Creative Arts Competition
Building on MIT’s entrepreneurship legacy, the Creative Arts Competition supports arts-focused startups at the Institute, helping to turn students’ big ideas into successful business ventures.
A year-long challenge, the Creative Arts Competition equips a cohort of semi-finalists, selected in Fall by application, with mentors and workshops to hone their products, business models, and pitches. The Competition culminates in a spring pitch event, where finalists compete for a $15,000 prize to launch new solutions for the creative industries.
The Creative Arts Competition was established in 2013 to foster arts-focused startups at the Institute. The $15,000 prize is awarded to help launch the winning enterprise and enable the recipient(s) to join the ranks of MIT’s most successful startup founders.
Participating teams apply in the fall semester and are expected to develop their business plans over the course of the Competition with assistance from mentors, workshops, and staff support. In late April, the finalists are chosen by preliminary judges to present their ventures to a live judging panel and compete for the $15K grand prize.
This year’s competition will take place from October 2022 – April 2023 with supporting events and workshops before and during the competition period to help student teams define and refine their business concepts. Semifinalist teams, chosen by application in November, are invited to workshops designed to accelerate arts-focused ventures throughout the duration of the year-long competition. Teams receive mentorship from past prize winners, distinguished faculty, and MIT alumni and access to exclusive workshops to help them hone their business models, connect to resources, and prepare to pitch.
The $15K Creative Arts Competition is supported by the Council for the Arts at MIT.
Criteria and Frequently Asked Questions
Details about eligibility, judging criteria, and common questions.
Timeline and Application Process
Join the competition up until the application deadline on Tuesday, November 15, 2022. Watch the finalists make their pitch live on April 4, 2023.
Businesses ranging from online music mentorship to VR for the blind.
Creative Arts Competition Final Pitch Event
April 4, 2023 | 5:30-8:00pm | iHQ (E38) 7th Floor Hacker Reactor
Five teams compete to win $15,000 to invest in their arts-focused start-up.
Please join us for the final pitch event of the 2022-23 Creative Arts Competition. Months of effort from student teams culminate when five finalist teams present their arts-related ventures to a panel of esteemed adjudicators. While the judges deliberate, the competing teams participate in a Q&A with the audience, the 2022 Competition winner Emma Kaye gives an update on the Cosmosii venture, and refreshments for all attendees are served. After deliberation, a winning team will be announced and the $15,000 prize will be awarded.
Featuring live pitches from the 2023 Finalists:
Minnie Fu, MBA ‘24—cofounder
Angel Lam, Purdue ‘22—cofounder
Natcha Sophonpanich, MBA—cofounder
An AI algorithm-based marketplace that provides aspiring art owners with step-by-step guidance to artwork discovery, personalized visual curation and validating insights into the world’s emerging artists.
Gabriela Torres, SM ‘23—CEO/cofounder
Chen Huang, SM ‘23—designer/cofounder
Alexandra Rigobon ‘16, MBA ‘22—researcher
Angelica Chincaro, SM ’22—researcher
An interactive storytelling platform that uses art therapy to help patients waiting for their first psychotherapy appointment to jump-start their healing process
Wesley Block ‘22—cofounder
Lucas Igel ‘23—cofounder
A platform to help film editors become more efficient and more creative.
Divya Iyer G, MIT SDM, Founder,
Nandhakumar – App Developer
Afrin Banu – Social Media marketing
Priya Senthil – Story teller
Priya Iyer – Story teller
Karthika Kashyap – Story teller
Anjali – Story teller
Sabarish – Sound engineer
An app that helps Indian children reconnect to their roots by combining culturally-rich Indian stories with contemporary values.
Ganit Goldstein – SMArchS Computation Student at MIT Architecture, Researcher at the Self Assembly Lab
Sasha McKinlay – Alumni of MIT Architecture (MArch) 23′, Researcher at the Self Assembly Lab
Thaddeus Lee – Alumni of MIT Architecture (MArch) 23′, Researcher at the Self Assembly Lab
A venture disrupting standardized sizing in footwear to provide personalized footwear for all, whilst minimizing waste, labor, and material complexity in the manufacturing process.
Featuring an update from the 2022 Competition Winner:
The Etsy of custom goods, Cosmosii enables creators to turn their passion into profit through a community-oriented approach. This SaaS-enabled marketplace helps makers of custom goods find customers and run their business.
Resources from Past Events
IAP Course: How to Talk (and Write About) Your Arts-Based Venture
January 18-24, 2022
This series will help prepare students to present their ventures in writing and discussion in a way that is clear, concise, and compelling. The aim is to help student venture teams succeed in creating their $15K Creative Arts Competition application and equip students to effectively promote their entrepreneurial projects in “pitching” situations.
Non-Profit Business Plans with Miguel Rodriguez
Monday, December 21, 2020 / 7:00-8:00 pm
This session helps students interested in the competition’s non-profit track to build out a robust business plan by identifying target impact, stakeholders, key partners, and more. We are joined by guest facilitator Miguel Rodriguez, who is the founder and president of Athlone Artists and has held executive positions with Boston Baroque, Opera Boston, and Boston Landmarks Orchestra.
For-Profit Budgets with Kit Hickey
Wednesday, December 9, 2020 / 7:30-8:30 pm
This session is aimed at helping for-profit venture teams create a prospective budget to support your venture’s early growth. Kit Hickey, co-founder of Ministry of Supply and entrepreneur-in-residence at the Martin Trust Center will share her experience budgeting to support growth in a company’s early stages.
Non-Profit Budgets with Julia Turnbull
Monday, December 7, 2020 / 7:30-8:30 pm
This session focuses on how to create a prospective budget to effectively plan for your non-profit venture’s growth. Julia Turnbull, Assistant Director for Student Programs at the Legatum Center, will discuss her experience evaluating budgets and grant funding for the Inter American Development Bank.
Building your For-Profit Business Plan with Carly Chase
Sunday, December 6, 2020 / 5:00-6:00 pm
Carly Chase, Managing Director of the MIT NYC Startup Studio and entrepreneur-in-residence at the Martin Trust Center will be sharing guidance on how to build a strong plan for your arts-related venture. You’ll hear professional tips for building out dimensions from target customers to key suppliers and everything in between.
Building Your Value Proposition with Dr. Michael Camp
November 19, 2020 / 7:30 pm
Dr. Michael Camp, Executive Director of Entrepreneurship and Technology Innovation at Ohio State University, leads a workshop on how to build and articulate your value proposition as an arts-related venture.
2020 – 2021 Competition Kick-off Conference
October 25, 2020 / 1:00-3:30 pm
Wendy Swart Grossman and Jen Guillemin, co-founders of Creative Re/Frame, present their keynote address, “Bringing Meaning to the Marketplace: Make*Care*Strategize*Implement.” Panel discussion featuring Competition mentors and past winners of the $15K, who share their experiences, successes, and wisdom with us. Panelists include Maria Esteban Casanas and Michael Stradley (Elements, 2020 $15K Winners), Ellen Shakespear (Spaceus, 2018 $15K Second Prize), Nir Hindi (Mentor, Founder of The Artian), and Jon Corbiere (Mentor, CEO of Thought Cafe).