Courtney Klein Johnson of Seedspot spent some time telling us about her amazing organization. Courtney, along with Chris Petroff created an entrepreneurial incubator for businesses that make a difference in the world. Read on to learn more about Seedspot and the incredible ventures that are part of their program.
Give us an overview of who you are and what you do.
I am an Arizona native and graduate of Arizona State University’s Barrett Honors College where I received my undergraduate and Masters degrees in Nonprofit Management. My passion is to support people who dare to pursue what others would not, and I particularly love working with early stage entrepreneurs who have determined the destination but do not yet know the path.
My life journey currently has me situated as the Co-Founder of SEED SPOT (www.seedspot.org), a nonprofit incubator supporting Arizona’s most innovative social entrepreneurs. Previously, I served as the Co-Founder & CEO of New Global Citizens, the result of a nonprofit organization I launched in my senior year of college on a $1,000 seed grant with a mission to educate, empower, and invest in young people to change the world. New Global Citizens (www.newglobalcitizens.org) now serves youth in 14 states across the country and works with grassroots partners in over 30 countries around the world.
I love to volunteer my time as an Entrepreneur in Residence at Arizona State University and mentor young women through Boys Hope Girls Hope. Also recently helped launch The Manifesto Project
(www.themanifestoproject.org), an initiative to capture the voice of a generation of young leaders to compile data around “what would keep them in Arizona forever.” I am training for Ironman Arizona in the fall of 2013, and in the process of publishing a book titled “In Pursuit of a Dream.”
How does your program work? (The path that ventures take through Seedspot)
SEED SPOT is a nonprofit incubator focused on supporting Arizona’s most innovative social entrepreneurs; those creating high impact ventures that improve the lives of people and communities on a local, national, or global scale.
Whether a for-profit business with a social mission or a nonprofit organization with a sustainable revenue model – SEED SPOT believes in supporting entrepreneurs that are launching innovative ideas that improve lives, make communities stronger, and create positive social change.
Each year, SEED SPOT runs two 4-month programs – one in the Fall and one in the Spring. Our two programs include a Full-Time Program and an Evening Program. Eligibility requirements mandate that all ventures demonstrate social impact, prove customer validation, showcase a strong revenue model, and are generating less than $250,000 in annual revenue. Additionally, all entrepreneurs must reside in the state of Arizona.
Applications are available twice per year. All applications are reviewed by a committee, finalists are interviewed and up to 20 ventures are selected to participate in the Full-Time Program and up to 60 ventures are selected to participate in the Evening Program.
If you could meet anyone from history, who would you meet and why?
It is a common response, but meeting Martin Luther King Jr. would be at the top for me. The tenacity, the fire in the eye, the passion in the belly, the fight…the perpetual fight he had within to change the world. Yeah, I would want to meet that.
What’s the most surprising or gratifying result you’ve seen from your work so far?
Working with Matt Cottle, the Founder of Stuttering King Bakery, has been incredibly rewarding. Matt is a 24-year-old high functioning autistic adult who is expanding his bakery to employ other high functioning autistic adults. Witnessing his drive and passion has been inspiring, and playing even a small role in his success has given me immense joy. If you have not ordered Stuttering King Bakery yet, you must! He delivers! http://www.stutteringkingbakery.com.
Would you rather see blurry all the time or only be able to see in black and white?
Tough one. So much of life is in the color so I would say blurry and colorful!
Where do you see yourselves 15 years from now?
To be honest, I have no idea. I could not have pre-determined my path here and yet I feel I am exactly where I am meant to be at this moment in time. I find comfort in not knowing exactly where I am going; trusting that as paths unfold, I have the courage to follow them is the only plan I have for the next 15 years.