Ken Bautista

Top 40 Under 40 2009

Photography 3TEN

Age: 32

Job Title: CEO and creative director, CIE: Seek Your Own Proof

Why He’s a Top 40: For bringing diverse communities together to create a more vibrant, engaging city

Ken Bautista has an animation team based in Vancouver, an art director in Seattle and a character designer in Portland. They don’t need to be in the same city to create an entire “interactive story universe” geared to 8- to 12-year-olds, with characters that go on exciting new missions every month.

“The kids help advance where the story is going, and they’re part of an online community, so they have to work together to solve puzzles,” says Bautista, talking about CIE (Central Institute for Exploration), the online site he has been developing for kids, “to get them interested in science and history.”

Although the site is expected to launch in early 2010, it has already won several prestigious business startup and digital media awards, most notably from the KidScreen Summit in New York, the largest event in North America geared to children’s entertainment.

CIE is also an example of a new model of creating a world-class enterprise – a system of malleable partnerships. Bautista, who spied a gap in the area of children’s web-based learning when he was an education student at the University of Alberta, embraces collaboration, and scales up or down with local or long-distance help, depending on the project.

He could base his company anywhere there are Internet, cellphone and airplane connections, but Edmonton is where his home, family and other ad agency work are. If there’s anything missing in Alberta, he says, it’s the “really vibrant tech startup and creative community” he has seen in places like Boston and Boulder, Colo.

“We need drivers to push things forward,” he says, noting that “the people and the capital are here in Edmonton and Calgary, but it needs to be brought together somehow.”

So, to help, Bautista got involved in Digital Alberta, an organization that promotes and connects people in the province’s thriving digital media industry. Then, after stepping down as president last year, he set up an Alberta chapter of artScene, a program designed to connect under-40s from myriad disciplines via arts events and performances, not just wine and cheese mixers.

It’s “a vehicle to bring the next generation together around the creative community,” he says. “We know the appetite is there, and it’s going to keep growing.”

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