Seed Spot's Demo Day Showcases New Business Ventures in Downtown Phoenix

Page 2 of 2

See also: 5 Must-See First Friday Shows in Phoenix on June 6

Since its inception in 2012, the local breeding ground for entrepreneurs has helped launched businesses locally and beyond, joining the ranks of CoHoots and JumpStart Phoenix to help foster growth for these ambitious business leaders.

"[We] saw a need to increase the odds of success for the passionate," Courtney Klein, co-founder and CEO, said when she addressed the crowd. Klein and her chief operating officer, Mike Rudinsky, have found a successful business model of their own.

Seventy-six percent of their graduates are still in business -- small nonprofits and profitable companies alike that have created 61 jobs and impacted an (otherwise immeasurable) 48,282 lives. The organization focused on what Klein calls "social entrepreneurs," whose businesses have an emphasis in healthcare, education and the environment.

This spring's Demo Day, held on Thursday, June 5, was the capstone event. Each class of venture students takes the stage in front of a mix of friendly faces and unknown businesspeople to present their ideas. Presenters have three minutes to pitch their proposals, including everything from inspiration to profit margins and projected growth. At the end of the evening companies are awarded prizes that include six months of free office space at the Seed Spot headquarters, grants, and -- arguably most notably -- a $5,000 Impact Award, voted on by audience members.

This year's award went to Table Top, a company whose goal is to "give back while dining out" through creation and implementation of an app that allows diners to choose charities of their choice for restaurant owners to donate a percentage of their profits to. The business has already received positive feedback and support from Upward Projects and Special Olympics Arizona and hopes to reach 800 nonprofits and 1,500 restaurants.

Michaelree and her husband were awarded a $10,000 grant, courtesy of the Arizona Community Foundation's Pakis Center for Business Philanthropy. The money stipulates certain benchmarks for their proposed business, Gave in America, which takes the traditional model of donating unwanted items and turns it into a shared, online marketplace. Their "goods for good people" idea combines the ease of Craigslist with the tax deductibility of Goodwill to promote socially conscious shopping.

But the biggest award of the night, a $15,000 donation, and certainly the concept that garnered the most applause, went to Skate After School, a joint effort by speaker Ryan Lay, Bobby Green and Tim Ward to bring positive extracurricular activities to latchkey kids. Twenty-two percent of kids take care of themselves after school, and while the two-year-old program has already been implemented in three area schools -- reaching 150 kids through the creation of 100 skateboards -- the trio hope to reach 10 schools (or 300 kids) by January of next year.

KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Janessa is a native Phoenician. She joined New Times as a contributor in 2013. You can connect with her on social media at @janessahilliard, and she promises you'll find no pictures of cats on her Instagram — but plenty of cocktails.
Contact: Janessa Hilliard