Creative Startups hosts new cohorts in NM and North Carolina - Albuquerque Journal

Creative Startups hosts new cohorts in NM and North Carolina

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Veteran Santa Fe math instructors Edward Worden, left, and Pi Luna, right, started Engaged Publications LLC. (PHOTO COURTESY EDWARD WORDEN)

Veteran Santa Fe math instructors Edward Worden and Pi Luna decided the best way to teach students financial literacy and every day use of math skills is to engage learners in real-world problems.

So they started Engaged Publications LLC to market their own creative, story-telling approach to teaching. They wrote and illustrated a new colorful, art-filled textbook and began using it in classes at Santa Fe-based Monte del Sol charter high school and Santa Fe Community College.

Now, to scale-up their business, the partners are participating in the Creative Startups business accelerator, which launched a new cohort with 10 startups on Sept. 6.

“We’re working to refine our business, prepare a second edition of our textbook, and scale up,” Worden said. “Creative Startups offers the guidance and advice we need to do that.”

This is Creative Startups’ third New Mexico-centered cohort since launching in 2014. To date, 21 companies have graduated, including business involved in everything from design, games, software and film to music, publishing and performance and visual arts.

The new cohort includes four New Mexico-based companies, and six from other states and countries, said program co-founder Alice Loy. Students are receiving instruction and mentoring online before coming to Albuquerque in late October for a week-long “deep dive” and “demo day.”

“This cohort seems especially determined to grow their companies,” Loy said. “They’re all really focused on connecting with mentors and investors.”

The program is having an impact, Loy added. According to a recent evaluation, of 21 program graduates, 80 percent remain in business today. In contrast, 76 percent of companies that applied but were not accepted have since failed.

That’s encouraging organizations in other places to license the curriculum for locally-run programs. The Center for Creative Economy in Winston-Salem, N.C. is holding a concluding demo day this week for its first 10-member cohort, which launched in August.

Participants in the latest New Mexico cohort say they’re learning a lot.

“The program covers so much ground, including branding, design, customer acquisition and financials, plus lots of mentoring and networking opportunities,” said Alex Ignacio, co-founder of Narrative Media in Santa Fe, which does visual content for online advertising.

Native Realities co-founder Lee Francis IV said he’s getting lots of guidance for his Native American pop culture business, which publishes comic books and novels focused on indigenous people.

“It’s an opportunity to connect with so many people,” Francis said.

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