Tag Archives: incubator

Meghan Martinez, Founder of KEASY, a keyless, digital lock that provides safe and efficient access to rental homes.

KEASY sweeps winning prize at SEED SPOT Demo Day

Move over, Silicon Valley – Arizona is becoming quite the hotbed for startups. Just ask the 800+ people who attended SEED SPOT’s fourth Demo Day event in Phoenix, designed to highlight local, up-and-coming entrepreneurs and their successful and inspiring new ventures.

SEED SPOT, an incubator for socially-minded entrepreneurs, entertained a sell-out crowd at its Demo Day event, held Tuesday, Dec. 9, at 6 p.m. at the Herberger Theater in downtown Phoenix.

During this energetic and uplifting event, ten SEED SPOT entrepreneurs shared their socially-responsible, purpose-driven business plans. Each entrepreneur was given three minutes to give background about his/her startup, along with successes and next steps.

After every entrepreneur presented, everyone in the audience was able to vote via text message for their favorite new venture. The venture who received the most votes, along with a $5,000 cash prize from Cox Communications and a paid trip to a conference of choice was Meghan Martinez, Founder of KEASY, a keyless, digital lock that provides safe and efficient access to rental homes. After spending the majority of her career in real estate and property management, Meghan was always worried about floating keys and break-ins at her properties so an idea was born. KEASY can be managed from mobile and computer devices; it’s different from other keyless locks on the market  because it’s a patent pending technology.

In addition to KEASY, another award given that includes six months of free office space at SEED SPOT was given to Steve Zeidman, Founder of Vestafy, a software created to streamline and better help effectiveness for the animal welfare community. It’s also a mobile-friendly device that will allow animal control agencies and humane societies concentrate on helping to find pets homes.

Additional ventures honored include Paws 2 Read, a non-profit that certifies animal owners to take their pets into libraries and classrooms, helping children build confidence as they learn to read; along with Trade My Show which is an online service that allows leg amputees and people with disabilities to trade their shoes with one another around the world.

To prepare for Demo Day, the ten entrepreneurs went through a rigorous entrepreneurship program, with four months of curriculum from SEED SPOT and support from Arizona business leaders. Those selected to participate in Demo Day have worked hard to validate that they have customers and a solid business model.

SEED SPOT, a Phoenix-based nonprofit, incubates social entrepreneurs who are committed to sustainably solving important societal problems. The incubator has provided more than 25,000 hours of mentorship, positively impacting the lives of more than 107,000 people. Eighty-eight percent of SEED SPOT alumni are still in business, and 93 percent of them are still in Arizona. Applications for SEED SPOT’s 201 Program (a part-time, 12-week course) and 301 Program (a full-time, 14-week course) are being accepted now through Jan. 30, 2015 with the program beginning on Feb. 17, 2015. Visit www.seedspot.org for more details.

As co-founder and CEO of SEED SPOT, Courtney Klein has created a culture and environment that is unique and empowering for entrepreneurs in the Phoenix community. Photo by Robin Sendele, AZ Big Media

Klein creates Seed Spot to help innovators blossom

Entrepreneurs move fast in all directions and for Courtney Klein, it’s no different. From presenting to boards to attending festivals to competing in triathlons to being a full-time CEO, Klein is entrepreneurial in all facets of life.

A few years ago, Klein was spending endless nights and weekends at local coffee shops talking to college students about how to launch businesses until it dawned on her, “Why am I not doing this full time?”

Now she runs the No. 1 incubator for social entrepreneurs in Arizona as the CEO and co-founder of SEED SPOT. Klein and company will show off a little bit of what they do during Demo Day at 6 p.m. on Dec. 9 at the Herberger Theatre.

At SEED SPOT, things operate differently than a typical 9-5 job. Interns don’t make coffee runs or get saddled with menial tasks — they sit side-by-side with the CEO. What Klein has built at SEED SPOT goes far beyond a success story. She has built a community centered on making an impact.

“I love working with entrepreneurs and supporting them from the idea stage of just a concept all the way to demo day when they validate everything about their company,” she said.
Born in Mesa and raised by a mother with extremely high expectations, Klein was destined to do something big, but she didn’t always think it would be with nonprofits.

In her first year at Arizona State University, Klein attended the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication as a broadcast journalism student with dreams of being the next Katie Couric.

Things changed after an international volunteer program sparked an interest in starting a nonprofit. Her college advisor laughed and said many students have this dream, but few actually achieve it.

Despite the discouraging advice, Klein switched her major to nonprofit leadership and management and earned $1,000 in seed money from ASU that she used to launch Youth Reaction Corps, which empowered students to solve problems they saw in the world. Klein helped grow the organization, now New Global Citizens, into a sustainable nonprofit that reaches more than 14 states and 33 countries.

After leaving New Global Citizens, Klein took a position as the director of strategic planning and development for GPEC before co-founding SEED SPOT in 2012. The accelerator program takes ventures through the process of starting a company from providing access to capital opportunities to creating a personalized business plan.

“I realized how critical it was to have a network of people that believed in me and championed my ideas, so I looked for a way to connect other entrepreneurs, mentors, peers, community advisors and people who could really help each other,” Klein said.

bioscience

BioInspire earns ‘Excellence in Innovation’ award

BioInspire, the Peoria-based incubator for medical device companies, accepted an “Excellence in Innovation” award at WESTMARC’S Best of the West award ceremony this week.

The award is the latest recognition for BioInspire, whose goal is to help start-up companies in the competitive field of medical device innovative gain a competitive edge.

The BioInspire facility is a joint effort between Plaza Companies, the City of Peoria and BioAccel.   The Plaza Del Rio campus is the home of BioInspire is operated by BioAccel and is the brainchild of the City of Peoria Economic Development Office and Sharon Harper, the President and CEO of Plaza Companies. BioAccel offers first-class working space, technical and business assistance and collaborative opportunities.

A partnership between Plaza Companies, City of Peoria and BioAccel/BioInspire has produced results in the form of new jobs in the West Valley and in positioning Peoria and the West Valley as a hub for innovation and technology.

WESTMARC’s Best of the West Awards is the West Valley’s most prestigious business recognition event, celebrating the best in Western Maricopa County for more than two decades. The event, on Nov. 5, was held at Phoenix International Raceway and honors outstanding contributions to the economic development, innovation and quality of life in the West Valley. A diverse panel of outstanding leaders, specifically chosen for their community and business expertise and located outside of the West Valley, determines the winners from a large selection of deserving entries.

Awards are presented in the categories of Economic Engine, Excellence in Innovation and Quality of Life.

“BioInspire is especially deserving of an award that has the word ‘Innovation’ in it. BioInspire gives companies the chance to tap into business, marketing, research and development and other resources that give them the best opportunity for success,” Harper said. “With health care emerging as one of the country’s most important issues, now more than ever we need companies that can truly innovate in the medical field and this is what BioInspire is helping companies to do. It also means more jobs in the West Valley and will help to attract even more companies and more jobs.”

“We want Peoria to be a signature destination not only for visitors but for businesses,” said Scott Whyte, economic services director for the City of Peoria. “BioInspire reflects our message that we are looking to grow our economic base and that we will pursue partnerships, projects and initiatives that make sense and  help further this goal. BioInspire adds vibrancy and symbolizes the essence of innovation. It’s a perfect symbol for Peoria’s aspirations. We thank WESTMARC for recognizing the importance of this initiative with this award.”

“Great partnerships help foster innovation and drive economic success,” said MaryAnn Guerra, CEO of BioAccel. “That’s what we have with BioInspire, which is helping to bring jobs, products and ideas to Peoria in the form medical innovation.”

Plaza Companies, with office locations in Peoria and Scottsdale, Arizona, is an award-winning leader in the development and management of medical office properties, technology and bioscience facilities, and senior housing communities. Founded in 1982, Plaza Companies is a full service firm with a portfolio of more than 5.5 million square feet valued at more than $1 billion. For more information about Plaza Companies, visit www.theplazaco.com.

BioAccel is a unique, fully independent, non-profit organization created to provide funding and business expertise to develop early stage life science technologies that drive local economic development efforts. BioAccel accelerates the development of new companies, drives economic development, and creates new biomedical products, which over time will become available to the general public. For more, go to www.bioaccel.org.

The City of Peoria boasts 160,000 residents. To regular vacationers and smart home buyers, Peoria has long been one of the most desirable locations in the Grand Canyon State. 
The city of Peoria provides excellent municipal services by anticipating community needs, creating partnerships, promoting sustainability and embracing diversity.

Staying Innovative as a One Man Operation

Seed Spot seeks best and brightest entrepreneurs

Have an idea that’s going to help make the world a better place? Ever daydream about what it would look like if your vision came to life? Look no further, because Phoenix is home to Seed Spot, a nonprofit business incubator that helps entrepreneurs turn their world-changing dreams into realities. Arizona entrepreneurs are invited to enroll in SEED SPOT’s part-time and full-time venture programs by Friday, Aug. 15.

WHAT: Seed Spot will hold two programs this fall – a part-time (evening) program and a full-time (day) program – for passionate entrepreneurs who want to create socially-responsible, purpose-driven business plans. The part-time program is designed for entrepreneurs who are at the idea or early-concept stage of their venture. Through a 12-week curriculum, these entrepreneurs receive education, training, and support to refine their concept into a business model. This program is offered every Monday, from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m., from Sept. 8 to Nov. 24.

The full-time program is designed for entrepreneurs who may already have a service, prototype or product in the market, but need support validating all aspects of their business model to raise capital or contributions. Through a 14-week curriculum, these entrepreneurs receive formal education, mentorship, training, pitch practice, and more. This program is offered from Sept. 8 to Dec. 11 (specific hours TBD).

WHEN: The deadline to apply is Friday, Aug. 15 via www.seedspot.org/apply.

WHERE: Seed Spot, 2828 N. Central Ave., 7th Floor, Phoenix, 85004 (SW corner of Central Ave. & Thomas Road)

WHY: Seed Spot is one of six incubators in the country that focuses on social entrepreneurs – people who launch a product or service that benefits humanity. SEED SPOT provides curriculum, office space and a network
of advisors to help startups with business plan development, financial modeling, branding, marketing, operations, infrastructure and capital formation. Visit www.seedspot.org for more information.