Transform Spotlight Series: Founder | Keely Cat-Wells of Making Space

Transform Founder Spotlight Series: Tigran Sloyan

Welcome to Transform’s Founder Spotlight Series, an exciting journey into the minds of innovative leaders who are disrupting the now and next of work.

In each Q&A-style article, we’ll introduce you to founders like Keely Cat-Wells, who are redefining the boundaries of their industries with forward-thinking ideas and transformative approaches.

About Keely

Keely founded her first company in the hospital, which later became C Talent, a talent agency that represents Disabled talent, reshaping perceptions of disability. C Talent was acquired by Whalar in 2022. Keely is now the founder & CEO of Making Space, a VC-backed talent acquisition and learning platform that develops accessible pathways to employment and career advancement through employer-backed courses, bridging the education-employment gap and enabling companies to access underrepresented talent. Under the Making Space umbrella is Making Space Media, a brand that creates film and TV content amplifying disabled narratives in partnership with Reese Witherspoon’s company, Hello Sunshine.

About Making Space

Making Space is a talent acquisition and learning experience platform that allows companies to access pre-qualified talent from Disabled, low-income, and traditionally underrepresented communities. Designed to bridge the education-employment gap, Making Space creates tangible pathways to employment and career advancement through employer-supported courses.

Additionally, Making Space is home to Making Space Media, a brand that creates film, TV, educational, and promotional content centering on the Disabled voice. Making Space Media has a first-look deal with Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine.

Let’s dive into Keely’s founder story and learn firsthand about her inspirations, challenges, and breakthroughs that marked her path to success.

The Startup Journey

Q: What gave you the idea to start Making Space?

A: I became disabled when I was 17, and when I moved to the USA, I ended up losing a job due to disability discrimination – My experience is not an isolated one; the two billion disabled people around the world are twice as likely to be unemployed. 

Previously, I built a talent agency that represents disabled talent, which was successfully sold last year, marking a milestone investment in disability and the creative industries. While we were successful, I learned while building the company that any initiatives that are disability—or impact-focused are prone to getting deprioritized when budgets get cut within corporations.

So, at Making Space, we have created a scalable solution that helps companies save money on their biggest yearly losses and acts as a Trojan horse—getting Disabled, low-income, and underrepresented talent into long-term, meaningful employment. By tying impact to business strategy, we can create systemic change with our talent acquisition and learning experience platform so that companies can access pre-qualified, underrepresented talent.

Product Development

Q: Who benefits from Making Space?

A: Disabled, low-income, and underrepresented talent, as well as our enterprise customers. Making Space wants to bridge the education-employment gap by building a talent acquisition and learning experience platform at the intersection of accessibility and self-service talent development for Disabled, low-income, and traditionally underrepresented talent. Companies create their own accessible credentialing courses, enabling internal or external talent to self-enroll and pre-qualify themselves for job opportunities. This enables companies to create a tangible journey from education/credentialing to employment and promotions through data and skills-based decisions, resulting in faster hiring times, better job-candidate fit, and higher retention.

Q: Why is this so important?

A: Historically, disabled, low-income, and underrepresented groups have faced systemic barriers in education and employment. Making Space wants to forge tangible pathways to both employment and career advancement for all workers by creating a universally accessible learning platform. In addition, Making Space is proposing a fundamental shift in training responsibilities (away from companies and more directly into the hands of talent) with the goal of unlocking out-of-the-box productivity, demonstrating ROI, and fast payback for its enterprise clients. Ensuring underrepresented talent is prioritized all year round.

Q: What are some examples of companies leveraging from Making Space?

A: Making Space is working with NBC Sports, providing NBC Sports with a pre-trained talent pipeline for its properties and events. This pipeline of untapped and underrepresented disabled workforce will have access to on and off-screen opportunities to increase their experience level and visibility through one of the world’s most recognizable media companies.

Scaling & Growth

Q: How do you build a strong company culture while scaling the business?

A: We have a strong set of values, one of which is an “Accessibility First” approach that is at the heart of our mission and values.


Q: What advice can you give similarly situated founders as they begin fundraising? 

A: When I first raised funds, I found the most amazing community of people who had done it successfully before, and I did all I could to learn from them and their mistakes, as well as get introductions. It is a very privileged position to be in, to be able to say, “Look, can you introduce me to this person?” Intros are one of the biggest investments anyone within the business can make for you.

Team Building & Leadership

Q: What leadership skills do you believe are critical in the current environment?

A: In today’s dynamic environment, empathy stands out as a fundamental leadership skill. Especially in times of crisis, which, unfortunately, we have seen a lot of in 2023, or during times of general change, company growth etc., an empathetic approach ensures that the emotional and mental well-being of team members is prioritized, creating resilience and adaptability within the organization.

Marketing & Branding

Q: How do you differentiate your brand from competitors?

A: Making Space has strategically centered accessibility in our brand ethos—building with Disabled people in mind. We see accessibility as an incredible opportunity that many have missed. By ensuring that our services cater to the drastically underserved and overlooked 1.8 billion disabled people, we not only broaden our reach but also underscore our dedication to social responsibility and equity. Our approach to accessibility elevates our brand reputation, fosters loyalty, and drives positive word-of-mouth, reinforcing that accessibility is a potent differentiator in today’s landscape.

Industry and Market Insights

Q: What is one significant trend or prediction that you believe will drive the transformation of work?

A: One significant trend reshaping the world of work is the labor force shortage, stemming from a misalignment between current education systems and the demands of contemporary job roles. As traditional educational structures struggle to equip students with the skills required for today’s job landscape, businesses face challenges in sourcing qualified talent. Concurrently, the growing market of disabled people presents an untapped reservoir of potential and talent. Recognizing and accommodating the unique skills and perspectives of this sizable demographic can offer companies a competitive edge and a solution to the widening talent gap.

Company Vision

Q: What’s next for you and Making Space?

A: We are very excited to launch a course with Netflix in early November 2024 and have some very impactful and exciting partnerships in the works. Be on the lookout for updates, and be sure to sign up at Making Space.

Q: What would you like to say to People leaders who are thinking of using Making Space? 

A: In a world where disabled people are twice as likely to be unemployed, Making Space is your answer to rewriting that narrative. Our platform bridges the education-employment gap, providing a nexus of accessibility and self-service talent development, allowing your company to tap into an expansive, prequalified talent pool from disabled, low-income, and traditionally underrepresented communities. Beyond supporting diversity hiring, Making Space delivers tangible pathways to employment and career progression by shifting training responsibilities, optimizing productivity, and demonstrating clear ROI. Our platform offers a data-driven solution, leveraging unparalleled accessibility expertise, social engagement, and cutting-edge AI technology. Join us in our vision to create a more inclusive and equitable future and position your organization at the cutting edge of accessibility and inclusion.

On a Personal Note

Q: Describe your perfect day when you aren’t working.

A: Netflix & chill with our Chief Barking Officer, Sgt. Puppers, a tiny chihuahua with a large personality.

Q: What is your personal mantra?

I believe that to change the world, we have to learn to tell and listen to a new set of stories about the world we want to create, in accessible spaces and with authentic voices.

A: Check out other inspiring Founder Spotlights on the Transform blog.

Can’t wait for Transform 2025?

Mark your calendar for March 17-19, 2025, at Wynn Las Vegas. Sign up to stay in the loop and we’ll let you know when registration opens.