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Today is a day for celebration! Not only do I turn 30, but I’ve also been promoted to Principal at Backstage Capital (and Chief of Staff at ArlanWasHere LLC) :) This year, I’ve had the privilege of sourcing and co-leading several deals including Beyond, a subscription micro-mobility company, SUMA Wealth, a platform that financially educates the Latinx community, and more deals to come!

As I take a step back and ask myself why I’m so passionate (read: obsessed) about being an investor today, it always comes back to my love for founders. My entire life, I have loved meeting and learning from people. When I was a window cleaner in high school and college, I’d enter the homes of successful individuals from all walks of life. I would always find a way to strike up a conversation with the homeowner to learn about their life story and what brought them to where they are today. To think that my actual job now is to get to know founders, their life stories, what problems they are solving, and how they are solving them is absolute heaven to me. I have no doubt that the most valuable quality I can possess as a VC is caring about people and learning about their “why.” …

Our family lost our dear Tio Juan to pneumonia at just 49-years-old last week. The type of pain and loss felt by our family is indescribable. There really are no words. It has felt so unexpected, so quick, and so unfair. But I do not want this to be a sad post. Instead, I want to celebrate my Tio’s life on my path to healing by reflecting on his legacy.

Legacy is a heavy word. In my world of tech and Silicon Valley, legacy seems to be caught up in changing the world, going to an Ivy League school, building large companies, having massive exits, being an intellectual, and having a good reputation. I believe we build legacy our entire lives through ordinary moments rather than these high-level accomplishments and grandiose acts of courage and/or risk. While those things have their place, the seemingly ordinary moments of life are what truly matter. …

What it feels like to battle deep depression

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Credit: Runstudio/Getty Images

As I reflect on another year of my life, I can’t help but think about how difficult and rewarding 2019 has been for me. I celebrated two years at my job, finally finished my bachelor’s degree 10 years after graduating high school, met cool people I look up to like Casey Neistat, and was selected for HBCUvc’s 31 Under 31. From the outside looking in, I should have been hopping out of bed like Michael Scott doing parkour through the office of Dunder Mifflin. But instead, I was severely depressed.

A year ago, I started battling deep depression. Many things contributed to it, including circumstances that I won’t talk about in this post. While I’m doing better now, I still have moments where the feeling of depression permeates my mind like drops of rain before a storm. Instead of following this dark storm of despair, I’ve learned to fight for my mental health and manage those feelings in a healthy way. …

Hacks to Help You Break Into VC

We were sitting in our Deal Flow Team meeting at SXSW a few weeks ago, and I looked around the room at each of my team members thinking about how a Harvard MBA grad, two lawyers, a designer, and me, came to be there, reviewing applications from thousands of underrepresented founders hoping to receive funding from Backstage Capital.

Our disparate paths got me thinking about the many conversations I’ve had with aspiring VCs in the past few months asking for any bit of insight for breaking into Venture Capital. …

From a retail job in Detroit to Investment Apprentice at a fast-growing VC firm

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Backstage Capital Crew at our 2-year anniversary event in SF

On March 13, 2017, still tired from working on my schoolwork the night before, I was waiting for customers to stroll through the door of our Detroit Sprint store. My least favorite part about my job as a bilingual sales consultant was helping customers with billing issues — those were never fun, especially when the customer decided to take the company’s issue out on you. As a way to escape the reality of work, I would scroll through Twitter to keep up with the latest tech news and venture capitalists that I followed.

The previous December I had discovered Arlan Hamilton of Backstage Capital and appreciated the strong voice she had on Twitter. I decided to send her a DM asking for advice and book recommendations as an aspiring VC. I was like a wide-eyed kid in awe over their favorite athlete when I saw her response. Her recommendation: Venture Deals by Brad Feld and Jason Mendelson. Naturally, I hopped on Amazon that minute and was reading the book two days later. …

Entering my birthday weekend last year, I was glad to be done with work and enjoy a weekend with my then girlfriend (now amazing wife). I was particularly excited that night because we were going to be watching ABC’s Shark Tank with special guest Chris Sacca. Chris is someone that I highly look up to. Who is this Sacca character you ask? Chris founded Lowercase Capital, one of Silicon Valley’s most successful VC firms, investing in companies like Instagram, Twitter, and Uber. Needless to say, his attention is highly coveted by founders trying to raise money for their companies.

We had just finished dinner when I was scrolling through my Twitter feed and noticed Chris tweet…

I once heard someone say, “If you see someone like you do something, you can do it too.” That has always stuck with me because, all too often, it is easy for all of us to make excuses as to why something can’t be done.

“I’m not a U.S. citizen.”

“I’m a minority.”

“I can’t speak English properly.”

“I don’t have enough money.”

“I don’t have a degree.”

“I don’t have time.”

The list could go on and on. What most do not realize is how these excuses keep us from accomplishing our goals and dreams. I have realized this in my own life. So many reasons, so many excuses. Without a doubt, I know I want to spend my future career investing in Latino founders’ businesses and lives. But how do I get there? I’m still in school full-time, all while working as a retail sales consultant at Sprint. I’m not good enough and don’t know enough yet. I don’t have enough experience. I need to read more books first and learn everything I can. I need to watch one more episode of The Office on Netflix. Excuses, excuses, excuses. I have come to realize over the last six months that those are all just excuses holding me back from starting something great. You can’t get to your destination without starting your journey at a far-off beginning. …


Chacho Valadez

Investment Apprentice + Associate, Backstage Capital

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