Most accelerators tend to focus on tech companies. However, creative artists who are using new technologies to meet new market opportunities can take advantage of the Creative Startups accelerator program. Creative Startups is unique in that it focuses solely on the teaching and mentoring of founders in a wide range of creative industries, including design, games, software, film, music, publishing, performance arts, visual arts, new media, video, museums and education technology. The 5-day virtual accelerator partners creative entrepreneurs with mentors and investors and was built in partnership with Creative Startups by leading entrepreneurship faculty of Stanford University.
Creative Startups is now accepting applications for its 2015 accelerator program. In 2014, the Creative Startups companies raised $1 million in funding over a six-month period, and Creative Startups has connected aspiring creative entrepreneurs with successful mentors who have been responsible for launching and building iconic brands such as Fast Company, Hopeless Records, and CODAworx, among others.
Creative Startups mentors include musicians, filmmakers, designers, branding experts, and investors who invest in creative businesses. Combined, these mentors have raised over $360 million for new ventures.
With creative industries making up the fastest growing sector in the U.S., Creative Startups is seeking entrepreneurs whose startup concepts combine music, film, or design with innovation and technology. Those who join the accelerator will receive a wide array of benefits, including an entrepreneurship curriculum designed specifically for creatives, by creatives. They will also have access to investors and the opportunity to compete for $50,000 of no-interest loans for startup costs.
The application process is competitive, only 8-12 teams of founding members will be accepted. The goal of Creative Startups is to get these ventures beyond the launch stage to customer acquisition and profitability. Prospective applicants are those businesses that are generating revenues or are already profitable and have the potential for dramatic growth.
Applications are open June 1st–July 10th, and the program is open to both U.S. and international startups. The program will begin on August 31st, and all participants, along with investors and mentors, will meet for a weeklong event in October in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
“Our goal is to accelerate the success and inspire the next generation of entrepreneurial minded creatives,” said Creative Startups Programs Director Roxanne Blair in a statement. “With the great success of last year’s program, we couldn’t be more excited to announce the open application period for this year—and to have the chance to spur along even greater economic success for creatives across the nation and internationally. We want to equip these brilliant and driven entrepreneurs with all of the tools and connections they need to add to the thriving creative industry.”
Among last year’s cohort were success stories like Etkie, a company that produces and sells luxury jewelry handmade by Native American women. Since Creative Startups, Etkie owner Sydney Alfonso, has gone to Paris Fashion Week and has been the recipient of the Venture Acceleration Fund award from Los Alamos National Labs.
“I encourage all creatives with a drive to start their own business to apply to be a part of Creative Startups,” said Alfonso. “With the expanded connections and enhanced business insight I received from my mentors, I’ve been able to increase the platform from which I conduct my business and reach a wider audience, improving my ability to not only be successful—but also to increase social empowerment and make a difference in the world around me.”
In addition to Etkie, Meow Wolf, an artist collaborative has seen great success. Since the accelerator, they have partnered with George RR Martin of Game of Thrones, completed a successful $100,000 plus Kickstarter campaign, and launched a fundraising campaign to open a new interactive space this year.