Creative Enterprise


Q: When will applications open?
In 2019, after much consideration, ArtWorks decided to end the program. Read more about this programming update on our blog.

If you wish to learn more about the program, read the FAQ below.

Q: What kinds of businesses can apply?
Greater Cincinnati area-based creative business owners and entrepreneurs that offer creative services or artisan goods and have been established for at least two years. View last year’s finalists

To be eligible for the program, applicants must:

  • Submit a Big Pitch application, video and current business plan in order to be considered as a finalist.This includes a thorough and well-organized business plan, including cash flow statements from the last two years of operation.
  • Agree to participate in the 10-week Big Pitch mentorship program, including all mandatory meetings, workshops, and 1 on 1 meetings with your mentors (at minimum 1 hour per week, which is built into the workshop time) 
  • Apply with a business that has been in operation for a minimum of 2 years as of 9/25/2018.Businesses are not required to have been registered at the time of founding, and can be considered “in operation” from the time that it began generating revenue.  However, all applicants must submit a copy of the State of Ohio certificate from the Ohio Secretary of State and show that they are in good standing.  Applicants may also be asked to submit articles of incorporation or an operating agreement.
  • Be structured as for-profit, creative business. Business must fit into one of the following categories: Art, Beauty / Lifestyle, Community Space and/or Event, Design, Fashion, Film, Video, and/or Photography, Food, Handmade / Artisan Products, Media and Publishing, Music, Visual and/or Performing Arts, Retail that supports local artists
  • Be located in the Greater Cincinnati area.Business’s base of operations must be located within a 30-mile radius of ArtWorks Administrative Office (20 E. Central Parkway, Cincinnati, OH 45202)
  • Earn less than $250,000 in revenue and employ few than 5 employees. We will look for this information in the business plan you submit
  • Invest the grant money in measurable, long-term growth. Businesses may not pitch for a one-time project. Examples of long-term investments include: inventory, new staff, space build out, etc.
  • Use the grant money within one year from the date of the Big Pitch event (September 25th, 2018). Winners will be expected to report to ArtWorks after six months and again after one year from the date of the event to explain how the funds were used and how the program impacted the business”

Ineligible businesses include not-for-profits, restaurants and bars, tech, software and application-based businesses, and project proposals. U.S. Bank employees and ArtWorks administrative staff and their immediate families are ineligible to apply. Past Big Pitch finalists may not apply for a minimum of two years. For full eligibility requirements and rules please see our official rules.

Q: What should be in my video? 
The review committee would love to see your ability to tell your story and talk about your business. Nothing fancy — just introduce yourself and your business and tell us why you deserve to be a Big Pitch finalist. Production value and video quality are not important; we’re most interested in your public speaking skills (you’ll be pitching to 500+ people, after all).  All videos must be submitted via YouTube (you may make your link private to the public).

Q: How long will the application take to complete?

The online application form may take between 30 – 45 minutes to complete. This does not include time taken to complete your business plan or your 3-minute video, both of which need to be submitted with your application.

Q: Can I save my application and fill it out later? 

The form cannot be saved and revisited but you can print out a copy of the application to view and work on before completing the online form.

Q: How are the finalists chosen? 

After the application period closes, eight finalists will be chosen by a review committee selected by ArtWorks based on their applications, business plans and 3-minute videos.


Q: Who are the mentors? 

Mentors are established small business owners, seasoned entrepreneurs, and experts in areas that have been identified by the finalists, such as construction, investment, advertising, etc. Past  Big Pitch mentors included Jordan Vogel, Director of Entrepreneurial Ecosystem at Cintrifuse; Mike Hoeting, co-founder of Bang Zoom Design; Dan McCabe, owner of MOTR and the Woodward Theater; Randy Smith, Senior Project Manager with Jack Rouse Associates; Roger David, CEO of Gold Star Chili.

Q: How are mentors paired with the finalists? 

Mentors are assigned based on their areas of expertise related to each finalist’s needs. Those needs are identified by the finalists – in the Big Pitch application – as areas they need help with as they plan for strategic growth of their business. Personality is also taken into consideration when making matches.


Q: Who are the judges? 

A panel of five diverse judges, among them representatives from the fields of Law, Branding & Marketing

Q: Where is the Big Pitch event held? 

This year’s Big Pitch event will be held at Memorial Hall in Over-the-Rhine.

Q: When will tickets be available for purchase? 

Tickets will go on sale in July, check back at closer to the time for more information.


Q: Why am I required to be in business for at least two years?

ArtWorks Big Pitch is focused on business growth opportunities. The two-year minimum requirement is to ensure you have a solid groundwork upon which you can grow your business.

Q: Why can’t I apply the money toward a project?

We want to ensure the prize money will be used in a quantitative way to support business growth. Our goal is to measure the impact this type of funding can have on the creative community.

Q: What if I can’t commit to the workshop and event dates?

If you cannot commit to the dates for Big Pitch 2018, please consider applying another year.

Q: What should I include in my business plan?

-Cover page and table of contents
-Short and long-term goals
-Marketing plan
-Resume/qualifications of business owner(s)

– Operating Agreement or Bylaws
-Cash flow projections for next 3 years
-Financial statements from last two years of operation

Online resources to help you prepare your plan: Create Your Business Plan

The Business Model Canvas

U.S. Bank Connect



2018 Season Sponser