Creative Arts Competition


This startup competition is designed to encourage arts-focused startups at the Institute. The $15,000 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 have access to specialized programming at the START Studio, MIT’s own arts entrepreneurship incubator and maker space located in building W20, as well as workshops hosted by the Martin Trust Center at the Sloan School.

The workshops are designed to accelerate all ventures during the competition period. Teams receive mentorship from past prize winners, distinguished faculty, and MIT alumni. This mentorship includes 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 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.

The 2019 $15K Creative Arts Competition is supported by the Council for the Arts at MIT


Application Deadline
February 26, 2019 / 11:59:59pm

Finalists Announced
Monday, April 8th, 2019

$15K Day, Finalists Make Their Pitch
April 29, 2019 / 12:30-7:00pm
4:30-5:30pm, Reception
5:30-7:00pm, Public Pitch and Judging

Free and open to the public, no registration necessary


Image: Roots Studio, 2017 First Place recipients of the MIT Creative Arts Competition. Credit: Lenny Martinez.

Join us to see the 8 finalist teams from the 2019 Creative Arts Competition compete to win $15,000.

Monday, April 29, 2019
5:30- Live 5 minute pitches with 5 minutes of Q and A

7:00- Live performance, Ice cream sandwiches, and Audience Choice voting

7:30- Winners announced

Event location: MIT Media Lab, Building E14 , 6th Floor
75 Amherst Street, Cambridge, MA 02139

This event is free and open to the public, all are welcome to watch the pitch!


Finalists competing are:

Along Fault Lines / team lead, Antonio Moya-Latorre
Along Fault Lines is a platform that sparks emotional recovery among populations dealing with urban trauma, such as natural disasters or social conflicts, through artist residency programs that enhance cultural exchange.

ArtNext / team lead, Maria Esteban Casanas
ArtNext turns your home into a gallery experience. They provide curated art as a subscription model and at-home curatorial services, making use of gallery and museum collection holdings. / team lead, Emily Salvador aims to combine artificial intelligence and fashion. Our company provides a unique set of machine learning powered tools for fashion designers to create new designs by collaborating with AI.

Keyframes / team lead, Shreyas Kapur
Keyframes is a powerful presentation and animation software aimed at people telling stories.

Octave Prosthetic / team lead, Sara Wilson
Octave Prosthetic crafts prosthetic jewelry for a range of congenital hand defects.

Polysong / team lead, David Su
Polysong makes interactive songs, albums, and operas in the form of video games.

Sky International Music Education / team lead, Guo Zhang
Sky International Music Education aims to bring high-quality music education resources to China. They hire young professional musicians to provide online, live, interactive video lessons through their application as well as use artificial intelligence to customize and visualize the learning process.

Tech To Learn / team lead, Mark Adams
Teach To Learn is a free online cultural-exchange and mentorship service that supports musicians in resource-poor countries by connecting them to mentors in the United States using live video and e-learning platforms.



  1. To compete, your venture must have 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. Teams must include at least one 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.



We are looking for ventures that meet the following criteria:


The team has explained how their business idea and business model fit into the arts continuum, meaning that they fairly and sufficiently address the needs of: the artist, the producer, the customer/user, and/or all other pertinent stakeholders you imagine are part of a viable arts entrepreneurship initiative. Teams that target most/all relevant arts stakeholders may score more highly, at your discretion.


The arts-focused business plan offers an innovative approach to solving a real need related to the sustainability of the arts and/or a novel way to increase the cultural and societal impact of the arts. The ideal plan can be scaled, and once implemented will have a substantial, sustainable, and measurable impact. Note that impact may not necessarily translate to profit; social enterprise and nonprofit models are also encouraged.


The pitch describes a clear strategy and milestones that the team will execute to create a financially sustainable venture. Note that some teams might have already tested their business model, while others are in the early stages of developing their plan; applicants of all stages are welcome to the competition.


The team (with at least one current MIT student) has the expertise, skills, and commitment necessary to execute their arts-focused business plan.


Pitch is presented in a professional and clear fashion.



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 include a new web platform that connects artists, a game company that focuses on music, a network designed to promote artistic culture, and 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?

  • Use the online application, link coming soon (Deadline for 2019 Competition is March 3, 2019)

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. 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.  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.

5. I want to attend the award ceremony. When will it be held?

  • The Creative Arts Competition $15K Finale will be:

    Monday, April 30, 2018 at 5:00pm
    MIT Wong Auditorium
    Tang Center, Building E51, Room 115
    70 Memorial Drive, Cambridge, MA 02142

    Free and open to the public

6. 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?

Our distinguished panel of jurors for the 2019 $15K Creative Arts Competition include:

Eran Egozy, ’95

Eran Egozy, Professor of the Practice in Music Technology, is an entrepreneur, musician, and technologist. He is the co-founder and chief scientist 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 with the mission “to allow everyone in the world 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. Harmonix then created the award-winning franchise Rock Band (including custom games featuring The Beatles, Green Day, and Pearl Jam) which sold over 13 million units. In 2010-2014, Harmonix released the Dance Central series, the first fully immersive, non-controller dance games for the Kinect. More recent titles include Fantasia: Music Evolved, a magical journey through worlds and songs inspired by the classic Disney film and BeatSports, a musical sports game for Apple TV. Eran and his business partner Alex Rigopulos were named in Time Magazine’s Time 100, Fortune Magazine’s Top 40 Under 40, and USA Network’s Character Approved awards.


Eran is also an accomplished clarinetist, performing regularly with Radius Ensemble, Emmanuel Music, and freelancing in the Boston area. He serves on the Boards of several Boston-area non-profit organizations, and mentors and invests in a number of startups in the Boston area. Prior to co-founding Harmonix, Eran earned degrees in Electrical Engineering and Music from MIT, where he conducted research on combining music and technology at the MIT Media Lab.

His current research and teaching interests include interactive music systems, music information retrieval, and multimodal musical expression and engagement.


Marc Steglitz, GM ’66

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.

Jessica Rosenkrantz, ’05

Jessica Rosenkrantz is an artist, designer, and programmer. In 2007 she co-founded Nervous System, where she currently works as Creative Director. Her work explores how simulations of natural processes can be used in design and coupled with digital fabrication to create one-of-a-kind, customized products. She studied biology and architecture at MIT and the Harvard Graduate School of Design. She is a Lecturer in the MIT Department of Architecture teaching design. Her designs have been featured in a wide range of publications, including WIRED, the New York Times, and the Guardian and are part of the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Cooper–Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, and Museum of Fine Arts Boston.

Marcel Botha, AR ’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, AR ’09

Founder of ROYHALE, an experimental interdisciplinary design practice.

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.


Jean-Jacques DeGroof, SM ’93, PhD ’02

Jean-Jacques Degroof is involved in the translation of academic research into
innovative ventures through his investment activity, teaching, and mentoring.
He has been an active angel investor in Boston and in Europe since 1999,
where he has supported the launch and growth of a number of ventures, such
as Avedro, Edaris Health, Experion Systems, Seahorse Bioscience, ZipCar,
and others. Earlier, Jean-Jacques worked as a researcher at the MIT
Industrial Performance Center. He was a Sloan Fellow at the MIT Sloan
School of Management and a BCG Fellow at the Mossavar-Rahmani Center
for Business and Government at Harvard University. At MIT, he is a member
of the Visiting Committees for the Sloan School of Management and for the
School of Architecture that report to the MIT Corporation. Jean-Jacques
Degroof started his career in the financial services industry. He obtained an
M.S. and Ph.D. in Management from the MIT’s Sloan School of Management,
as well as academic degrees from the University of Louvain in Belgium. In the
last years, Jean-Jacques has supported MIT’s Hacking Arts, a hack-a-thon at
the intersection of the arts, technology, and entrepreneurship, and the 15K
Creative Arts competition.



FIRST: Project Daredevil (Hapticomix) 
Team lead, Daniel Levine

Hapticomix makes VR for the blind using 3D radio-dramas with motion simulation via a worn vestibular-affecting device.

SECOND: Spaceus
Team lead, Ellen Shakespear

Spaceus transforms vacant storefronts into artists studios, enlivening streets and fostering connections between creatives and neighbors.

Team lead, Mitchell Gu

Helm is a wearable low-cost and easy to use 3D scanner that preserves large scale artworks by taking snapshots of our world.

Team lead, Shakti Shaligram

Piccles is a collaborative coloring application that lowers anxiety, relieves boredom, and fosters connection by engaging people in the cathartic act of coloring.




Roots Studio

Our goal is to allow craft communities to thrive and survive in this new, globalized world.

We believe that traditional art is special, unique, and worth holding on to. There are hundreds of thousands of niche traditional art forms around the world — especially India — that are slowly dying out with each generation.

We are building towards a world in which artists have the ability to financially support their families by sharing their culture and traditions in a new and innovative way. We invite you to join us!

Roots Studio uses technology to connect Indian artists from rural villages to the world. We have pioneered a digitization process where each village is connected to the larger world — they have learned how to scan in their artwork, upload corrections and edits to our proprietary site, and sell their pieces to a global community.




Tekuma’s mission is to display millions of artworks in physical spaces and activate generic spaces with unique art by emerging artists.

Tekuma curates and stages Airbnbs with art, providing 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.


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, TapTape allows fans to connect with label-curated artists before they blow up.


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”

2013 WINNER (formerly Mediuum) (formerly Mediuum), is a new online platform that 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”



Image: 2018 Creative Arts Competition Winner, 1st place, Project Daredevil (Hapticomix).