Creative Entrepreneurs Shines a Spotlight on the Untold Entrepreneurial Stories Behind Creativity

Creative people are the ultimate storytellers - spinning tales in our favourite languages of music, fashion, film, design and art. These are the stories that move us, touching all our senses and emotions.

That’s usually pretty much where we leave it. We may know a few other things about these master storytellers – what and whom inspires them and where they hope to take their creative vision next.  But we rarely hear the other side of the story – how these people have found a way to make a living from their creativity, which, unless they’re the recipients of public or private largesse, they’ve necessarily worked out how to do. In fact many of them are doing so very successfully, overseeing their own companies, employees and balance sheets.

How do they do that? While there is a mass of available business advice, it’s almost exclusively aimed at business people. How did these creative entrepreneurs even start, given that most creative people have no interest or training in business?

This is the inside story we rarely hear. And that’s understandable. In contrast to most other sectors, the ‘products’ of the creative sector are considered more interesting than the entrepreneurial stories behind them. As opposed to, say, the tech sector – how much can you say about a photo sharing app? But mass crowds clamour to hear about funding rounds, VC investors, unicorns and IPO’s.

This also explains why the mainstream press rarely cover the entrepreneurial stories behind creative talent. They know audiences are interested in the creative output, and thus understandably tend to leave it there.

But actually, the back-stories of creative entrepreneurs are gripping – precisely because they are such unlikely entrepreneurs, in the typical sense of the word. They rarely set out on that path, but instead, being led by creative passion, have found their way, by hook or by crook, to entrepreneurial success. That leads to highly individual stories of charting the unknown, determination and overcoming obstacles.

Not only are these stories gripping, they are also crucially important. How many creative people still don’t have the role models to show them that entrepreneurship is a possible route for them? And for those already aspiring, where can they hear the stories of those who have made it, to learn how they did it?

That’s why we are launching ‘The Founder Files’, a new in-conversation series featuring leading entrepreneurs from across the creative sectors. Each instalment will feature one of them, in open and direct conversation about the ‘how-tos’, failures, triumphs and lessons learned.

Of all the support that is out there, this is what our community at Creative Entrepreneurs tell us they want most – to learn from and talk directly to these role models.  And to meet their own peers and the wider creative startup ecosystem in the process – ideally in inspiring creative spaces.

Like any potentially long-running story, we released a few initial chapters of The Founder Files to gauge audience interest. We’ve spoken to Matthew Slotover, Co-Founder of Frieze, at The Serpentine Sackler Gallery , IMDb Founder Col Needham at Second HomeCharlotte Tilbury at the Whitechapel Gallery, MUBI Founder Efe Cakarelat Working Title Films and Mills Miller, Co-Founder of ‘Monument Valley’ creator ustwo, at Tileyard Studios.

The response has been so huge and the impact so big (quite spontaneously, three creative startup investments have resulted), that we’ve decided to officially make The Founder Files an ongoing series. We mark this milestone with our Founder Files on 17 May featuring iconic fashion designer Roksanda Ilincic, which we present in partnership with The Design Museum.

Here’s to a long-run of fascinating stories we can all share and learn from.