Calling all creatives: ArtWorks Big Pitch applications are due May 11

In a startup scene dominated by tech, Cincinnati area business owners outside of the category are often left out of the funding game. Enter Artworks Big Pitch.
Among its numerous community contributions, Artworks' business mentorship program Co.Starters is tasked with boosting the business know-how for creative and artisanal businesses in the area. Artworks Big Pitch allows Co.Starters graduates — and plenty of other local businesses — to showcase their idea for the chance at up to $20,000 in business grants.
In its second year of operation, Artworks Big Pitch is a 10-week mentorship program and pitch competition for creative entrepreneurs looking to get their businesses off the ground. Companies from across a slew of categories are encouraged to apply, with the exception of nonprofits, restaurant/bars, tech and software and application-based companies. The focus here is on businesses that offer creative services or artisanal goods; Big Pitch is the only local program of its kind to maintain that emphasis.
Artworks will be accepting applications through May 11, at which time eight finalists will be selected for the program.

Much like an accelerator program, Artworks Big Pitch pairs the finalists with a business mentor as well as a small business specialist from U.S. Bank to guide them through the development process across the 10-week span. Then, much like a Demo Day, the eight companies are offered the opportunity to pitch their business idea in front of a large live audience and expert panel of judges.
The actual pitches will occur in August, when judges will decide who receives the $15,000 Grand Prize as well as the $5,000 People's Choice award.
Last year, Noble Denim took home the Grand Prize for its sustainable approach to clothing design and manufacturing. Earlier this month the company raised over $120,000 to launch a new athletic wear line, Victor Athletics. The 2014 People's Choice Award went to Canopy Crew, a company designing custom treehouses that are kind to both the tree and the canopy-lover.
Those interested in applying to the program must be for-profit businesses established for at least two years. The contenders must also plan on investing any award money in the company long-term growth.

The application fee is $25 prior to May 6 and $30 afterwards, while Co.Starters graduates pay a discounted fee of $20. To apply for Artworks Big Pitch 2015, click here
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