Hi there, I'm Ken.
I'm a partner at Makespace, a global development company building at the intersection of brand, culture and physical space. I'm leading the development of Factory, a retail campus for modern creators and consumers.
I've dedicated much of my entrepreneurial career working with and investing in big dreamers and community builders. As I look back, there’s been three distinct waves building an interactive agency, a games company, and a startup community. Here’s the story (so far).
I discovered entrepreneurship while I was studying education at the University of Alberta. With a focus on instructional technology and learning resources, I taught myself how to design interactive content for CD-ROMs and the web. I built games and sites for clients. This evolved into my first company, Hotrocket, an interactive studio that I grew to 15 people and earned multiple awards for our work.
I then co-founded Rocketfuel Games which started off focused on a multi-platform game adventure for tweens set in the world of a secret spy agency. We used mobile phones and real-world museums to send kids on missions that synced up with an online game. It was my first experience raising capital. We signed up companies like Discovery Kids to bring the game to market. While we had modest success with the spy game, the product lives on as a game-powered eLearning platform for industry training.
While I was working on Rocketfuel, I co-founded Startup Edmonton to help entrepreneurs in my hometown have a place to gather and connect as they started new ventures. It was what I wished was around when I started my first company just out of university. Startup Edmonton started with a “merry band of startup friends” who got together to organize hackathons, democamps (and drinks).
The initiative soon turned into a full-time venture as we set up a campus for the startup community in a hundred year old warehouse. In less than two years, we transformed the historic building into the city’s creative and entrepreneurial hub - launching over 70 startups and home to 10 creative studios, 5 restaurants, and 40 community meetups, and attracting hundreds of hackers, artists and entrepreneurs every year. At the same time, we established Flightpath Ventures, a seed stage tech fund, to invest in local companies.
We became a national model for grassroots startup community building, helping other communities grow as part of the Startup Canada Communities network. I then spent some time as Director of Entrepreneurship & Innovation at Edmonton Economic Development, after they acquired Startup Edmonton. It gave me a chance to work on broader ecosystem building, working with big companies, government, and universities. It was an interesting and insightful experience, further reinforcing my stance on entrepreneur-led ecosystem building.
Gathering generation entrepreneur
By 2050, more than 2.5 billion people will be added to the global urban population, many of who belong to a rising “entrepreneur generation” of big dreamers and community builders. This generation is driving a shift toward more flexible, entrepreneurial and collaborative work styles – transforming the way we work, build and live together in our fast-growing cities.
My current venture Makespace, continues to explore this intersection of technology, entrepreneurship and urbanization. Through real estate and digital media, we’re creating new spaces and platforms for startup entrepreneurs in different cities.
What I love most about entrepreneurship is that it isn’t simply about building businesses and creating jobs. We get the opportunity to impact and build better communities as part of the process.
“Canada Should Focus On Startup Communities”
“Ken Bautista Builds Something”
Business in Edmonton
“Stabilizing Alberta’s Boom Bust Economy”
Alberta Views Magazine
“Startup Project Puts Big Bet on Edmonton”
The Globe and Mail
Legacy in Action, Edmonton Community Foundation
“Small Cities, Big Thinking”
“Making Museums Fun for All”
The New York Times
“Next Gen Ken”
University of Alberta New Trail Alumni Magazine
I speak and write about the intersection of technology, entrepreneurship, community building and innovation spaces, working with startups, corporations, real estate developers, governments, and universities. I offer main stage keynote talks and a range of half-day, full-day, and one-week immersive workshops suitable for 5 to 20+ participants.
To book a workshop or talk, or if you have something else in mind, feel free to contact me at email@example.com.