Founder Update 2022

2022 Founder Update


As January passes us by, we may feel we have been robbed once again of the fresh start a new year promises us. But this year it is different.

We seem to have come out of the eye of the storm. The perpetual reopening we have all been looking forward to is imminent. (Yes, I am an optimist!). This year, everything changes for the better. In 2021 we strengthened our foundations. 2022 will be all about building.

2021 Highlights

“In His Blue Gardens” by Emily Moore
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Here are a few of our notable milestones:

  • Our community has doubled in size, including the number of opportunities hosted on Zealous.
  • Integrated accessibility deep into our development process and upgraded submitting and judging on Zealous to be as accessible as possible (e.g. screenreaders, contrast ratios, tabbing, etc.). 
  • Began sharing your news in the community section of our newsletter (10,000+ subscribers).
  • We are continuing to celebrate your stories, giving away £2,500 in prizes to 10 of you.
  • Made 12 major deployments to our product – including accepting all major currencies for your opportunity, an overhaul of our payment gateway and invoicing, streamlining submitting and allowing hosts to unlock submissions to be edited by candidates (even when submissions are closed).
  • We have welcomed back some big prizes (e.g. the £150,000 in grants from the Gulbenkian Foundation, the Lumen Prize, etc.).
  • Grew our team to increase our ambition to scale up and serve you better.

Our hopes for 2022

Empower anyone to create opportunities for creators

“You are It” by M.Lohrum performed at Cooper Gallery
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Zealous was founded ten years ago in the hope to unlock more opportunities for creators. In that time, we have focussed our efforts on the tools to reduce the time and money needed to host a competition, award, exhibition, etc. 

To further reduce the barrier to entry for those wishing to host their opportunity. We have begun sharing a decade of experience covering everything you need to know if you open a call aimed at creators. It’s all there – best practice on scheduling your timelines, approaching judges, marketing your call effectively., etc.

The Ultimate Guide to Taking Submissions also allows those who run a callout to refine their process, make it more inclusive and amplify their impact in supporting the creative industries.

But that is not all! We will also be launching a new initiative to support opportunity hosts, giving away thousands of pounds worth of our product across the year. Sign up for our monthly newsletter to get the announcement.

A complete overhaul of how you manage entries on Zealous

“Imperfection” by Carmen M. Castañeda
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The team is hard at work rebuilding how you and your judges experience managing entries on Zealous. We will be deploying a completely new experience built from the ground up in the next couple of months. 

Expect faster loading times, more features (e.g. assigning judges to entries) and a modern UI to allow the work to shine as it is curated.

You can find a complete breakdown of the changes in this article.

Meaningful community initiatives

“We Are Not Ourselves” by Svetlana Ochkovskaya
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As the community grows, we must not lose track of our mission to support you all. 

After Zealous X and Emerge, we have been scratching our heads to understand what a larger initiative would look like with the uncertainties of the pandemic still hovering over our heads. 

Come April. We will be stopping Zealous Stories and announcing a new series of competitions. These will celebrate the incredible work based on specific themes with larger prizes, exciting judges and a deep sense of purpose. 

Sign up for our monthly newsletter to get the announcement.

Continually foster diversity & inclusion across Zealous

“Voice Like an Insect” by Angelica Trimble-Yanu
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Although the flare-ups of 2020 are fading from the public consciousness, we know our work supporting a diverse and inclusive world is not “done”. It is our small day-to-day decisions that collectively make a difference.  

In the past year, we have made progress in making our product more accessible. Improved our hiring practice and sought more diverse judges for our community initiatives. We have also tried to amplify our impact by sharing best practices to make your open calls welcoming to a broader diversity of applicants. 

There is always room for improvement; this is why we need to reiterate our commitment to the pledge we penned in 2021.

Supporting you better

“Tippler and The Crow” by Mason Matak
Image courtesy of the artist and Fatemi Publishing Co. (TUTI Books)

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With so many more of you using our services, we thought it was time to give our help files a little love.

But we did not just give them a lick of paint. We rebuilt our help site from scratch, included some videos and ensured you could find what you were looking for as quickly as possible.

Our LiveChat feature is still only a few clicks away, but our new help site will give you immediate answers when you are in a rush to make a submission or delve deeper into the details of how Zealous can help to manage entries.

Here is a sneak peek of our new help site.

Finally

Film Still from “Terminal 4” by Nigel Goldsmith
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Although the sickness inflicted on our society may be on the brink of being tamed. The echoes of the pandemic will live with us a little longer.

Some of us will run out into the streets and reclaim our freedoms immediately, whilst others will take time to heal. Some will come out of it with fewer resources; others will have thrived on the savings made working from home.

With stability returning, it will be our role in allowing society to heal, celebrating our creativity, and giving us all a reason to leave our homes and explore the world that surrounds us.

The storm has passed. Time to scrub the decks, hoist the sail and continue on our journey in building a more creative world.

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About the author

team-member

Guy Armitage founded Zealous to simplify access to opportunities in the creative sector. He was voted Guardian’s Creative Entrepreneur of the Year in 2013, has discussed the world-changing potential of creativity at TED and in Forbes; and is a proud trustee of Firstsite (Colchester) and Arebyte (London). Prior to Zealous, Guy kept the London Stock Exchange open during the 7/7 bombings and founded a creative startup in Cairo. Contact Guy

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