Hi there, I’m Ken.
I’m a founding partner at Gather Ventures, a development and media company, and lead the business and growth team at Localize, a food data startup. 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 community development organization. Here’s the story (so far).
I discovered entrepreneurship while I was studying to become an elementary school teacher 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 in the form of Trajectory, 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 14,000 square foot campus for the startup community in a hundred year old warehouse. In less than two years, we grew Startup Edmonton into the city’s entrepreneurial hub, launching over 70 startups, spawning 40 community meetups, growing membership to over 300, 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 in 2014. 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 new venture, Gather Ventures, explores this intersection of technology, entrepreneurship and urbanization. Through real estate and digital media, we’re creating new spaces and platforms to share the stories of 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.