Launch and scale your idea to positively impact lives.

#InvestInImpact: 3 SEED SPOT Alumni Driving Social Innovation

By: Bianca Buliga, Senior Marketing Manager

As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, SEED SPOT is fueled by philanthropic donations from individuals across the nation who believe in the power of entrepreneurship to drive forward lasting social change. 

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We take pride in putting those valuable dollars to work through immerse entrepreneurship programming that elevates the voices and solutions of diverse innovators. In fact, for every dollar donated to SEED SPOT programs, our alumni have generated 6x in revenue, received 2x in grants and donations, raised 5x in capital, and positively impacted one life.

Want to learn more? Here are the stories of just a few inspiring alumni who have leveraged SEED SPOT programming as a stepping stone to create incredible impact in the world:

BioForce Medical

Carlos Castellanos is a passionate cancer survivor, an experienced biomedical engineer and former FDA chemist, and co-founder of BioForce Medical. On a mission to detect cancer early, Carlos and his co-founders, Jeff Ward and Matt Holgate, developed a cancer diagnostic device that helps oncologists with early cancer screening and treatment monitoring by analyzing blood samples as they become malignant and begin circulating through the bloodstream. 

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Formally incorporated in 2018, the company was started in 2012 while Carlos studied techniques to isolate cancer cells and detect them in a hyper-efficient manner during his PhD program at Cornell University. Since founding, BioForce Medical has created a pilot diagnostic device, participated in SEED SPOT’s 2019 Impact Accelerator in Phoenix, won the $10,000 Audience Impact Award, and is continuing to accelerate their growth through the regulatory process and building a robust sales pipeline.

“The SEED SPOT staff is a smart and collegial bunch, and there is a great deal of camaraderie among the participants. I received a solid fundamental education that has served me well as I prepare to roll out BioForce Medical’s products and services.”

My Active Senior

After earning her degree in Gerontology and years of managing senior facilities in the private and public sectors, Shememe saw a problem: seniors were not able to take advantage of opportunities and better senior care. She quickly took matters into her own hands and built My Active Senior, a platform for seniors and their adult children to connect with local senior resources, activities, housing, technology, transportation and more.

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Since pitching at SEED SPOT’s Impact Accelerator Demo Day in April 2019, Shememe is growing My Active Senior full-time. In the coming months, she is prioritizing website upgrades, adding new features, and growing her list of vendors in order to become every household’s go-to platform for senior support.

“SEED SPOT helped me structure my thought process to think one year, three years, and five years out. It really made me see how My Active Senior could be a million dollar business and grow nationwide!” 

Proctorio

Mike Olsen is a rocket scientist who met his co-founder in Aerospace Engineering classes while simultaneously working full-time as EdPlus’s Lead Research Software Engineer at Arizona State University. Driven by the desire to ensure academic integrity for online programs, Mike and his co-founder built an initial prototype for what became Proctorio. The idea was to create an online proctoring company that uses machine learning and facial detection technologies to monitor students during online exams, flagging suspicious behaviors in a digital gradebook at the conclusion of every assessment.

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After participating in SEED SPOT’s Evening Program in Phoenix in 2013, Mike presented Proctorio at SXSW and got day-of calls from two deans in the audience. Since then, Proctorio has prioritized simplicity and privacy using software to land big-time clients like Harvard University and California’s entire community college system (a total of 114 schools!). Proctorio now delivers exams in all but four countries around the world, and has locations in Phoenix, Scottsdale, Munich, and Belgrade. Looking forward, Mike is making the push towards a globalized sales team and developing other products like a plagiarism detector and WebSweep that alerts institutions of cheat sheets that can be found online. 

“I appreciated SEED SPOT because they turned our weekend coding project into a structured business without taking a piece of the company.”

We are so proud of Carlos, Shememe, Mike, and the 881 other SEED SPOT alumni who have dared to dream big and create market-disrupting solutions to widespread problems. If you’re feeling similarly inspired, please consider making a one-time gift or becoming a member of the exclusive SEED SPOT 500. By giving $42 a month or $500 annually, you are providing an up-and-coming problem solver with the resources they need to diagnose cancer earlier, care for seniors, or ensure academic integrity. Thank you for your consideration!

C'pher Gresham

Download SEED SPOT’s 2017 Impact Report