A special shoutout to our intern Lauren Wong for writing this article!
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.