2023 Founder Update

When I founded Zealous 11 years ago, there was no way I could anticipate the challenges presented to us in the last couple of years. This year is no different, with the global economy set to challenge us all.

However, history has proved that periods of great adversity are often followed by periods of great creativity. So instead of hiding under our covers until 2024 (although it is the warmest place in the house!), we take this opportunity to vow that we will do everything in our power to add as much value to our network; this means:

  • Give creators as many opportunities as possible to support themselves and their practice.
  • Save those hosting opportunities even more time and money with richer tools to manage their entries.

2022 Highlights

“First Light” by Nadia Day

  • Our community has (yet again!) doubled in size.
  • Thirty thousand now receive our recommendations email. With an additional seventeen thousand signed up for our newsletter (thank you!).
  • A record number of you chose Zealous to manage entries for competitions, awards, grants, residencies, etc.
  • We delighted judges and admins with a beautiful new way of managing entries.
  • Zealous migrated to new real-time cloud servers hosted in the UK and EU (with downtime!).
  • We awarded thousands of pounds in prizes, raised money for charity and celebrated the incredible creators covering mental health with our first-ever Zealous Amplify Awards.
  • Our incredible team has continued to give you 5-star support.

In 2023

Creating More Value

“The Black Experience” by Chanakira

2022 saw us deploy some substantial changes to Zealous. These have provided you with a plethora of new features, streamlined experience for candidates, judges and admins and resolved a pesky issue for those behind stringent firewalls.

Many of you have validated this hard work by leaving us glowing reviews. We are the only submission management platform with a 5-star customer support rating across both Sourceforge & Capterra and are thrilled to have been awarded the coveted Sourceforge “Top Performer” badge.

Zealous showed their users love them, as evidenced by the significant amount of outstanding user reviews.
SourceForge President, Logan Abbott.

With the necessary changes made in 2022, we can now speed development on new features, and we would really like to know what you would like next. Want to comment on entries? Preview applications before submitting? Let us know by casting your votes here!

2023 will also see us restructuring our packages and pricing to allow us to better serve you. This will translate into better support for calls with large amounts of entries, reduce fees on larger payments and help emerging calls.

Meaningful Impact

“Some of us” by Charlotte Thomson-Morley

Our goal last year was to increase the positive impact of our community initiatives. We wound down Zealous Stories in favour of Amplify, an award crafted to create dialogue around a topic through art.

Mental health was chosen as the theme of our first edition after the sobering discovery that 1 in 4 of us experience a mental health condition each year. What did that mean to our community? To our clients? To our team? With so many people in our lives. We are likely to be close to someone struggling with their mental health and might not even be aware of it.

The work submitted moved us all in ways none of us were expecting. It helped us to create dialogue, share stories and educate ourselves. 

It has left a lasting legacy within Zealous, challenging how we can build humanity into our product. Amplify also had the unintended benefit of allowing our team to share their experiences with their mental health and how we could support them better.

This new format has allowed us to shine a light on untold stories whilst celebrating the incredible work created by artists and supporting their practice with cash prizes. It also allowed us to raise money for Create, a charity supporting mental health through creativity.

I am thrilled that we will once again reinvest our profits into a new edition of Amplify. We will continue to increase exposure to a topic dear to our community through art. Sign up for our newsletter for future updates on the prize.

Banishing the Z

“Bipolar psychosis ” by Kathleen McVey

The last decade has seen us use the letter Z to define our service, making it pivotal to our brand identity. However, last year, the letter Z was taken hostage as a symbol of support for the unwarranted aggressions towards Ukraine, a message that we in no way endorse.


For that reason, we set the wheels in motion late last year to find a replacement and hope to present you with a new identity that reflects our values very soon. Our thanks go to Denisa for her input and for helping this change take place.

Continually foster diversity & inclusion across Zealous

“Support Bubble & Mindfulness” by Jenny Chan

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.


Our mission to reduce the barriers to entry for creating opportunities for the creative sector has never felt so important. We promise to do our part in building the creative world we wish to see tomorrow.


In the meantime, you are welcome to email me any ideas on how we can support you better in 2023.

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About the author


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