How we’re partnering with Calgary Downtown Association to accelerate a million square feet in Downtown Calgary

The pandemic has continued to have devastating effects on our downtowns and main streets, impacting business owners, space owners, tenants and residents. It accelerated disengagement downtown, emptied office towers, and exposed weaknesses in real estate and retail proformas modeled on foot traffic levels and inflexible leasing structures. It will be years before we see downtowns return to full activity. But even with the shift to work-from-home and hybrid workstyles, 74% of office workers still desire to work from the office in some capacity (JLL, 2020). …

Recently, I participated as a panelist at an event series called Founders & Makers organized by Susan Charara, herself an entrepreneur. During our pre-panel coffee chat, we talked about what we could explore during the panel and our backgrounds. At one point we talked about where she thought Founders & Makers could go long term, but more importantly I wanted to know why she started the series in the first place.

Founders & Makers panel with Jenna, Raj and Susan / Photo: @nancpricephotography

I would often get asked the same thing as we were getting initiatives like artsScene, TEDx and Startup Edmonton off the ground. All the organizing — meetups, democamps, festivals…

A re-introduction, an update, and what we’re building at the intersection of brand, culture and physical space.

Every year during the holiday break, in between all the family gatherings, and catching up on my Netflix ‘watch later’ list, I get a chance to analyze the year that was and update the roadmap ahead.

A refresher: my new company Makespace was born after joining forces with my partners Dennis Lenarduzzi and Joe Johnson who had built a successful design studio behind multiple award-winning advertising campaigns, brand identities and restaurant spaces; and Tim Hengel, who led Booster Juice’s retail growth from 99…

Reflecting on the adventure building Startup Edmonton, challenges for our community, and thinking about what’s next.

A few weeks ago during Startup Week, I quietly tendered my resignation as the CEO of Startup Edmonton and Director of Entrepreneurship at Edmonton Economic Development. After eighteen months since our acquisition, I came to realize that it was the right time to leave Startup Edmonton in a place where it could continue to be a platform to grow our community beyond my leadership.

As I look back over the last five-plus years on this journey to grow Edmonton’s startup community, it’s amazing to…

Why the path to true diversification in Alberta is about leadership and communities, not industries and political parties.

The glorious bubble of Alberta is cracking.

Thousands of new people and talent are moving in our cities and communities. Hundreds of entrepreneurs are building in Alberta, producing and exporting across all industries. Innovators are creating new cures for diseases, new methods for production, and new materials for building. Graduates from our schools are heading out into the fast-changing world to make a difference.

But I can’t help but feel that something is still holding us back.

Alberta has been changing over the last few years, whether some of our leaders accept it or not.

If anything, the tumbling price…

Last week, we celebrated as four founders and two longstanding companies left the nest to grow in their new offices.

In the spring of 2012, we received an application for our inaugural Preflight course at Startup Edmonton. I emailed my co-founder Cam Linke and went back and forth about whether or not we could help this founder. After all, we were two guys who didn’t know a thing about the women’s fashion and footwear business. But we thought the basics of customer and product development surely applied here too. That founder, Justine Barber, came to our Preflight course ready from…

How to rethink the role of local government and economic development organizations in entrepreneurial communities.

In his book “Startup Communities”, Brad Feld talks about the roles of leaders and feeders in an entrepreneurial community. Entrepreneurial communities work when entrepreneurs lead the way by building companies and organizing community activities. It’s when the feeders (everyone that does things that are inputs into the entrepreneurial community like lawyers, investors, incubators, government) try to be the leaders, things break down.

Photo: Kris Krug / TED

The other side of the table (the feeders)

In the last ten years, I’ve made the transition from being an entrepreneur building tech companies, to an entrepreneur building grassroots community, to…

Why investing in artists is as important as entrepreneurs, scientists and engineers in our communities. It’s not about the product they produce — it’s about the people.

After focusing the last few years growing Startup Edmonton, I’ve recently found myself re-engaged in the arts community as the returning co-chair for artsScene Edmonton. artsScene is a national initiative by Business for the Arts aimed at connecting young professionals with the arts. It was one of three community building initiatives we started in 2009 (that included Startup Edmonton and TEDxEdmonton). …

We’re experimenting with a new pop-up retail and studio space for designers, brands, and entrepreneurs at the Mercer Warehouse.

We’re always cooking something up at the Mercer Warehouse. We like to think of it as a big creative lab where we can work with smart, creative entrepreneurs as they turn their ideas and dreams into reality. A place where we can experiment and just try new concepts out.

Re-opened in May 2012, the Mercer Warehouse has become home to some of the city’s hottest startups, studios, meetups, eateries, and hangouts: Berlin AD+PR, Fabloomosity, GURU Digital Arts, Mercer Tavern, Mitre Media…

Some exciting news about the future of Startup Edmonton and what we’re doing to scale up our growth and impact.

Our first ever Edmonton Startup Week has come and gone — and it was a blast. In the lead up to Startup Week, I reflected on how our startup community has evolved and grown over the last five years. In that post, I talked about the need for a long term view for the continued growth of our community. Startup Week shined the light on more than just Startup Edmonton, but the community as a whole.

So what do the…

Ken Bautista

Partner at Makespace Group. Accelerating innovation and investment in downtowns, one million square feet at a time.

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