Competitions / Coworking / Startups

WeWork’s $20-million awards program for creators is coming to NYC

The coworking giant is looking to invest in entrepreneurs like Tori Deetz of Visual Magnetics.

A chance to explore science. (Photo by Flickr user TESFox, used under a Creative Commons license)

Earlier this year, WeWork announced the launch of its Creator Awards. It’s a $20-million global pitch competition in which the coworking giant gives prizes ranging from $18,000 to $360,000 to entrepreneurs, artists and professionals in creative fields.

One regional edition of contest hit Washington, D.C., earlier this year, which our sister sites in D.C. and Philly covered.

Next month, WeWork will award another batch of prizes right here in New York City. The prizes fall into three categories — incubate, launch and scale — depending upon the stage of the project, company or organization. Winners from the latter two categories will advance to the global Creator Awards, which will be held early next year, also in New York City. For-profit companies that win will receive prizes in the form of SAFE investments, the same type of contract Y Combinator uses to convert its cash investments into equity. Other winners will receive cash prizes.

Applications are open until Tuesday, Oct. 24.


This week, WeWork held an informational event for the Creator Awards at its City Hall location, which featured a panel of entrepreneurs. The event opened with a brief word from two of the winners of its regional awards in Washington, D.C., Bob Logue and Christian Dennis of Quaker City Coffee in Philadelphia.

Brooklyn was in the house, too. One of the panelists, Tori Deetz, is the cofounder and creative director of Visual Magnetics, which develops magnetic wall coverings and textiles and is based in WeWork’s South Williamsburg location. At its root, Deetz said, Visual Magnetics is a materials science company. It launched, in fact, when her father, who owned a signage business, developed a new material but was unsure of its possible application. That’s where his daughter stepped in.

“We gave something that was very general a purpose,” she said.

Visual Magnetics’ products have since been used for several interactive art projects, including installations at WantedDesign’s Industry City location and at Holyrad Studio in Clinton Hill. But the company’s first big break came from WeWork itself. Deetz pitched her company’s product at one of WeWork’s demo nights, back when the coworking company only had a handful of locations. Her pitch was such a hit that WeWork asked if her company could create wall coverings for all its locations — while noting that it planned to launch locations nationwide at a brisk pace.

It was a gargantuan request to ask of a small startup that wasn’t prepared to scale so quickly, Deetz recalled. But she decided to take a chance on the challenging yet lucrative opportunity. Today, Visual Magnetics’ products can be found in some 70 percent of WeWork locations.

“We built our company literally on the walls of WeWork,” Deetz said.

She’s also hoping that WeWork can provide her company one additional boost. Yep, she plans to enter the Creator Awards.

Series: Brooklyn

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