Are you raising impact capital for the creative economy?

Upstart Co-Lab is connecting capital with creative people who make a profit and make a difference. Since launching in 2016, we have introduced a Creativity Lens to impact investing, mobilized nearly $23 million of impact capital for the creative economy, partnered with the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) to include the creative economy as a focus of their $150 million national Impact Note, and launched the Upstart Member Community of impact-focused families, foundations and arts organization with aggregate investment capacity of $1 billion.

In 2023, Upstart is launching a $100 million portfolio of funds and companies comprising the first impact investment strategy for the U.S. creative economy. Upstart’s Inclusive Creative Economy Strategy will prioritize diverse entrepreneurs leading companies in creative industries, and deliver people-focused impact: quality jobs, vibrant communities, and sustainable creative lives. In tandem, Upstart will conduct an influence strategy focused on unlocking artists, art patrons and endowed cultural institutions as a new cohort of impact investors, and the creative sector as a new source of impact capital.

If you are an entrepreneur growing a creative sector business; a fund manager investing in food, fashion, media and other creative industries — and you are seeking impact investment capital — we would love to hear from you.

Fill out this short online questionnaire to submit information to the Upstart Co-Lab team. In turn, we will:

Assess for our investment pipeline; and/or determine fit for inclusion in activities comprising our influence strategy – including research, conferences, press opportunities – where we reach other partners seeking to deploy impact capital in the creative economy. If there is a fit, we will reach out directly with more information.

We are interested in opportunities meeting the following criteria:

  • Funds and enterprises offering a financial return to investors
  • Operating in the creative economy
  • Generating, measuring and reporting on social impact
  • Raising capital within 12 months

The below industries fall within our scope of the creative economy:

  • Fashion (e.g. apparel, jewelry, accessories, footwear)
  • Food (e.g. artisanal and craft food, dining)
  • Media (e.g. film, TV, video games, music, AR/VR)
  • Creator economy (e.g. online tools & platforms providing increased earnings opportunities for diverse creatives)
  • Other creative businesses (e.g. visual art platforms, architecture & design, industrial design, toys & games)

Impact that we are seeking:

  • Access to capital for BIPOC and women entrepreneurs: Funds and companies that are led by diverse managers and founders, respectively; as well as investments in funds that are backing diverse founders.
  • Quality Jobs: Jobs that provide a living wage, basic benefits, career-building opportunities, wealth-building opportunities, and a fair and engaging workplace.
  • Vibrant communities: Activities that strengthen economic development, encourage civic engagement, build resiliency, and contribute to quality of life.
  • Sustainable creative lives: Ownership models, earnings opportunities, and pathways to wealth building that support a “creative middle class.”
  • An inclusive creative economy: Economic activity anchored in Openness & Experimentation, Diversity & Inclusion, and Tradition & Innovation that benefits artists, designers and all members of the community.

Other criteria:

  • Headquartered in the U.S.
  • Companies raising seed or series A
  • Funds must have at least 25% exposure to the creative economy in their portfolio

We look forward to hearing from you! Please reach out to with questions. We will acknowledge your submission upon receipt. Please note that submission does not guarantee a response.

Upstart Co-Lab is proud to be the creative economy domain partner
of CapShift and Small Change.