Connect All Startup Accelerator Seeks New Cohort of Diverse Founders

The first business accelerator program in southeast San Diego is accepting applications for its second cohort of entrepreneurs, who would start the program in fall.

The six-month program, called Connect All @ the Jacobs Center, is run by Connect, a longstanding local organization that for years has supported startups through its flagship tech and life sciences accelerator, Springboard; the city of San Diego; and the Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation, a nonprofit organization.

Connect All debuted this year with the mission of supporting diverse and lower-income entrepreneurs. It’s the first accelerator of its kind in the region, according to the organization.

Its first cohort of 13 startups started the six-month program in May, at the Joe and Vi Jacobs Center, a community meeting space in southeast San Diego run by the Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation. Businesses in the cohort are in the retail, technology, food, and health and beauty sectors, including Smart Guider, which is developing a cane for the blind with a motorized wheel that can navigate autonomously using GPS, and PromoDrone, which offers outdoor advertising campaigns that use drones to carry banners and other services.

It’s been a year of transformation for Connect: Earlier this year, it hired local entrepreneur and investor Silvia Mah as its president to oversee the Connect All program, among other duties, after its CEO left to launch a new venture capital fund. Soon thereafter, the organization announced it would merge with the San Diego Venture Group.

Now Connect All is looking for its second cohort. It is taking applications through Aug. 26 from founders of early-stage San Diego-based startups that are seeking to grow their businesses.

Companies that are accepted will get free co-working space at the Jacobs Center, guidance on how to scale their businesses, and mentorship in a program tailored to their needs, according to Connect All. The 4,300-square-foot space in which the program operates, which was recently renovated to house it, includes a business resource center with information about local services and support programs, conference rooms, a kitchen, lounge area, high-speed internet and printers. (The center is open to the public.)

The Connect All program is free for entrepreneurs, and unlike some accelerator programs, does not take equity in participating companies. It’s funded with money the city of San Diego receives from the federal Community Development Block Grant program and by private partners, including MUFG Union Bank and bkm OfficeWorks.

Interested entrepreneurs can learn more and apply at connectallsd.org.

Sarah de Crescenzo is the editor of Xconomy San Diego. You can reach her at sdecrescenzo@xconomy.com. Follow @sarahdc

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