As SFR reported earlier this week, MIX Santa Fe—the force behind a series of popular social networking events and founding entity of local business incubator bizMIX—is no more. All we can say is RIP, MIX, we'll miss you (and the feeling that things are happenin' for this town's younger and edgier crowd). In June, MIX lost the contract it's held with the City of Santa Fe Economic Development Department for the last ten years to Creative Startups, another Santa Fe-based start-up accelerator. The company was started 13 years ago to fill a niche for creative entrepreneurs who don't fit the profile for most traditional tech focused accelerator programs. Since then, the company has helped grow creative businesses all over the world, including Meow Wolf. We spoke with co-founder and CEO Alice Loy to learn more.
What's the advantage of focusing specifically on businesses in the creative sector?
We were born out of recognizing the need that creatives both in Santa Fe and beyond have in terms of growing their creative businesses. The creative economy is at the heart of who we are in Santa Fe and New Mexico, and there weren't resources that were directly dedicated to creative entrepreneurs. In fact, when we started the program, we could not find any accelerator program anywhere that was specifically designed by and for creatives. But think about your own spending—how much do you spend now on film and music and interesting food and tourism and media? The growth in the creative economy in the US is around 4% to 5% annually, and yet the support system is still lagging.
What can we expect now that Creative Startups has partnered with the city?
Many of the opportunities for our entrepreneurs who are home grown lie in connecting them to opportunities that lie outside of New Mexico, and we make those connections happen. This year we're doing our pre-accelerator program in Santa Fe targeting food and food innovation businesses. So food sector businesses that are tackling big problems such as climate change, hunger, and that are using innovation, technology, new business models to tackle those problems and bring them forward.
Sounds very Santa Fe, but how does food fit into the greater ecosystem of creative entrepreneurship?
In many ways food constitutes who we are as a people. Of course in New Mexico its all about chile—it's part of our heritage, it's part of our culture, it reflects the landscape around us, and that cultural connection is creative. Most large food and agriculture systems have moved away from having an intimate connection to place and people and heritage, but communities and markets are wanting to see that connection rebuilt.