Canada is alive with creatives and entrepreneurs. Our tech industry is thriving, and four Canadian cities even ranked in North America’s top 50 markets for tech talent this year.
And yet, there is a gaping hole where these creatives can come together and be empowered.
Ahmed Ismail and La Mar Taylor knew the system was broken. According to Taylor, who is also the Creative Director for The Weeknd and XO Records, “creatives in Toronto need a place to thrive, create and build.”
Seeing an acute lack of support for budding creatives while they get their businesses up and running, the two created HXOUSE: a next-generation creative incubator and accelerator located in the Artscape Launchpad in downtown Toronto.
HXOUSE introduces entrepreneurs to a world of education, exploration, skills, and mentorship to help them thrive in today’s economy — and define our future.
“We seek to create more educational opportunities for people who have not been able to pursue their career endeavors due to barriers to education or outdated education,” Ismail tells Daily Hive. “We need to take educational challenges head-on to build a more educated and equipped workforce.”
One of the really cool things about HXOUSE is that it was built during an 18-month tour with The Weeknd — on a Surface Pro. We’re not kidding. This meant that Ismail and Taylor had to be ready for everything — presentations, pitches, you name it — at any time.
“To get this project done in Toronto, while we were halfway across the world, is something that I’ll never forget. It was one of the most exhilarating challenges. Having my Surface Pro on every step of the journey while we built HXOUSE made it easier to face all of the challenges a business demands head-on,” says Ismail.
Touring with one of Canada’s biggest music stars for more than a year in the midst of building a business meant that Ismail and Taylor needed technology they could rely on. Ismail explains that sometimes they would be pitching backstage, while they were stopped in parking lots, and on the road in the tour bus.
“I went from figuring out complicated schedules, to finding the most insightful thought leaders in every city we travelled to. Every day was a new challenge and a new exploration,” Ismail explains.
Earlier this year, Microsoft teamed up with HXOUSE to empower students with technology to support their journeys in a variety of fields from fashion to film and music. So far, 150 students have been able to use Surface and Microsoft solutions to heighten their creativity and productivity.
Microsoft and HXOUSE are also hosting a series of panels with leading creatives and entrepreneurs like Bella Hadid, La La Anthony, Jennifer Rubio, and Metro Boomin’, which are free of charge, to allow for more engagement and open discussion with leading creative minds from across the globe.
For the team, it’s all about empowering the next generation of Canadian visionaries. “Our goal is to reverse and remedy the trend of pushing creative entrepreneurs away from Canada, so we can attract them, they can grow our ecosystem, create more economic opportunities for everyone in our society to benefit from.”
Visit the Microsoft Canada and HXOUSE page to find out more about this innovative partnership and learn more about the HXOUSE story.