Creative Arts Competition


Tekuma curates and stages Airbnbs with art. We provide a cost effective way to improve the aesthetics and rental appeal of space, allowing Airbnb hosts to capture higher revenue through more bookings and better ratings. The platform is a one-stop shop for online art curation and distribution. Our mission is to display millions of artworks in physical spaces and activate millions of generic spaces with unique art by emerging artists.


Image: Tekuma installation in MIT, Building 7, 2014. Photo: Courtesy of Tekuma.


This startup competition is designed to encourage arts-focused startups at the Institute. The $15K prize is offered as a grant to help launch the winning enterprise and enable the recipient(s) to join the ranks of MIT’s most successful startup founders.

The Creative Arts Competition offers more than just a prize; in addition, all teams will have access to specialized programming at the /START Studio, MIT’s own arts entrepreneurship incubator and maker space. This new development promises to make 2016’s class of startups the best to date!

The /START Studio programming is designed to accelerate all ventures during the competition period. Teams will receive mentorship from past prize winners as well as distinguished faculty and alumni from MIT. This mentorship will include pitch preparation, business plan coaching, customer development advising and more.

Teams are expected to develop their business plan over the course of the competition, with assistance from mentors, workshops and staff support. In late April, the Finalists as chosen by our preliminary judges, will submit a pitch deck and present their venture to a live judging panel for their chance at $15,000.



We are looking for ventures that meet the following criteria:

  1. Your venture has arts at its core: this means your idea either directly promotes the arts or features arts as an intrinsic part of the mission or business model.
  2. The team must include at least 1 current MIT student. Currently registered MIT students include all full-time and part-time undergraduates, graduate students, and post-doctoral candidates.
  3. Each team may enter only one idea.
  4. Submissions must be the original work of the submitting team.
  5. The Judging Panel reserves the right to disqualify any entry.



1. What does it mean to have arts and design at the core of a business?

  • Your business must create, integrate or promote the arts as its primary goal. Examples are: new web platform that connects artists; a game company that focuses on music; a network designed to promote artistic culture; a company that licenses an algorithm used to collect data points on songs for better searching and disseminating. As long as the arts and/or design are critical to your business plan, you are eligible to compete.

2. How do I apply?

  • The link to the application is posted under the Submission of Entries tab.

3. What is the judging process?

  • A panel of leaders from the Arts at MIT will review all the applications. A group of semi-finalists will then be reviewed by our panel of expert judges. Judges may include former and current MIT Visiting Artists, entrepreneurs in the creative industries, local artists, MIT alumni and leaders of the Arts at MIT.
  • In the initial round, the judges are looking for potential. Make sure to clearly define your vision and potential impact, as described in the Criteria section and the Application itself.
  • In the semifinal round, the judges are looking for more mature development of that potential in the business plans, with a clear understanding of your roadmap to success.

4. When will the /START Studio Programming be held?

  • Most mentorship and advising sessions will be held on Wednesdays during the 5-7pm time slot at the /START Studio in W20. Additional sessions will be held at different times as needed.

5. I’m not ready to apply to the Competition; can I still join the / START Studio?

  • The /START Studio arts incubator is currently at capacity; more space may open up later in the semester. Applications typically open at the beginning of each semester and student teams are admitted after a brief interview and orientation sessions.

6. I want to attend the final judging and award ceremony. When will it be held?

  • The Creative Arts Competition Finals will be held on stage during the 100K Award Ceremony on May 11th. Stay tuned for details.

7. Can I apply to both the 100K and the 15K Creative Arts Prize?

  • Yes, we encourage teams to also apply to the MIT 100K Entrepreneurship Competition. Our programming will not only prepare you for the Creative Arts Prize, but also support teams applying to the final Launch stage of the 100K.

8. Who do I contact with questions about the $15K MIT Creative Arts Competition?


Image: A group pitches during the 2015 Hacking Arts Competition. Credit: Will Gerlach.

Our distinguished panel of jurors for the 2016 $15K Creative Arts Competition include:

Eran Ergozy, ’95

Musician and Chief Technical Officer & VP of Engineering of Harmonix Music Systems

Eran Egozy is the co-founder and chief technical officer of Harmonix Music Systems, one of the pre-eminent game development studios in the world, having developed more than a dozen critically acclaimed music-based video games. Harmonix was founded in 1995 on the principle that non-musicians should be able to experience the joy of making music. Beginning in 2005, Harmonix developed Guitar Hero and Guitar Hero 2, fueling the explosive growth of the music games category to over $1 billion in sales. In 2006, Harmonix launched the innovative and award-winning title Rock Band. The blockbuster franchise grew to include Rock Band 2, Rock Band 3, and The Beatles: Rock Band. Harmonix is also the creator behind the ground-breaking hit titles, Dance Central and Dance Central 2, the first fully immersive, no-controller dance games for the Kinect. Eran and his business partner Alex Rigopulos were named in Time Magazine’s Time 100 in 2008, Fortune Magazine’s Top 40 Under 40 in 2009, and USA Network’s Character Approved awards in 2010.
Eran earned his B.S. and M.S. degrees in Electrical Engineering and a Minor in music performance from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.


Marc Steglitz, ’65

Chief Operating Officer at the Guggenheim Museum, New York

Marc Steglitz joined the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation in July 2002 as Chief Operating Officer. He served as Interim Director of the museum from September 2007 to December 2008. At the foundation, his responsibilities include finance, administrative oversight of affiliate museums, human resources, information technology, facilities, security, visitor services, and exhibition management. Steglitz also oversaw the award-winning restoration of the Guggenheim Museum in New York.
Steglitz completed his BA at the University of Michigan and his MS at the Sloan School of Management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.


Marcel Botha, ’06

Entrepreneur, engineer, architect and inventor

Marcel Botha founded 10xBETA, a Product Management consultancy overseeing product research, conception, development, manufacturing and launch events on behalf of their clients. 10xBETA’s work spans the consumer, medical and automotive sectors, supported by a global team with specialist experience in every aspect of product and service innovation.
Marcel is a design engineer with a background in computation, assembly engineering and innovation consulting. He has helped innovate financial products, medical diagnostic devices, consumer Internet technologies, and iPad applications.


Guilherme Marcondes

Artist, filmmaker and 2013 MIT Visiting Artist

Gui Marcondes is a filmmaker from São Paulo, Brazil known for combining different live action and animation techniques to create immersive worlds with a strong focus on art-direction. This style has been applied to projects from TV spots to interactive content for clients as such as British Gas, Google, Hyundai, Audi and Pepsi.
Marcondes is a former Visiting Artist at the Center for Art, Science and Technology. At MIT, Marcondes expanded his work into the terrain of video games in a workshop to develop and prototype spatial narratives. His visit provided an opportunity for writers, producers and programmers to work together on simulating a future environment.


Mary Hale, ’09

Artist and Designer at Shepley Bulfinch

Mary Hale is a graduate of MIT’s School of Architecture and Planning where she completed a Masters degree in Architectural Design. While at MIT, Hale developed considerable experience designing and constructing one-to-one scale projects meant to engage the human body. In 2015, Hale was the recipient of the highest award given to associate AIA members

Wednesday Workshops

Held at the /START Studio, MIT’s own arts entrepreneurship incubator and maker space, workshops provide the opportunity to mix, mingle and learn more about the $15K Creative Arts Competition.


Past Workshops


Business Models & Marketing Strategy for Creative Arts Ventures

April 20th, 2016 / 5:30-7:00pm
/START Studio, W20-429

Join us for expert advice from Jessica Knopp-Gwynn (CMO of Depict; Creative Arts Competition Winner, 2013) on how to build out a successful business plan and marketing strategy. With 20+ years of experience across start-ups and Fortune 500 organizations, Knopp-Gwynn offers expertise in business models, e-commerce, digital marketing and scaling creative arts venture



MIT $100K & Sandbox Innovation Fund Workshop Day

April 9th, 2016 / 9:00am-1:30pm
Grier Room, Building 34-401

Join the MIT $100K & Sandbox Innovation Fund for a day of helping your team to prepare for your pitches through design, public speaking, and presentation tips. The event is free, but registration is required!


Perfect Your Pitch

April 13th, 2016 / 5:30-7:30pm
/START Studio, W20-429

Enjoy one-on-one time with our panel of experts! Receive tailored advice and concrete next steps to prepare you for your moment in front of the judges.


Understanding your Customer (Design Thinking Workshop)

March 30th, 2016 / 5-7:00pm
/START Studio, W20-429

So you’ve got a creative, innovative product or idea. How do you ensure people go crazy over it? This week’s workshop leader Beth Altringer (Lecturer, Harvard Graduate School of Design) runs the Desirability Lab at the Harvard GSD, where she uses design and psychological research to help innovators embed desirability into products. Beth will offer our finalists insight into design, innovation and understanding their customers. This workshop is only open to $15K applicants.


Creative Arts Competition Application 101 & How to Prep for 100K

March 2nd, 2016 / 5-7:00pm
/START Studio, W20-429

With 4 days until the Creative Arts Competition deadline, Alessandra Henderson & Natalie Pitcher, Co-Directors of the Creative Arts Competition, will assist with applications and answer questions. We’ll also help connect you to other resources on campus; featuring speaker Monique Guimond, Managing Director of the MIT 100K Competition.


How to Become an Entrepreneur in the Arts

February 24, 2016 / 5-7:00pm
/START Studio, W20-429

First we’ve talked about how to start your venture, now let’s talk about you! If you have a specific question or need, arts entrepreneurs will be on hand to address it.


Examining Your Value Proposition

February 17, 2016 / 5-7:00pm
/START Studio, W20-429

Trish Cotter, Entrepreneur in Residence at the Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship, will advise applicants to the $15K Creative Arts Competition on their project proposals and applications due Sunday, March 6th.




Armoire is a ‘closet as a service’ that connects designers with consumers by providing a rotating stream of rental apparel curated for customers through a machine learning algorithm. The algorithm will derive its efficacy through a novel data structuring process similar to Pandora’s music genome, as well as the volume of data created through the frequent rotations of clothing. Designers will benefit from detailed and frequent customer feedback, as well as direct consumer purchases.



Chibitronics aims to combine art making with circuit building to engage more broader and more diverse audiences in learning and creating their own technologies. We invented the circuit sticker toolkit to enable artists, educators and makers to build circuits using arts and crafts techniques– learning circuit theory while engaging in a new medium for self expression. By introducing engineering through arts and crafts, we make circuit building magical, friendly and fun.



IndianRaga is an online arts education portal where anyone can learn Indian arts from anywhere at their own pace and time, and find opportunities to perform and shine. Students can sign up for curated video modules, connect with instructors for live feedback, get certified, be featured by us to millions of audiences. In the last 2 years we earned $250K from 1000+ students in 25 cities. Globally this is a $7 Bn opportunity to bring beauty, expression and balance into people’s lives through arts.


MAPS (Media and Art for Public Space)

MAPS (Media & Art for Public Service) is a social enterprise that provides art and media based educational programming for teens. MAPS focuses on ending public health concerns and promoting public service by helping develop our teens into peer leaders in their communities. Our approach is founded in critical theory and complemented with artistic practices which helps our students reach other youth via word of mouth and social media to promote healthy and public and community service messaging.



Masque is a virtual reality distribution platform for theatrical content. We aspire to create more accessible, affordable, and immersive theatrical experiences. By transcending space and time, we will unite performers and audiences to build a global community that engages in the next evolution of dramatic art.


Roots Studio

Roots Studio digitizes art from rural villages and transforms them into high-end and storied products, eliminating the burden of a costly supply chain. In 2 years, we have worked with hundreds of tribal artists across 4 states in India. Through our design hubs, we enable artwork to be uploaded and discovered by retail markets that appreciate culturally authentic designs. Our vision is to build a world in which artists can financially sustain their livelihoods while keeping their roots alive.



Virtual reality is the future of engaging storytelling. At Virtuo, we give artists the ability to sculpt the space inhabited by the audience by creating a canvas for walkable VR film. Peek over Gordon Ramsay’s shoulder. Join Paul McCartney on stage. Explore the Guggenheim. Be part of a new form of expression. Our goal is to build this novel medium by designing the technology to capture these spaces. It’s up to you to create them.


Image: LuxLoop works on their “VHX Prize” winning hack for Film, TV & VR. Hacking Arts 2014. Credit: Ahmad El-Nemr.

TapTape (formerly SoundSpark)

TapTape (formerly SoundSpark) is a music crowd-funding site that works with labels, allowing fans to co­-invest in an artist’s record deal and receive a share of revenues. By working with the world’s most influential labels, they allow fans to connect with label-curated artists before they blow up.

Chris Nolte launched TapTape in summer 2015 to wide acclaim.




Forbes: “Meet TapTape, A Startup For Investing In Musicians And Sharing Their Profits”

Entrepreneur: “This New Crowdfunding Platform Lets Fans Invest in Music Artists’ Success”


Image: Christopher Nolte and Ana Villanueva of SoundSpark are presented the prize by Leila Kinney, Executive Director of Arts Initiatives at MIT on May 14, 2014. Photo by L. Barry Hetherington (formerly Mediuum) (formerly Mediuum), a new online platform, helps people discover, display and enjoy art digitally by bringing new art to any wifi-enabled device with a screen. The team of MIT graduate students, computer programmers and artists was awarded $10,000 for the best arts-focused business plan.

“Coming from MIT, the prize establishes our company at the intersection of art and technology.” -Kim Gordon of

The team includes:

Shambhavi Kadam: MIT (B.S. Aerospace Engineering ’06), MIT Sloan (MBA ’12)
Kimberly Gordon: Columbia (B.A. East Asian Studies & Chinese Literature ’08), MIT Sloan (MBA ’13)



( was previously named Mediumm)

Bloomberg Businessweek: “New MIT Business Plan Competition Takes on the Arts”

MIT Campus News: “Arts at MIT add an artistic boost to the Institute’s entrepreneurial scrum”

Worth Magazine: “Q&A with Kim Gordon”



Photo: Kimberly Gordon and Shambhavi Kadam are presented the prize by Sam Magee, Manager of Student Art Programs at MIT. Photo by L. Barry Hetherington.