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Re-imagining entrepreneurship education

Artists are known for breaking the mould and doing things differently—so it’s not surprising that a one-size-fits-all approach to entrepreneurship education doesn’t fit their needs. Many entrepreneurship training programs follow a similar conventional model, acting like all participants are trying to get to the same place. Our programs are decidedly different. We talk a lot about systems and design thinking, which help artists leverage their own unique creativity and brilliance to achieve their personal vision of success. We’re re-imagining and reinventing entrepreneurship for creative people. In this guest post, our Director of Launchpad Programs Jerrold McGrath talks about our approach.

Catch Jerry in Vancouver on May 10 for a Master Class on Design Thinking with Arts BC!

“We’ve all heard the typical stories of genius entrepreneurs who fight against all odds, get knocked down, get up again, and finally prevail—often getting rich in the process. For the most part these stories are, if not false, at least very misleading. We get exposed to the mainstream model of entrepreneurship quite a lot, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but there are other stories, and other ways of succeeding as an entrepreneur.

Entrepreneurship is about relationships. It’s about other people.

We’re all tangled up with other people and in the systems that get things done around us. We at Launchpad need to help entrepreneurs figure out the big problems they are trying to solve and then figure out who is trying to solve the same problem they are…but perhaps in very different ways.

So, how do we do this?

To give an example: we had a photographer from Cuba in a program, and he understood his people as being other photographers. But when we dove a bit deeper, we saw that his work is about exile, and stories of exile. This realization helped to open up all kinds of different partnerships, collaborations and resources. Now our photographer friend can use this awareness to build helpful new relationships.

This illustrates that a big part of our Launchpad programming is about seeing things in new ways so that old approaches (and new approaches) can lead to different results.

In addition to our longer 40-hour programs we offer a series of one-day sessions to reflect the different stages our participants are at in their ventures. We host “the Launch,” for early-stage work, “the Hustle,” for finding the resources you need to keep going, “the Purpose,” to figure out who you should be working alongside, and then “the Grow” for those that want to take things to the next level.

Many of our participants so far don’t like to identify as “artists,” and they blur disciplines as projects demands. They’re all really creative, but often haven’t applied that creativity to the business side of what they do. Our programming helps them tap into the brilliance that’s there, and reimagine their work in ways that makes it easier and feel less precarious.”


Jerrold McGrath joined the Launchpad team as Director of Launchpad Programs in November 2017. Prior to this, he spent eight years at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity, where he led the design and delivery of over 100 programs including the Toronto Arts Council Cultural Leaders Lab, New Fundamentals: Leadership for the Creative Ecology, ALT/Now: Economic Inequality, Getting to Maybe: A Social Innovation Residency, Leading by Design, and Hope Decoded, an interdisciplinary residency addressing hope and hopelessness across communities. Jerrold also recently directed the Decolonizing Canadian Dance project on behalf of the Canadian Dance Assembly.

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