Vancouver's new Creative Labs are looking for talented future tech CEOs

Nov 27 2017, 11:09 pm

New Vancouver tech studio Creative Labs is looking for up to 10 talented product managers, mobile developers, and designers to help them launch several new startups every year.

Creative Labs has been created in partnership between top Hollywood agency, the Creative Artists Agency (CAA), and a group of Canadian investors.

CAA is perhaps best known for working with actor Will Ferrell to create comedy video website and film and TV production company, Funny or Die.

Michael Blank, head of mobile at CAA and Creative Labs board member, told Daily Hive the agency had been incubating startups, many involving their clients, for 10 years.

“We sit in a unique place where we can see white space and opportunity that other people don’t see, and really work to build these companies,” said Blank.

“The problem with the model we were working was that it was really hard… We had to get financing, we had to go put this company together, before we ever even built anything.”

That just doesn’t work anymore, said Blank, so CAA began looking into the foundry model – and “out came Creative Labs” in Vancouver.

Leonard Brody, chairperson and co-founder at Creative Labs, said the new studio isn’t exactly an incubator or accelerator, it’s a foundry.

“We’re in effect a startup studio, where we create and build the companies…where the ideas are created and generated internally,” said Brody.

“Then we build the teams around that and grow them out… We have the studio model, we can generate products and companies that we built from the ground up ourselves.”

A startup studio in ‘incredible’ Vancouver

Mike Edwards, CEO of Creative Labs, said Vancouver was chosen as the location for the new tech studio for several reasons.

“Vancouver has a good tech ecosystem, ” said Edwards. “We believe it’s an incredible place to build technology companies.”

Vancouver (mffoto/Shutterstock)

Vancouver (mffoto/Shutterstock)

Of course, Vancouver’s reputation as Hollywood North, its proximity to Los Angeles, and the shared timezone were also factors.

But crucially, said Edwards, it was the talent in Vancouver that made the key difference.

“One of the key elements for the growth of the companies we incubate and create is looking for talented product managers that can become CEOs,” said Edwards.

“We believe that Vancouver overindexes for incredible product managers that can help drive the projects that will ultimately become companies.”

Brody said Vancouver’s ecosystem could help divine the companies that he hopes will navigate and change the direction of Hollywood and entertainment.

“To do that in Vancouver is a really big get… We should not underestimate the importance of the choice of Vancouver,” said Brody.

“We insisted and fought really hard that Vancouver was the right place… I think it’s a really big deal it’s been located in Vancouver.”

Creating new experiences for Google Home

Creative Labs have only been in operation for a few months, with a staff of about 12, but already they’ve launched three different companies – and there are more on the way.

Blank said one of the companies, Ground Control, aims to create content for interactive voice platforms, like Google Home and Amazon’s Alexa.

“We’re developing technology and developing experiences, leveraging CAA’s talent to create these first experiences on this new platform,” said Blank.

“At present there is no compelling experience…We can create compelling experiences, thereby creating the first audiences, better engaged, and build on that.”

Ground Control is run by renowned tech entrepreneur and CEO Mike Macadaan and was launched with the help of former US vice-president, Joe Biden.

“That was a really exciting first project to launch, it’s been a great business that’s building tonnes of momentum,” said Blank.

Gaming giants and bookworm celebrities

The second business on the books is BlueLine Studios, a mobile gaming platform, being run by Dean Richards and Pauline Moller.

Both come from gaming powerhouse Electronic Arts – Richards was vice president of EA Studios, while Moller was senior vice president of EA Sports.

“It’s in build stage right now, but the exciting thing for Creative Labs is that we were able to access this incredible executive talent from EA,” said Blank.

BlueLine’s first games are set to launch around March next year.

The third company is online book club platform Belletrist, cofounded with CAA client, actor Emma Roberts, and her business partner Karah Preiss.

The website celebrates books and their readers, with Roberts and Preiss selecting a monthly book to read and lauding independent book stores.

Blank says Belletrist offers Millennial women a “respite from the digital age,” allowing them to get away from the phone and social media.

“There’s a push to regain part of your life and… Belletrist’s job is to corral that move, where they get people and a big community around it,” said Brody.

Launching 3 to 5 companies a year

With $15 million raised in funding in two months, Creative Labs plans to build three to five companies and three to five mobile products every year.

“We’re moving way faster than I think anyone thought would be possible when we first conceptualized this idea,” said Edwards.

“The people who are working on this are amazing, they’re all specialists, they’re all generalists, they do everything, and they’re able to move quickly.”

The tech studio is also aiming to help grow Vancouver’s tech ecosystem, create jobs in the city, and turn new product managers into future tech CEOs.

“It’s exceeded expectations… We’re ahead of plan right now,” said Blank. “We’re really excited to be doing this in Vancouver.”

If you’re interested in working for Creative Labs, contact them at

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