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