Ladderworks is a publishing platform of diverse picture books and online curriculum with the mission to empower over a million kids to become social entrepreneurs. Our current series features interviews by our interplanetary journalist Spiffy with inspiring Social Entrepreneurs, Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Builders, and Changemakers who are advancing the UN SDGs.
Hi everyone, Spiffy here, your one and only interplanetary journalist reporting from Planet Earth. Today, I’m thrilled to be talking to Evan Hamilton, an entrepreneur working to make the world a better place through his role as an Investor and Chief of Staff with Upfront Ventures. Are you ready to be enlightened?
Spiffy: Welcome to the blog, Evan! What challenge are you addressing through your organization?
Evan: I’m glad to be here, Spiffy! Upfront Ventures is one of the largest early-stage investment funds in Los Angeles. We are champions of the Southern California ecosystem and we also invest in emerging companies nationally and internationally. We have a passionate and curious team of investors that strives to select and nurture leading industry startups. Most importantly, we are committed to helping build the next generation of founders who are looking to make a significant impact with their ideas.
Spiffy: What motivated you to do it?
Evan: In many ways, I believe Venture Capital is one of the most direct financial instruments available to accelerate change and innovation.
Spiffy: How would you say that Upfront Ventures is working towards a more equitable world?
Evan: I believe Venture Capital is one of the most interesting instruments available to directly accelerate change and innovation. It is the intersection of practical operations, audacious goal setting, and breakthrough technology. At its best, I get a front-row seat to some of the smartest people working in their fields building something new. So what motivates me most is being at the forefront of new industries and connecting the dots between the right resources, talent, and timing.
Spiffy: Tell me about a recent organizational milestone or initiative. What impact does that make on your community?
Evan: Last year, I kicked off the “Black Wealth and Power Expansion” Series. This event brings together investors, entrepreneurs, and thought leaders in an effort to increase economic opportunities and alignment in the Black community. The tour has taken place across the country in places like Oakland, Brooklyn, Chicago, New England, Tulsa, and Los Angeles. My hope is that this initiative will create more connective tissue between mission-aligned people trying to make a more equitable future.
Spiffy: Tell me about an inspiring startup that your organization has helped to advance its impact.
Evan: One of the first companies I worked with at Upfront is a startup called Parfait. This company, founded by four talented Black women, uses AI vision technology to produce high-quality wigs. What I found so compelling about the company is that the founders identified historically overlooked problems and built a product unique to their own experience. Ironically, by working on something that may seem hyper niche, it actually taps into a larger community that resonates with their authentic mission.
Spiffy: Thanks for speaking with me today, Evan—it’s been an honor!
Evan Hamilton is an Investor at Upfront Ventures where he is passionate about DeepTech, UrbanTech, and Consumer Tools. A graduate of MIT’s Sloan School of Management and Columbia University, Evan has served as The Fund Manager for Homeboy Capital, an operator at Alta Motors, and a Senior Advisor at LACI. (Nominated by Brandon Parkes at Parkes Philanthropy. First published on the Ladderworks website on February 14, 2023.)
The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the interviewee and do not necessarily reflect those of Ladderworks LLC.© 2023 Ladderworks LLC. Edited by Anushree Nande. Spiffy’s illustration by Shreyas Navare. For the Ladderworks digital curriculum to help K-3 kids advance the UN SDGs, visit Spiffy's Launchpad: Creative Entrepreneurship Workshops for K-3 Kids and their caregivers here.