[ December 23, 2019 by Shelby Newsome 0 Comments ]

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.


[ December 6, 2019 by Shelby Newsome 0 Comments ]

Creative Technology Help Startups Win Velocity

Winston Salem, NC – December 9, 2019 – Three startups have earned the top seed-stage investment awards for creative uses of technology in the Center for Creative Economy’s Velocity Creative Accelerator.

In the organization’s fourth annual education and seed funding program, ten creative entrepreneurs completed a 9-week entrepreneur education program that refined their business plans and pitches to investors to be one of the top three startups to split a pool of $50,000 in seed-stage investment.

Live Furnish, Winston-Salem, NC, andNew Delhi, India,a technology innovation company that has reinvented how home furnishings and textile companies bring their products to life in photographs, took the top award of $25,000, presented by INMAR CEO, David Mounts. “Our technology has been in development for two years, so Velocity came along at just the right time to help us refine our presentations, allow us to work with mentors in our core industries, and kick-start our discussions with investors,” said the company’s CEO, Preet Singh. Started two years ago in India, Live Furnish was invited by Director Betsy Brown into Winston Starts Explore Program, a startup incubator that provides office space and supportive services to Winston-Salem entrepreneurs. They also received a $5,000 technology services award presented by CFO and Co-Founder, Balint Gaspar from Sightsource, a cutting-edge custom software development and consulting company in Winston-Salem. 

Tokyn from Winston-Salem gamed their way to the second award of $15,000 with their startup that empowers board gamers to discover new games at wholesale prices and connects local like-minded players through the company’s app. The company’s co-founders, CEO Evan Kline and CFO, managing partner, Houston Goodwin, were active participants in Velocity. “This was a valuable program that helped us fine-tune our business concept and plan. We gave our final pitch to the investors and to over 200 people who came to Demo Night. We are looking forward to also joining Winston Starts.” Tokyn also received an award for legal counsel from Kilpatrick Townsend that provides pro bono legal services to all the Velocity seed funding winners. They also received a software development package for $2,000 from Sightsource to develop their app.

Running third, receiving $10,000, was Elevate, founded by Mike Schmid in Winston-Salem. The company helps orthotic practitioners provide the best care by using data, software and 3D printing to create hyper-customized orthotics that fit and keep athletes in the game. Elevate will also join the Winston Starts Explore Program.

Daryl Shaw with Royalty Marketing presented a marketing and social media award for $2,500 to Winston-Salem’s AstraHive, a cloud-based “dashboard app for bizzy creatives” that aggregates information and data from third-party applications into a platform that allows crafty creators to manage key statistics about their businesses.

Winston Starts also welcomed iScribble (Raleigh, NC) into the Explore Program to help relaunch its universal online drawing software where artists collaborate with one another in real time. This means the iScribble team will regularly work in Winston-Salem during the eight-week program. The company also received a $3,000 award from Sightsource to accelerate its development efforts.

42 companies from 11 countries applied to participate in this year’s program. Of the 10 companies selected for the program, 70 percent were run by female entrepreneurs and half of the teams have people of color in their leadership. The other companies that completed the Velocity program included:

  • 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.
  • Bloom Collective (Winston-Salem, NC): Promotes economic opportunity through environmentally and culturally sustainable handmade products that cultivate social good.
  • The GINA Project (Columbia, MO): Developers of a gamified platform to help individuals who suffer from anxiety disorders lead empowered and balanced lives.
  • Momtography Club (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.
  • The Nexus Center (San Francisco, CA, Portland, OR): Offers an integrated approach to “fitness,” and provides classes that help manage stress, craft meaningful purpose in your life, and create authentic connections with others.

With the 2019 Velocity cohort, 40 companies have now participated in CCE’s accelerators and 87 percent are still thriving. “Our startups have raised $3.3 million in funding and generated $3.6 million in revenues” added CCE Director, Margaret Collins. “Our accelerator has proven its success in creating more than 66 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 Center for Creative Economy is a non-profit organization that helps launch, grow, and accelerate creative businesses.  

[ September 10, 2019 by Shelby Newsome 0 Comments ]

Beryl Young + Momtography

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

[ August 22, 2019 by Shelby Newsome 0 Comments ]

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

[ April 19, 2019 by Shelby Newsome 0 Comments ]

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 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