The Center for Creative Economy’s Velocity Accelerator Demo Day looked a bit different this year, but the talent, energy and innovation in the 2020 cohort remained as strong as ever.
Nine finalists — spanning six cities, three countries, and a variety of creative industries — pitched their ideas to both live and virtual audiences Thursday evening in culmination of the nine-week accelerator, which was offered online this year due to COVID-19.
Since July, these entrepreneurs have strengthened their ideas through a robust combination of coaching, mentoring, and CCE’s startup curriculum, which was developed in collaboration with a professor from the UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School and focuses on customer development, financial forecasting, business model, and product-market fit.
"CCE provides a bridge to help creatives cross that river to create a company that is sustainable, exciting and energetic."
“Our startups have made huge strides each year. The 2020 cohort is no exception, and I’m sure will do very well as they launch their companies,” said Margaret Collins, Founding Executive Director of CCE.
A musician herself, Collins started CCE and the Velocity program as a way to connect other creatives with the skills they need to successfully start and manage their own businesses.
“I have a passion to help people connect, so I’m trying to help these people who have amazing talents and have a wonderful artistry to cross that divide. CCE provides a bridge to help creatives cross that river to create a company that is sustainable, exciting and energetic,” she said.
Since its inception in 2016, Velocity has now launched over 40 companies, with 90% still in business, having made $8.1 million in revenue, raising $7.4 million in investments, and has created over 177 jobs.
“We are working hard to build this ecosystem that supports entrepreneurship because we recognize that’s how our city will grow,” said Mayor Allen Joines during this year’s Demo Day celebration.
“Economic development is sometimes only viewed as bringing in big companies, and really only 10% of a community’s new jobs come from this recruitment. The bulk of those [new jobs] will come from expanding existing businesses and helping new businesses get started and grow,” he said.
"We are working hard to build this ecosystem that supports entrepreneurship because we recognize that’s how our city will grow."
This year, the top three startups that will split a pool of $50,000 in seed-stage funding included Chelsea Goodwin, who took the top prize of $25,000 with The Agent Accelerator (Winston-Salem, NC), an online training tool that provides coaching for new real estate agents to thrive.
Fernando Fonseca secured $15,000 for LiveMo (Seattle, WA), a concert live-streaming platform focused on providing listeners with high-quality audio and artists with an intuitive way to share and monetize their content. Camille Heard was awarded third place with $10,000 for FELOH (For Everyone’s Love of Hair) (Cleveland, OH), a social marketplace for hair care and beauty.
All four startup teams from Winston-Salem were also given entry to the EXPLORE program at Winston Starts, a new opportunity for entrepreneurs to test drive the resources, space and fit of Winston Starts for eight weeks, rent free. These teams included Æli Dell with UpShots, Josh McGee and Paige Harlow with Y’all Company, Inc., Chelsea Goodwin with The Agent Accelerator, and Rahel and Mathew Heinecke with MAXIMYZ.
Congratulations to all of this year's participants and the winners! And thank you to the team, mentors and volunteers at the Center for Creative Economy for all the work you're doing to support creative entrepreneurs in our community, and beyond!
You can find more details about Velocity and the 2020 cohort, here.
Missed the event? Watch it, here.