Arlan Hamilton with Backstage Capital being interviewed by Janice Omadeke, founder and CEO of The Mentor Method at the Austin Mosaic Awards

The Austin Mosaic Awards on Thursday night recognized companies and individuals spearheading diversity and inclusion in Austin.

Naji Kelley, founder of Blnded Media and Janice Omadeke, founder of The Mentor Method, came up with the awards ceremony a year ago to shine a light on those in the Austin community helping to champion diversity.

This year’s awards, held at Google’s downtown Austin headquarters, sold out before the event with more than 300 registered to attend.

Harold Hughes, founder and CEO of Bandwagon, served as master of ceremonies for the Austin Mosaic Awards.

The event also featured Arlan Hamilton, founder and managing partner of Backstage Capital, which has invested in more than 130 founders of color, women, and LBGT founders with its $5 million venture capital fund.

Austin companies receiving investment from Backstage include The Mentor Method, Localeur, and Bandwagon

The biggest misconception about diverse founders is that they are some kind of charity or asterisk or anomaly, Hamilton said during a talk with Omadeke.

“Once underestimated people know the rules, or know what rules to break, we don’t just survive we thrive,” Hamilton said.

“So what we are trying to do is say don’t be part of this because it’s going to warm your heart,” Hamilton said “Be part of this because we will lap you in a minute.”

Companies that do not embrace a diverse workforce will lose talent which means you lose a competitive edge and they will be quickly overtaken, Hamilton said.

“It’s really about money, it’s about your edge and your place in the market,” she said.

It’s ignorant if people say they can’t find a person of color to invest in or mentor, Hamilton said. They just need to open their eyes and walk outside, and tap into tech hubs like Capital Factory, Google and tech events, she said.

“It’s uncomfortable at first, but if it’s uncomfortable for you as someone with privilege, imagine what it’s like for the person who had to take five extra steps to get in front of you,” Hamilton said.

“Just be uncomfortable for the day,” she said.

Hamilton has a podcast, the Bootstrapped VC, and has a book coming out in a few weeks so she can reach as many people as possible with her message.

And the winners of the 2019 Austin Mosaic diversity awards:

Large business: Dell Technologies

Mid-size business: WP Engine

Small business: Impact Hub

Startups: The Riveter

Nonprofit organization: Latinitas

Accelerators: DivInc

On the Rise Award: Elisa Sepulveda, regional managing director, The Riveter

Legacy Award: Colette Pierce Burnette, president and CEO of Huston-Tillotson University.