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 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 that received the most votes was KEASY, a keyless, digital lock that provides safe and efficient access to rental homes. This earned a $5,000 cash prize from Cox Communications and a paid trip to a conference of choice for Meghan Martinez,founder of KEASY. After spending the majority of her career in real estate and property management, Martinez 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 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 to concentrate on helping to find pets homes.
Additional ventures honored include Paws 2 Read, a nonprofit 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 Shoe, 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 workedhard 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.