The Business of Arts

With eHUB Creative, Arts students will have a place to launch their entrepreneurial ideas

Donna McKinnon - 2 March 2017

Think entrepreneurship exists only within the realm of business? Think again. With the launch ofeHUB Creative on March 22, Arts students will be able to put their imaginations to work. While the services ofeHUB - the University of Alberta's entrepreneurship centre - are available to all students, eHUB Creative represents a unique partnership between the Faculty of Arts and eHUB to support Arts entrepreneurs and to connect creative communities.

"We don't know anyone doing this, period," says Tony Briggs, eHUB co-founder (with Michael Lounsbury). "We had some individuals who were helping out the teams with logo design and brand identity and we realized how valuable that was. We thought, how do we broaden the creative framework around this? What kind of stories do you tell? We have some of the leading thinkers in cultural entrepreneurship - which is the idea of using storytelling to acquire entrepreneurial resources, so we were already predisposed to an Arts perspective to entrepreneurship."

Like eHUB, eHUB Creative will offer resources, networking opportunities and mentorship for prospective entrepreneurs who are seeking guidance in realizing their vision. In this spirit, eHUB Creative has assembled a panel of well-known Arts alumni entrepreneurs for the launch of this new initiative.

Jason Kapalka ('94 MA, English), co-founder ofPopCap Games - the developers of Bejeweled, Peggle, and Plants vs. Zombies - has been invited as the keynote speaker, and will be joined by Maggie Baird (MB&Company), Stephen Robinson (52Skillz), Tannis Davidson (My Filosophy), and Cam MacMillan (The Headhunters).

Kapalka credits a youth spent in video arcades for sparking his interest in gaming. An aspiring fiction writer (his mentors include professor emeritus Greg Hollingshead), Kapalka moved quickly from game reviewer to game creator and producer, establishing the wildly successful PopCap Games in 2000 with two business partners. The company was sold to the gaming giant Electronic Arts in 2011, the parent company of Edmonton's Bioware. While Kapalka continues to work for PopCap in both management and creative roles, he has recently taken his entrepreneurial knack in a new direction, opening theStorm Crow Tavern and theStorm Crow Alehouse, the self-proclaimed "hottest nerd bars in Vancouver." He is also behind The Mysterious Package Company, which delivers boxes filled with enigmatic items that reveal a mysterious story involving the recipient.

Maggie Baird ('12 BFA, Drama) is deeply rooted in the Edmonton arts scene. In addition to runningMB&Company, an alternative full service wedding and event planning boutique company, Baird is also festival manager ofNextfest, Edmonton's emerging artist festival, and an event planner and volunteer coordinator for the Art Gallery of Alberta.

Readers of the Faculty of Arts' WOA (Work of Arts) blog will be familiar withStephen Robinson ('16 BA, Psychology), a routine-averse psychology student who spent 2015 learning a new skill every week for 52 weeks, includingHow to Become a Zombie Survival Expert. His YouTube channel, 52 Skillz, has proven to be very popular on and off campus. Recently, Robinson created (and stars in) the documentary seriesHow To Learn Anything, which won $50,000 from the Telus StoryHive initiative.

The founder and owner of My Filosophy, Tannis Davidson ('96 BA, Canadian Studies) is the visionary behind the My Filosophy concept - a curated shop where every item in the store is handpicked and put through the "Tannis comfort and wear-ability test" before making it to the shelves. Her mission is to bring back the personalized experience of boutique shopping.

Cam MacMillan ('83 BA, History) is president and co-founder of The Headhunters, one of Western Canada's premier recruitment firms. He is also the co-founder of AfricaUntamed, a niche tour company specializing in trips to South and East Africa. The triathlete (including Ironman Florida!) has built and managed several successful organizations, and is a mentor with the University of Alberta's Venture Mentoring Service (VMS).

Briggs says that Arts students will both contribute to, and benefit from, eHUB Creative, adding that there is a "whole suite of services" that are needed nowadays to be an entrepreneurial success. "You can be a company that sells a product, but it's much more important to have stories around that, to position it in the workplace, distinguish yourself and create an identity," he says. "[With eHUB Creative], we're going to give Arts students real experiences in translating lessons in the Arts to places that are commercially relevant. We're very excited!"

eHUB Creative launch:

Date: Wednesday, March 22

Time: 4:30 p.m.

Location: Humanities L-1

Q & A, reception and tour of eHUB to follow

Click here to RSVP.