Courtney Klein wants to change the world, through entrepreneurship. That’s why she co-founded SEED SPOT — a business incubator and non-profit — in 2012.
“Our niche focus is working with a social entrepreneur,” she says. “We really look for the intention to be about helping the world.”
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Klein’s mission to impact local and international communities started in college, at Arizona State University. Her original major was broadcast journalism.
“In junior high, I was on the school radio station,” Klein says. “I always loved speaking. I loved telling stories.”
Then, in college, Klein took a trip that changed her perspective.
“I traveled to a rural village in Mexico freshman year and I saw how the rest of the world lived,” she says. “It was the richest community I’d ever seen because they have dreams. It wasn’t a materialistic dream. They wanted what we all want: health and education and opportunity.”
When Klein returned to the U.S., she found herself disillusioned by the commercialism and petty problems people focused on here.
“How did I not experience this before?” she wondered. “Nobody in high school told me I could make a change.”
That’s when Klein developed the idea for her first non-profit and switched her major to non-profit management. During her senior year, Klein won $1,000 from ASU’s Edson Student Entrepreneur Initiative to launch New Global Citizens.
Her project was a high-school based program to help students understand how to take action and make change in the world. Today, it’s still going strong. According to SEED SPOT’s website, New Global Citizens now serves youths in 14 states across the U.S. and works with grassroots partners in more than 30 countries around the world.
Klein says New Global Citizens’ success was due to the help she received from other people, including the grant from ASU.
“I wanted to build the same community for other entrepreneurs,” she says.
After completing a master’s degree in non-profit leadership at ASU, Klein launched SEED SPOT.
“We’ve worked with 143 entrepreneurs,” she says. “Eighty-eight percent are still in business and 93 percent are still in Arizona.”
From an autistic bakery owner who plans to hire other autistic employees, to a couple who launched eco-friendly toys for children to stimulate creative play, Klein says she could go on and on telling stories of SEED SPOT’s alumni. But most importantly, her plans to create change are working.
“We are really building a community that acknowledges and supports entrepreneurs that are trying to build the world,” she says.