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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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Discover the Next Big Thing in Entrepreneurship

Ten finalists in “Velocity,” the fourth annual education and seed funding accelerator for creative entrepreneurs, will present their innovative business concepts during DEMO NIGHT.  Velocity is presented by the Center for Creative Economy (CCE) in Winston-Salem, NC.

During DEMO NIGHT the 10 companies will showcase their initiatives to media, funding prospects and businesses.

The 10 entrepreneurial companies have been participating in a 9-week education and mentoring program that culminates with the top three startups splitting a pool of $50,000 in seed-stage investment.

At DEMO NIGHT, you can explore the demo tables and hear each team’s pitch.

NEW THIS YEAR: Funding awards will be announced at the event.
DATE: Thursday, September 26, 2019
TIME: Doors open at 5PM. Program begins at 6PM.
LOCATION: Biotech Place, Wake Forest Innovation Quarter
575 N. Patterson Ave., Winston-Salem, NC

NOTES: The event is FREE. Registration is required at:   https://www.centerforcreativeeconomy.com/2019-demo-night

  • Free drinks and food, while supplies last.
  • The event is free and open to the public.

DEMO NIGHT is presented in collaboration with Wake Forest Innovation Quarter and  Venture Cafe Winston-Salem!

ADDITIONAL DETAILS

42 companies from 11 countries applied to participate in this year’s Velocity program.

Of the 10 companies selected for the program, 70 percent are run by female entrepreneurs and half of the teams have people of color in their leadership.

From July 30 to September 27, “Velocity” used a rigorous 24-module educational curriculum developed by Professor of Practice at the UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School, Chris Mumford. CCE licensed Mumford’s curriculum and created collaborative content to create the Velocity accelerator. The entrepreneurs also worked with professional mentors to guide them through the program.

The entrepreneurs will be in Winston-Salem for the five-day VELOCITY WEEK, from September 22-27 in Winston-Salem, to work directly with global visionaries and creative leaders.

According to the 2018 Creative Startups Impact Report issued by CCE, 30 companies have participated in its prior accelerators; and 87 percent are still thriving. “Our startups have raised $3.1 million in funding and generated $3.4 million in revenues” added CCE Director, Margaret Collins. “Our accelerator has proven its 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.”

The new cohort’s companies challenge old ways of doing business and offer new, creative solutions:

  • AstraHive (Winston-Salem, NC): A cloud-based dashboard that aggregates information and data from third-party applications into an efficient, easy-to-use platform that allows crafty creators to manage key statistics about their businesses.
  • Audiciones Latinas (Mexico City, Mexico): A professional web-based service for music and entertainment artists where users can cast and contact the artists they need.
  • Elevate Insoles (Winston-Salem, NC): Creators of bespoke, 3D-printed orthotics to high-caliber athletics, on demand.
  • The GINA Project (Columbia, MO): Developers of a gamified platform to help individuals who suffer from anxiety disorders lead empowered and balanced lives.
  • iScribble (Raleigh, NC): An online service that enhances the artistic community by providing a universal drawing software where artists can collaborate with one another in real time.
  • Live Furnish Inc. (New Delhi, India): A photography automation platform for the home textiles and furnishing industries.
  • The Nexus Center (San Francisco, CA): Offers classes to improve your physical, mental, and emotional health via an all-in-one membership program.
  • Momtography (Lovettsville, VA): A community for moms who want to learn how to use photography and their creative skills to capture what matters and create a life they love.
  • Bloom Collective (Winston-Salem, NC): Promotes economic opportunity through environmentally and culturally sustainable microbusinesses, including crafting, gardening/farming and catering services.
  • Tokyn (Winston-Salem, NC): Empowers board gamers to discover, connect and play new games with like-minded players at wholesale prices.

The Center for Creative Economy is a non-profit organization that helps launch, grow, and accelerate creative businesses.

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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.

Velocity

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 CenterForCreativeEconomy.com/Velocity 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: CenterForCreativeEconomy.com/Velocity

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