Native American artists and creative entrepreneurs are challenged to make a living more than ever given the COVID-19 shutdown of art festivals and markets. But these challenges are not new: Native entrepreneurs have long struggled to build sustainable enterprises. These entrepreneurs often operate businesses in remote locations, far from markets and without the support of effective business resources. Thanks to a $300,000 grant from the Thoma Foundation over 3 years, Creative Startups will partner with Indigenous communities to create a Native American Entrepreneurship Portal that brings best-in-class online learning resources, peer networks, mentorship, and support to Native entrepreneurs in New Mexico, Arizona, and Oklahoma.
Services and Programming:
For over ten years, Creative Startups has provided fledging entrepreneurs in creative industries with the opportunity to build their business and raise capital through an intensive accelerator program. Headquartered in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Creative Startups serves an increasingly international community. Alumni of the Creative Startups program includes Meow Wolf, Etkie, Eat Me Ice Cream, ViaVii, and Mixtroz. Recently, Creative Startups has launched pre-accelerator labs for entrepreneurs at an earlier stage of business development, as well as the Libraries as Launchpads program, which leverages existing library resources and personnel to provide “hyper-local support to small business and entrepreneurs.”
Creative Startups reaches a global audience through its accelerator programs in the United States, Middle East, Europe, and Asia. 70% of its alumni are female or people of color. To date, their programs have created over 820 jobs with a combined estimated portfolio valuation of $335 million.
In the News:
Why We Partnered with Creative Startups:
- Development of a robust entrepreneurial ecosystem; the impact of accelerator training on participants’ success lasts well beyond the end of the formal program
- Beyond courses, participants received over 3,700+ one-on-one hours from mentors; Participants are supported by founders of major art magazines, VC and technology firms
- Extensive focus on design and technology industries with a Network of mentors and investors in the same fields and natural alignment with Native artistic traditions
- Rigorous impact assessment and self-evaluation that measures participant learning, investment, and long-term success
- Existing strong relationships and partnerships with Indigenous organizations in New Mexico, including the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center