2016 Impact Report

Center for Creative Economy (CCE)


The Center for Creative Economy hosts Creative Startups Accelerator and is the lead partner for Creative Startups across the Southeastern U.S. This intensive 8-week virtual program is open to all startups regardless of location. During the first 7 weeks, startups will critically analyze their business models and receive tools and training to combat tough situations. The final week all startups, mentors, and investors will travel to Winston-Salem, NC to work together and network during the Deep Dive. This week ends with a pitch competition where the top three startups split a pool of $50,000 in seed stage investment. 

New in 2017 is an additional $25,000 in support and shared services for a creative business affiliated with the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. The creative enterprise must be accepted and fully participate in the Creative Startups Accelerator, and agree to operate in or relocate to Winston-Salem. This increased support is made possible through a continued partnership with the Thomas S. Kenan Institute for the Arts. 

2017 Accelerator

Applications for 2017 Winston-Salem program are now closed.
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Why Winston-Salem

Known as the City of Arts and Innovation, Winston-Salem has a spirit and personality that drives creativity.  It is home to numerous catalysts such as Wake Forest Innovation Quarter, the Kenan Institute for the Arts, the UNC School of the Arts, the Creative Community Lab, and Flywheel. In 2017 Venture Cafe Winston-Salem launches a weekly innovation gathering.  All are part of an expanding entrepreneurial ecosystem that welcomes creative companies.

The fastest way to learn is from others who have been in your shoes. Join us for a world-class program in entrepreneurship for creative entrepreneurs. You will connect with successful business leaders who are passionate about mentoring and can help access angel and venture capital investors. In this competitive 8-week program:

  • Learn to create a scalable business model and how to sell it to investors
  • Work 1-on- 1 with global visionary creative thinkers and entrepreneurs
  • Generate exposure for your company
  • Pitch your idea to potential investors
  • Compete for $50,000 toward investment in your business

Frequently Asked Questions

 Tell me about Center for Creative Economy

The Center for Creative Economy (CCE) is our partner in who managed the program in Winston-Salem. They are focused on cultivating and expanding creative businesses and their networks. Their program Swerve is a hub for creative professionals hosting lively, informative monthly meetups, and supporting a growing online community. CCE also co-facilitates the Arts Enterprise Lab with the Kenan Institute for the Arts, and helps creatives tap into a local network of collaborators, mentors, and new business contacts.  The Kenan Institute for the Arts, the City of Winston-Salem, Shuyi Mo, and Inmar are major partners and sponsors for the Creative Startups Winston-Salem Accelerator. 


What are the dates of the 2018 Accelerator?


TBD we are working on this now! Fill out our Accelerator inquiry form and we will let you know as soon as this is announced. 


Can I talk to someone in-person about the Accelerator?


We welcome inquiries! Fill out our Accelerator inquiry form and we will be in touch. 


How long does the program last?


Creative Startups Accelerators are essentially 10 weeks in duration.  Additionally, mentorship of startups continues throughout the year.

Week 1: On-Boarding & Orientation
Week 2 - 7: Six weeks of Classes
Week 8: Prep for Deep Dive
Week 9: Deep Dive
Afterward: Follow up with “best fit” Mentors


What are the classes about?


The Creative Startups curriculum was built from scratch by creative entrepreneurs - for creative entrepreneurs.  The rigorous six-week curriculum covers essential topics for entrepreneurs in any industry.  Topics include business model development, branding, cash flow analysis, financing new ventures, legal topics, and more.  Classes meet twice times weekly with and additional peer-to-peer meeting each week - yep, it’s intense!


What should I expect for time commitment if accepted into the accelerator?


It depends on how dedicated you are to improving your business. The amount of time invested will directly influence how successful you are.

We say that you should budget at least 15 hours per week for classes, meetings, mentor time and homework. The class time will be determined by the best fit for all the cohort once accepted into the program. 



I am the only founder of my business - can I still apply?


Yes. However, we prefer teams of two founders or partners.  We will award more points to applications submitted by teams.


We are a nonprofit startup - can we apply?


Yes, but note we do not take more than one nonprofit startup per cohort. 


We don't think venture capital investment is right for our startup, should we still apply?


Yes.  We believe that VC/angel investment is only suited to some entrepreneurs, some startups.  Our Mentors include creative entrepreneurs who built their firms without outside investment and others who have successfully worked with VCs.  We will have honest discussions with trusted VCs and entrepreneurs who can offer you advice and guidance on making these decisions wisely.


I have a great idea for a business, but I haven't started my business yet - should I apply?


Creative Startups Accelerator is built for creative entrepreneurs who are past the idea stage and are actively building out their venture.  If you are just getting started with your new idea consider applying next year. 


My company is a few years old - can we still apply to Creative Startups?


Yes, you should apply!  Creative Startups has worked with companies that are still in startup phase despite being several years old.  Our judges will generally “pass” on companies that are over 5 years old AND have reached $5million in annual revenue.


Is this program restricted to only North Carolina startups?


No. We accept startups from all over the world!  Applicants are judged based on their business/startup - not location. As most of the program is hosted online your company can be located anywhere. For one week during the Deep Dive your team will need to travel to Winston-Salem, NC for 1:1 mentoring and workshops in person. 


How much is the fee?


The 2017 fee was $895 per person, once accepted into the program. 2018 is TBD.

There is no fee to apply.

Creative Startups Winston-Salem no equity in your company for participating. 


What does the fee cover?


Everything except airfare. 

(Really?)  YES! 

The fee covers all Virtual Accelerator materials, supplies, 5 days/nights lodging and food during the Deep Dive, and 12 months of mentoring.


What are the selection process and judging criteria for applicants?


The application requires submission of a short video (you can use your smartphone to make it) as well as brief written descriptions of your business, your goals, and your team's background. 

Selection criteria include: Creative and innovative contribution to your field (film, music, design, etc.); scalability; market potential; team's passion and experience.


Are there funding opportunities?



Each Creative Startups locations structure them differently.

Winston-Salem funds 3 startups at the end of the Deep Dive. The entire cohort, along with the mentors and accredited investors who join our Pitch Day, will vote to select the Top Finalists. The Top Finalist split a pool of $50,000.  We structure the investments in a mutually beneficial manner for the Top Finalists and CCE.

In 2017 Winston-Salem offered an additional $25,000 in support and shared services for a creative business affiliated with the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. The creative enterprise had to be accepted and fully participate in the Creative Startups Accelerator, and agree to operate in or relocate to Winston-Salem. This increased support is made possible through a continued partnership with the Thomas S. Kenan Institute for the Arts. 


What are the "creative industries"?


The creative industries include a wide range of sectors.  The thread woven throughout these sectors is creativity and culture, arts and expression.  According to the newly released, and first-ever estimates of the creative sector’s contributions to the US gross domestic product, the total output from arts and cultural production were $916 billion in 2011.




Meet the Winston-Salem Cohorts




CCE serves as a catalyst for innovation and an advocate for creative industries and entrepreneurs, promoting connectivity and growth. The center brings people, ideas, and resources together to benefit a burgeoning creative sector in NC. In addition to Creative Startups, its programs include Swerve, the new hub for creative enterprises in North Carolina's Piedmont Triad. 

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