Center for Creative Economy (CCE)

2017 Impact Report

Creative Startups Winston-Salem is now accepting applications for the Fall 2018 cohort.

The Center for Creative Economy is the lead partner for Creative Startups across the Southeast USA and hosts the annual Accelerator designed by and for creative entrepreneurs. If you are determined to grow your creative company CCE and Creative Startups will work to deliver knowledge, networks, mentors, and investors to accelerate your startup success!

This intensive 8-week virtual program is open to all startups anywhere in the world. During the first 7 weeks, startups critically analyze their business models and receive tools and training to combat tough situations. The final "Deep Dive Week" all startups, mentors, and investors will travel to Winston-Salem, NC to work together and network. The week ends with a pitch competition where the top three startups split a pool of $50,000 in seed stage investment. 

2018 Accelerator

Applications: April 3 - June 10, 2018

Onboarding/Orientation Week: July 31

Classes: August 6 - September 14

Deep Dive: September 23 - 28



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 launched 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 up to $25,000 toward investment in your business

Frequently Asked Questions


Tell me about The Center for Creative Economy


The Center for Creative Economy (CCE) is our partner in who manages the program in Winston-Salem. CCE serves as a Hub for creative entrepreneurs & business owners providing programs and resources to Launch, Grow, and Accelerate creative enterprises. Winston-Salem, “the City of Arts and Innovation,” boasts strong assets such as the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, the Wake Forest Innovation Quarter, and a vibrant startup ecosystem. CCE has helped accelerate 19 companies through Creative Startups, and many more through local programming. Its staff, mentors, & broader community are committed to supporting entrepreneurs today, and into the future. The Center hosts Swerve, a network for lively, monthly meetups, exclusive online content, jobs platform, & a creative directory. The Center also co-facilitates the Arts Enterprise Lab which encourages idea stage business development through training & strategic coaching.


What are the dates of the 2018 Accelerator?


Applications: April 3 - June 10, 2018

Onboarding: Week of July 31

Classes: August 6 - September 14

Deep Dive: September 23 - 28


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


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


We welcome inquiries!

For a list of info sessions visit The Center for Creative Economy. CCE will be streaming many of them live on facebook!

We also have an Accelerator inquiry form. Fill this out and we will be in touch.


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.  

Startups will use our custom built online course. In the course, startups will watch our video lectures from Creative Startups mentors covering the module topics, readings, templates, assignments you do for your company's growth, and discussions. A course manager will provide feedback on your submissions and push you to keep refining your business model and think BIG. All startups are encouraged to provide feedback to their peers on pitches with the goal that by the time you reach Deep Dive you have crafted both a well thought out elevator and long business pitch. 

Each week the entire cohort will meet in two live online sessions. An invited mentor will join and bring the weeks modules to life through stories, case studies, and discussions. During Creative Processing you will meet with a small peer group from the cohort and discuss how you are utilizing the modules for your company's growth and help each other. We love peer interaction!  

You should plan to work 10-15 hours per week during the Creative Startups program. Yep, it's intense!

In 2018 Creative Startups Winston-Salem will meet Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:30 - 11:00 am EDT for live online sessions. 

A basic weekly schedule looks kinda like this: 


What is the Deep Dive? 


The final week of the program ALL participants attend a five-day Deep Dive in Winston- Salem, NC. The Center for Creative Economy hosts this week and coordinates everything for the event including food, lodging, and overall schedule. 

This cohort focused gathering brings together creative founders, mentors, and investors for a highly personalized experience.

During the Deep Dive, startups participate in specialized workshops, 1:1 with dedicated mentors and two pitch events. Demo Night, is a public event where startups will present their company in a fast 2-minute pitch to the community and Final Pitches, is an invite-only closed door 8-minute business pitch to mentors and investors. The Final Pitch will determine who is awarded funding as selected by the mentors, investors and fellow cohort. Don't worry! By the time you reach the Deep Dive we will have prepared you to pitch. 

All startups are expected to attend the Deep Dive. This is a fun, fast and challenging week. After completing the online course, the Deep Dive is where you implement all you have learned and push yourself to think Bigger with the help of mentors.  



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 10-15 hours per week for classes, meetings, mentor time and assignments. 

In 2018 Creative Startups Winston-Salem will meet Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:30 - 11:00 am EDT for live online sessions. 


How much is the fee? What does it cover?


There is no fee to apply. If chosen, the participation fee is $895 per person for the entire program. This covers the online course, supplies, access to mentors and investors, hotel and food during the Winston-Salem Deep Dive. 

We cover everything except travel to the Deep Dive.

(Really?)  YES! 

Neither Creative Startups or The Center for Creative Economy take any equity in your company for participating. 


Are there funding opportunities?



Each Creative Startups location structures 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. $50,000 in seed stage funding is split among the top 3 startups. The funding is awarded as no interest loans, all equity free.

Also available in 2018 is an additional $10,000 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, as well as agree to operate in or relocate to Winston-Salem. This additional support is made possible through a continued partnership with the Thomas S. Kenan Institute for the Arts. 


Who should apply? What makes a successful applicant?


A creative company located anywhere in the world that is ready to scale their business and reach goals quickly. As much of our program is virtual, you are not asked to leave your home for this program. The only travel is for one week to attend the Deep Dive.

We are looking for companies beyond the idea stage that have some customer development and are have already or are gearing up to launch. We are one of the few Accelerators that caters exclusively to the creative industries and look for teams that continue our mission of growing the creative economy. 

The Best Applicants

  • Have a solid understanding of their customers;
  • Are driven to scale their business;
  • Are in a growing market industry;
  • Are innovative, creative TEAMS;
  • Are making progress, achieving milestones;
  • Are excited to push limits - in their knowledge, skills, networks, everything!

Application Do

  • Explain your team's vision and determination to grow the company;
  • Share the creative ideas behind your startup;
  • Discuss why your team is right for the market opportunity you are pursuing;
  • Explain what your team hopes to gain through the Accelerator.

Application Don't

  • Go on and on about your product, and never share how you will make revenue from it;
  • Try to be a typical startup - we are looking for unique, visionary and "there is no box" creative founders and companies!

What do I need to complete my application?

  • All founders resume or CV - this application requires individual founders to submit their own info on a few of the questions.
  • Basics on your company's customers, audience, recent achievements, revenue and investment, and growth potential. We do not ask for your financial statements - more looking for a general understanding of your lifetime sales and equity. Don't worry if those numbers are small or even zero. We're looking for great ideas with potential.
  • A short video. Does not need to be fancy or edited - be taken on a camera phone.
    • We ask for a 4-minute video to tell us about your company and why you're interested in the program. A list of questions you should answer are provided in the application.
    • Yes, this is required!
    • This helps us reduce the time in our review process. Think of it as your scripted interview. This allows us to see your passion for your company in a way that written responses cannot. We would never ever judge you on appearance, we strive for a beautiful kaleidoscope of entrepreneurs!

Once your video is done and you have your basics in hand, it shouldn't take you longer than an hour or two to fill out the application.

We use F6S for our application. You can start and return to your incomplete application anytime up to the deadline. Your answers will autosave! Should you have any difficulty with the application platform itself reach out to They are fast to respond - that is one reason we love using this system. 



Is this program restricted to only North Carolina startups?



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. 


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


Yes. However, we prefer teams of two founders or partners.  


We are a nonprofit startup - can we apply?


Yes, but note we do not take more than one nonprofit startup per cohort. Our curriculum does not cover specifics in nonprofit financials or fundraising. 


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 or look into our LABS program. This is designed for early stage entrepreneurs just getting started.  


My company is a few years old - should we still apply?


Yes, you should apply!  Creative Startups has worked with companies that are still in startup phase despite being several years old.  What we would like you to share with us is your traction to date and your next set of goals.

Our judges will generally “pass” on companies that are several years old and have no passion or determination to scale. We do not work with projects, we want to work with founders of companies. 


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




The Center for Creative Economy provides programs and resources to Launch, Grow, and Accelerate creative entrepreneurs and business owners.  CCE has hosted Creative Startups Winston Salem since 2016, which has launched 20 creative companies with 34 founding entrepreneurs. Its staff, mentors, & the broader community are committed to supporting entrepreneurs today and into the future.  In addition to Creative Startups, CCE hosts Swerve, a network of lively, monthly events, exclusive on line content, and a creative directory. It also co-facilitates the Arts Enterprise Lab which encourages idea stage business development through training & strategic coaching.

For more information, visit