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Announcing 10 Finalists for Velocity Creative Accelerator

2020 Velocity Creative Accelerator

Winston-Salem, NC (August 11, 2020) – The Center for Creative Economy has selected 10 creative entrepreneurs to participate in the organization’s fifth creative accelerator. Velocity is an intensive high impact program that helps creative entrepreneurs discover their target customers, develop business models, and develop a go-to-market strategy. Top startups in this 9-week program will split a pool of $50,000 in seed-stage funding. 

40 startups from 11 U.S. states and 11 countries globally applied to participate in this year’s accelerator. Of the 10 startups chosen for the program, 50% are run by women entrepreneurs and 50% are founded by people of color.

Velocity will be in session July 28 to October 2 and engages a curriculum developed by Professor of Practice at the UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School, Chris Mumford. This rigorous, street-smart curriculum is organized around the themes of Create, Tell, Sell, and Run, focusing on customer development, financial forecasting, business model, and product-market fit. Startups will also work with professional mentors to guide them through the program.

Due to COVID-19, the entire program is being offered online for those not able to meet in person. CCE will continue with its in-person components, which began with Kick-Off Weekend in Winston-Salem, August 7th through the 9th. Six startups joined CCE for the opening event to jumpstart the program, introduce the cohort and mentors, and catalyze their workflow. 

Participants are invited back to Winston-Salem for Velocity Week taking place September 27th through October 2nd. Post Velocity, startups have the opportunity to continue to work with their mentors and showcase their business to prospective funders. 

Since its inception in 2016, CCE’s creative accelerator has launched 40 companies, with 90% still in business, having made $8.1 million in revenue, raising $7.4 million in investments, and having created 177 jobs. “Our startups have made huge strides each year. We are proud of their great work serving customers and growing their businesses. The 2020 cohort is no exception, and I’m sure will do very well in the marketplace,” says, Margaret Collins, CCE’s Founding Executive Director.  

This year’s cohort is using their creative talents to bring innovation to their industries:

  • 2923 Comics (Kansas City, MO): Creates comic books that show the abuse of power in underserved communities, and how to overcome it. Founder Jauquan Herron showcases a wide representation of diverse urban communities within the stories. 
  • The Agent Accelerator (Winston-Salem, NC): A real estate franchise model and community that provides training and coaching for new real estate agents to thrive.
  • FELOH (Cleveland, OH): A social marketplace for hair care and beauty. Social activity within the platform allows users to earn cash to go towards purchases within the FELOH store. Brands have the ability to post products for purchase.
  • LiveMo (Seattle, WA): a concert live-streaming platform focused on high-quality audio, that makes it easy for artists to share and monetize their content.
  • M1ND 6YM (Winston-Salem, NC): Strengthening mental fitness through uniquely themed interactive, immersive, and engaging brain game adventures both online and in-person.
  • Mobiiuz (Lyon, France): A patented add-on for standing desks that encourage users to naturally maintain a healthy posture and expend energy without fatigue while working.
  • OWOGAME (Malaga, Spain): A wireless suit that allows players to feel over 30 different sensations in real-time while playing video games, and controlled through a mobile application, which allows users to increase or decrease the intensity of the sensations.
  • Upshots (Winston-Salem, NC): A line of premium alcoholic desserts and savory shots in individual servings available through bars, restaurants, and caterers.
  • Wavelength (Philadelphia, PA): A creative agency that helps musicians build their brand and enhance their creative direction by connecting them with a global network of creatives.
  • Y’all Company, Inc. (Winston-Salem, NC): Uniting people through food and Y’all Sauce, southern charm in a bottle.
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2020 Kinetic Boot Camp Wrap Up

On February 29, CCE welcomed our first cohort of the Kinetic Boot Camp for a full-day, action-packed Kick-Off event. CCE selected nine creatives with ideas for unique businesses, who then completed a four-week hands-on learning experience to turn their idea into a business. Kinetic helps creatives determine their business’ unique value proposition to get ready to launch. 

Our cohort wasted no time getting to work during the Kick-Off workshop. Taking advantage of Leap Day, the Kinetic cohort, CCE staff, and guest faculty jumped right into the curriculum, covering the innovation process, talking to potential customers, developing a creative mindset, and the power to choose and recognize opportunities. Kinetic’s curriculum is sourced from CCE’s own entrepreneurial resources, the Ice House Entrepreneurship Program, and the expertise of our world-class guest faculty and mentors.

Following the 2/29 kick-off, the cohort, along with mentors and guest facilitators, kept the momentum going and met every Tuesday and Thursday evening in the month of March. The cohort learned how to:

  • Validate their creative idea
  • Deepen customer discovery and who their target customers are 
  • Focus and understand the benefit their business provides 
  • Begin developing a business model
  • Understand how to build a budget and a 12-month forecast
  • Design marketing tools
  • Discuss legal structures and concepts
  • Create mission, vision, and value statements

Like many of you, our business operations shifted to working from home given the restrictions introduced by COVID-19. The Kinetic cohort, mentors, and facilitators stopped meeting in person and began holding sessions via Zoom. Even though we had to quickly pivot to meeting online, the cohort remained engaged and eager to finish Kinetic strong. In-person breakout groups were replaced by Google Hangouts and Zoom breakout rooms, but the cohort’s enthusiasm to share their latest work with each other and the mentors did not wane.

On March 28, Kinetic ended with a full day of content and all cohort members giving a three-minute pitch to their peers and mentors. Awards were given to cohort members based on their three-minute presentations, and marketing collateral. Awards included consultations with Royalty Marketing, Sightsource, and Kilpatrick Townsend and business coaching with ActionCOACH – Team Hauser

We could not have done this without our guest faculty and mentors:

Alyson Francisco
Michael Fulks
David Gilbert
Rick Leander
Judd Meinhart
Daryl Shaw
Liana Thompson
Dick Vann

Here are some things cohort members has to say about their experience:

“I can’t believe how much I learned in 4 short weeks! I intend to use a number of the mentors from Kinetic professionally as Aeswap moves forward”

“Kinetic was like dropping into the safety of a nest as a baby entrepreneur and having all these fabulous mentors bring me morsels of knowledge from many different perspectives. It was safe, fun, engaging, inspiring and empowering. I now have a more well-rounded understanding of how to run a business. I’m a fledgling!!!!!!”

“I can’t believe how much useful information, world-class mentorship, and concrete tasks were packed into four weeks. It has given me the framework for going ahead in my business and I am eternally grateful. I look forward to carrying through with the tools provided and sharing my successes.”

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Velocity’s Top Winner Interviewed by Furniture Today

Furniture Today’s Associate Editor, Anne Flynn Ear interviewed Preet Singh, Founder of Live Furnish. Preet is a member of the 2019 cohort of CCE’s Velocity Creative Accelerator.

Live Furnish has reinvented how home furnishings and textile companies bring their products to life in photographs. Preet founded his company in New Delhi, India but since completing Velocity, he has relocated to Winston-Salem, NC.

Read Preet’s interview on Furniture Today.


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Beryl Young + Momtography

Beryl Young helps moms use photography as a tool to reignite their creative spark and build greater confidence while raising kids. 

Beryl understands the stress and overwhelming nature of the role and has developed Momtography, a creative business solution to help moms capture the joys in life without adding stress.

Beryl is part of the 2019 Velocity Creative Accelerator cohort, joining us from Lovettsville, Virginia. She stumbled upon Velocity through a late night of Googling. “I knew I needed a cash flow intervention for Momtography, and a friend recommended looking into loans or investors”, says Beryl. After finding Velocity, she knew that it would be a supportive space to explore her options. 

In 2009, Beryl and her husband found out she was pregnant and began researching the cost of newborn photographers. After finding out the cost, Beryl decided to purchase her own DSLR camera to capture memories of her growing family. 

Four months after finding out she was pregnant, Beryl lost her first daughter. Instead of using the camera she bought to document this exciting time in her life, Beryl used it to process her grief and healing.

A year later, Beryl found out she was pregnant again. She now has a healthy, vibrant nine-year-old daughter. While Beryl was on maternity leave, she created Momtography – a community for moms to capture, develop, and preserve what matters most in their life. Momtography is for the mom who wants to learn how to use their new camera, and for the mom who is an aspiring professional photographer.

Beryl comes from a family of entrepreneurs. Her dad, mom, and sister are all entrepreneurs as well. “There’s definitely a thread that runs through our family, so it’s no surprise that I started my own business”, says Beryl.

Even though Beryl grew up surrounded by entrepreneurs, she did not always have an entrepreneurial spirit. “I was that person that was checking all the boxes and following all the ‘shoulds’”. After graduating from college, Beryl became a teacher. She always knew she wouldn’t teach forever, but she didn’t know what her next move would be. 

Photography was a side gig during her time as an elementary teacher for 10 years. It wasn’t until her need for creativity wasn’t being met that Beryl decided to go full-time with Momtography in 2013.

Beryl Young | Momtography | 2019 Velocity Creative AcceleratorSince going full-time in 2013, Beryl has launched online and in-person courses that break down technical photography, step-by-step. After teaching these courses locally, she realized that moms really enjoyed being in a community and talking with other moms.

Beryl is building a movement that bridges in-person and online learning. Through her time with Velocity, Beryl developed the idea to build in-person Momtography Clubs. It’s all about the community for Beryl. It’s about self-discovery, telling your life story, and making meaning from it.

Beryl has big dreams for Momtography. She wants to see Momtography Clubs in every state and internationally, write a book, and start an annual conference. With the many goals and dreams, education is still at the core of what Beryl does. “If I’m able to spread creativity into the world, and with moms especially, that’s going to filter down to their kids and hopefully into the education system”. 

See Beryl and the Velocity startups in action on Demo Night on September 26. Explore demo tables and hear each team’s pitch. This is your chance to discover the next big thing in creative entrepreneurship!

Demo Night is presented in collaboration with Wake Forest Innovation Quarter and  Venture Cafe Winston-Salem

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Melissa Capps + AstraHive

Melissa Capps is on a mission to make data fun and efficient for creative entrepreneurs who keep track of their business online. She is the founder of AstraHive, a dashboard for creatives that allows business owners to see data and key metrics in one place.

Melissa is a part of our 2019 Velocity Creative Accelerator cohort. She was encouraged to apply by colleagues at SightSource, a software development firm in Winston-Salem, NC. CCE’s mission of helping creatives immediately resonated with her.

She and her husband moved to Winston-Salem a year ago and wanted to make new connections. Being part of the Velocity cohort gives her the opportunity to be part of the creative community in the place she now calls home while giving her startup the time and attention she feels it deserves. 

Entrepreneurship comes naturally to Melissa. “I’ve always been creative and I love to learn and teach. I ran side hustles throughout high school and always had several jobs since I was a teenager”, says Melissa.

Before AstraHive, Melissa started a women’s clothing line. In 2010, she read something that made her decide to become an entrepreneur. She began asking herself what her strengths were and after realizing she has been sewing since she was a child, the women’s clothing line came alive. 

“Entrepreneurship has always been a part of me – it was always inevitable.”

Often creatives don’t see themselves as entrepreneurs. “It’s not that creatives don’t take themselves seriously – they’re passionate about what they do”, says Melissa, “sometimes creatives feel like they just make things and sell them”.

Melissa feels like creatives don’t realize that their skill set and their creations are valuable to the economy and contribute to the community. She said, “creatives take the skills and resources they have to solve a small problem in their community — and that’s important”.

Melissa Capps, Founder of AstraHive | Velocity Creative Accelerator
Melissa with Jason Drass, Velocity Creative Accelerator mentor and Co-Founder Bull & Beard.

After seeing a hole in the market for creatives to understand and track key metrics and trends in their businesses, Melissa decided that becoming a software developer could enable her to create a tool to help creatives like herself. 

To her, success is learning, teaching, and helping others, while bringing people on a journey with her. It’s the reason why she became a software developer. It’s why she wanted to build AstraHive before it even had a name. 

Looking at data and metrics can be daunting and overwhelming for the creative who just wants to make things and sell it. With AstraHive serving as a central hub for key metrics for businesses, Melissa hopes to make data fun and efficient, not just dissemination of information. 

“Brené Brown said, “stories are just data with a soul” and that’s what AstraHive is. It’s the story behind the data”, says Melissa.

Melissa shared that success for AstraHive would be employing people and helping them develop their skill set as software developers. In the long-term, AstraHive plans on implementing machine learning and big data to better present key insights to everyday business owners who may not have the resources to do so otherwise.

Outside of wanting to help people, Melissa’s family and friends are what keep her going, especially when things don’t seem to be going right. She shared that her husband often asks her, “what is the worst that can happen?” and that saying has become a mantra for her. Lately, Melissa’s been asking herself “what is the best that can happen? How can this failure turn out to be a success?” Melissa believes that not all failures are permanent, and that good things can come out of them.

See Melissa and the Velocity startups in action on Demo Night on September 26. Explore demo tables and hear each team’s pitch. This is your chance to discover the next big thing in creative entrepreneurship!

Demo Night is presented in collaboration with Wake Forest Innovation Quarter and  Venture Cafe Winston-Salem

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Velocity: A New Creative Accelerator

Applications open on April 9 for the Center for Creative Economy’s fourth annual Creative Accelerator, an education and seed funding program that helps creative entrepreneurs develop business models and identify resources for growth.


Hosted by the Center for Creative Economy in Winston-Salem, NC, participants complete a 9-week virtual program, now titled “Velocity,in which the top three startups split a pool of $50,000 in seed-stage investment. Companies throughout the world can apply. Go to to apply by June 2, 2019.

Running from July 30 to September 27, “Velocity” uses a rigorous educational curriculum developed by Professor of Practice at the UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School, Chris Mumford. His program, titled “Joe Startup,” uses a street-smart entrepreneurial education portal organized around the themes of Create, Tell, Sell and Run. Participants interact with whiteboard animations, a startup plan builder, and a social network to create an immersive learning experience for creative entrepreneurs. “Chris and CCE have collaborated to deliver this revitalized curriculum which combines the startup experience of both parties,’” said CCE Director, Margaret Collins.

Velocity Winston-SalemTen teams will complete 24 modules and case studies over nine weeks, working with professional mentors to guide them through the program. New in 2019 is an in-person kick-off weekend, August 9-11 in Winston-Salem, for participants to jump-start the program and work with their mentors/peers. The five-day DEEP DIVE, from September 22-27, lets teams work with directly global visionaries and creative leaders. The ever-popular DEMO NIGHT returns on September 26 where teams showcase their innovations to funding prospects, businesses, and the media. The Final Pitch Competition will be held on September 26, when the $50,000 in seed-stage funding will be awarded.

According to the 2018 Creative Startups Impact Report issued by CCE, 30 companies have participated in the program and 87 percent are still thriving.Our startups have raised $3.1 million in funding and generated $3.4 million in revenuesadded Collins. We are a program with proven success in creating more than 50 jobs and helping creative entrepreneurs succeed. We’re especially proud of the fact that 70 percent of the founders of the companies in our program are women- or minority-owned.”

Learn more about Velocity and how to apply:

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Meet Joanna Haboon and Liz Simmons

We are all extremely thrilled to have two interns at CCE this spring! Both are driven young women that have contributed to many different tasks in CCE. Whether it is researching new ideas or prepping for our events they are always willing to lend a helping hand. Additionally, their passion for the visual arts is hands on and reflected in their personalities. Please read a little more about each of our interns below, and thank you Joanna and Liz for joining our team!

Joanna Haboon is the new marketing intern at the Center for Creative Economy. She is a student attending the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG), and studies both Arts Administration and Studio Art. She is a second-generation immigrant with three siblings and has relatives all over the United States. Her older sisters taught her how to draw when she was young, and from there she has explored different mediums, both digitally and traditionally, to make art.

A goal that she hopes to achieve in her education includes learning about marketing and its relationship to the creative community. Furthermore, she wishes to learn more about new technologies and how to use them in art. She hopes that her future career will involve providing artists with the opportunities they need to continue working from their passion.

Additionally, conversations in animation, game development and sequential art are areas of interest for her and she intends to place them in the canon of art history. Some inspirations for her personal art include the subjects above, as well as music, architecture, and fashion.


Liz Simmons is the new operations intern for the Center for Creative Economy. She is currently a junior at Salem College majoring in Art History and Economics. Liz is interested in the intersection of art and business and is particularly interested in the global art market

At Salem, Liz currently serves as the secretary and treasurer for her campus activities board where she coordinates events for students in and around Winston. In her free time, she enjoys painting, watercolor is her preferred medium, scouring Mega Thrift and Snob for good deals, and eating Korean BBQ pork tacos at Quiet Pint. While interning for the Center for Creative Economy, she is excited to meet Winston creatives and learn about businesses’ evolution in the Triad.


When you see them around be sure to say hello they would love to meet more of our community!

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Center for Creative Economy Announced as Grantee of the 2018 NC IDEA ECOSYSTEM Grant

NC idea Grantee

“NC IDEA, a private foundation committed to supporting entrepreneurial ambition and economic advancement in North Carolina, announced today that the organization is awarding thirteen grants, totaling over $1.5 million to organizations throughout the state that support the Foundation’s vision to empower North Carolinians to achieve their entrepreneurial potential.

“Today’s announcement is the Foundation’s largest single funding to date, bringing our total in ECOSYSTEM grants to nearly $3 million to 24 organizations over the past two years,” said Thom Ruhe, President and CEO of NC IDEA. “By partnering with these organizations, we create greater opportunity for the statewide exchange of ideas, experiences and connections,” Ruhe added.”

Read the full article here.


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Three Creative Startups Are Winners of $50,000 From The Center For Creative Economy

Center for Creative Economy Winners 2018

 The 2018 Creative Startups Winston-Salem Winners Margot and Trevor Toppen of Edumotion, Wendy Hickey of ArtPop Street Gallery, and Kevin Clark of Point Motion


“During the past two months, ten creative enterprises completed an 8-week business educational program and came to Winston-Salem, NC, to compete for a split of $50,000 in seed stage investment offered by the Center for Creative Economy as part of the world-class Creative Startups Southeast Accelerator program. In North Carolina alone, creative industries generate $14 billion in wages, salaries and benefits and are a driver of the state’s economic future.”

Read the full press release here.

Recent news articles:

Yes! Weekly – Three Creative Startups Are Winners of $50,000 From The Center For Creative Economy


Want to learn more about Creative Startups Winston-Salem? Learn More here. 

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Center for Creative Economy awarded Parsec Prize


May 3, 2018 Asheville, N.C.

Parsec Financial, an independent fee-only wealth management firm, announced today it has awarded The Center for Creative Economy (CCE) a Parsec Prize for 2018. The CCE will receive $20,000 to connect and promote the creative industries in the Piedmont Triad.

Founded in 2011, the CCE serves as an advocate for creative industries and entrepreneurs; those businesses and organizations that make or market products and services associated with innovation, aesthetics, design or culture. CCE serves as a catalyst for innovation among creative industries promoting connectivity and job growth in North Carolina’s Piedmont Triad; WinstonSalem, Greensboro and High Point.

“Our mission is to Launch, Grow, and Accelerate Creative entrepreneurs and businesses,” said Margaret Collins, founding executive director for The Center for Creative Economy. “This award will fund our 2018 Creative Startups accelerator which focuses emerging Creative Entrepreneurs on the business skill development they vitally need to turn their promising businesses into companies that can grow and scale.”

Locally and nationally, there is a severe lack of resources for creative entrepreneurs. The funds will support marketing outreach to creatives in NC and the Southeast, license fees, books, hotel, food and other course expenses. This accelerator program is uniquely suited to startups scaling not just in their region, but also around the world.

“We are excited to award a Parsec Prize to the Center for Creative Economy in Winston-Salem,” said Daniel Johnson, senior financial advisor with Parsec Financial. “As a small business that has been around since 1980, Parsec and its founders are big supporters of the entrepreneurial spirit. Awarding this prize during Parsec’s first year in Winston-Salem is reminiscent of our humble beginnings in Asheville. We can’t think of a better way to begin our support of the Winston-Salem community, than to support an organization so closely related to our own roots.”

For more information on the Parsec Prize, you can visit

About Parsec Financial:

For over 35 years, Parsec Financial has provided financial planning and investment management services to Western North Carolina and beyond. With over $2.5 billion in assets under management as of December 31, 2017, Parsec provides investment management, retirement planning, and estate and trust advisory services. The mission of Parsec Financial is to help clients set financial goals, create an investment strategy in accordance with those goals, and maintain this focus through long-term investment management. For more information on Parsec Financial please visit: MEDIA CONTACT Donnie Funderud Zander Guinn Millan 704.333.5500

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