez, of TomboyX, a gender neutral underwear and apparel brand headquartered in Seattle. 

Gina Trapani headshotGina Trapani

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

Haily Marzullo headshotHaily Marzullo

Founder and CEO of Humankind, a line of mix-and-match, gender-inclusive swimwear and active wear built for comfort and style. 

Hayley Sudbury headshotHayley Sudbury

Founder and CEO of WERKIN, a people analytics platform using behavioral science to promote diversity through modern mentoring, coaching and training. 

Isabella Giancarlo headshotIsabella Giancarlo

Founder and creative director of Tart, a New York-based branding and creative studio specializing in the expressive, unexpected and downright fun. 

Jake Bullock headshotJake Bullock

Co-founder of Cann, a line of gluten-free, vegan THC-infused beverages that aim to reshape social drinking. 

Jess Page headshotJess Page

Co-founder of Open Water, a company that sells still and sparkling water in 100% recyclable refillable aluminum water bottles and cans to curb plastic use. 

Kara Swisher headshotKara Swisher

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. 

Kelly Rakowski headshotKelly Rakowski

Founder and CEO of Lex, a social app that connects the queer community members looking to meet new friends, build relationships and have fun. 

Vivienne Ming headshotVivienne Ming

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. 

Leanne Pittsford headshotLeanne Pittsford

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.

Martine Rothblatt, Ph.D. headshotMartine Rothblatt, Ph.D.

Founder of Sirius XM and United Therapeutics, as well as Lung Biotechnology—which is working to democratize the treatment of lung diseases. 

Nicole Doucet headshotNicole Doucet

CEO and co-founder of Open Water, which became the world’s first climate-neutral bottled water company and has eliminated the need for over 20 million plastic bottles. 

Maya Satya Reddy headshotMaya Satya Reddy

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. 

Michelle Kim headshotMichelle Kim

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. 

Rachael Rapinoe headshotRachael Rapinoe

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.

Scott Lewallen headshotScott Lewallen

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. 

Stephanie (Lampkin) VanPutten headshotStephanie (Lampkin) VanPutten

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. 

Suki Sandhu headshotSuki Sandhu

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 

Arlan Hamilton headshotArlan Hamilton

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 AltroLoralsCivic EagleMahmee and One/Off.

See Backstage Capital’s investments

Bryan Janeczko headshotBryan Janeczko

Co-founder of StartOut, an LGBTQ+ nonprofit promoting equality and combating discrimination in business. Alongside Kuda Biza, he also co-founded Nunbelievable

Darren Spedale headshotDarren Spedale

Co-founder of StartOut, an LGBTQ+ nonprofit promoting equality and combating discrimination in business. 

Lorenzo Thione headshotLorenzo Thione

Co-founder of StartOut, an LGBTQ+ nonprofit promoting equality and combating discrimination in business. He’s also at managing director at Gaingels.

About StartOut
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

David Beatty headshotDavid Beatty

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. 

Densil Porteous headshotDensil Porteous

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. 

Jennifer Pritzker headshotJennifer Pritzker

An angel investor, philanthropist and founder of private wealth firm TAWANI Enterprises. She is considered the world’s first and only known transgender billionaire. 

Joe DiPasquale headshotJoe DiPasquale

Co-founder of StartOut, an LGBTQ+ nonprofit promoting equality and combating discrimination in business. He’s also CEO of cryptocurrency hedge fund BitBull Capital

Pocket Sun headshotPocket Sun

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 HealthLoveveryFunction of Beauty and Real.

See SoGal Ventures’ investments

Natalia Oberti Noguera headshotNatalia Oberti Noguera

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

List criteria

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 blog@pitchbook.com.

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 CrescentBitCapital data coverage

Don’t forget Crescentbitcapital tracks investorsprofessionalscompanies, and deals across the private market ecosystem.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *