Three San Diego Entrepreneurs Win Business Grants
Photo: The first place winner of the fourth Union Bank Start-Up Pitch Competition and audience choice awardee, in partnership with CONNECT ALL @ the Jacobs Center, First Gen Scholars Founder and Executive Director Jonathan Burgos (center) and children.
Courtesy of CONNECT ALL @ the Jacobs Center
May 28, 2021 (San Diego) — Yesterday, CONNECT ALL @ the Jacobs Center and Union Bank announced the winners of the fourth Union Bank Start-Up Pitch Competition. In partnership with the City of San Diego, the virtual pitch competition serves as the program culmination for the fourth group of startups who received four months of free business development and mentorship. CONNECT ALL @ the Jacobs Center is the region’s only business accelerator focused on serving low-to-moderate income and diverse founders.
“I am really impressed by each of the local businesses that competed in the pitch competition and have graduated from CONNECT ALL @ the Jacobs Center to jumpstart their companies,” said Christina Bibler, Director of Economic Development for the City of San Diego. “These businesses and their founders are integral to the San Diego startup and small business community and the growth of our economy.”
The first-place winner of the competition is First Gen Scholars, a startup owned by Jonathan Burgos that focuses on helping high school seniors with the college application process and mentors first-generation college students until they receive their degree. First Gen Scholars received a $7,500 cash prize from Union Bank to support its business.
The winner of the Audience Choice award was also First Gen Scholars, selected by public vote on the business accelerator’s YouTube channel.
“Jonathan Burgos did an outstanding job showcasing the importance of First Gen Scholars and highlighting the market opportunity and the long-term vision for the company,” said Bruno Rodriguez, Union Bank Branch Manager for the El Cajon Valley location and a judge on the panel. “Union Bank is proud to support the future of business in San Diego through this competition.”
The second-place award went to Charbon Plus, a company that provides the world accessible and luxurious African skincare products for Black and Brown skin through an online store, led by Lucien Eloundou. The startup won a $5,000 cash prize.
Hexagon Laser, which specializes in designing and manufacturing wood artwork and home decor using laser-engraving and laser-cutting technique, under the leadership of Oscar Corral, was awarded the third-place cash prize of $2,500.
In total, 11 companies competed in the virtual pitch competition and 13 participated in the program: Baby Diary, BRENTFORDE Media, Challenge Island San Diego Coastal, Charbon Plus, D.A. Servicing, First Gen Scholars, Girlie Garage, Hexagon Laser, Hola Swim, Sonia’s Healthy Corner, Stuart Matthieu Wealth Management & Insurance Agency, Tabby Manor and Zero to Necessary.
“Our organization is immensely proud of these 13 business owners and their growing local businesses,” said Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation President and CEO Reginald Jones. “Their impassioned work ethic enabled them to persevere and build a business despite an unpredictable global pandemic. We are excited to see how they propel forward with the help of resources and mentorship provided in the business accelerator program.”
Each company presented their ideas in a five-minute video pitch, and a panel of judges viewed and voted based on criteria, including business model, market opportunity, job creation potential and long-term vision. All the videos can be viewed on CONNECT ALL @ the Jacobs Center YouTube channel at bit.ly/CAJCpitch4.
CONNECT ALL @ the Jacobs Center is a strategic partnership between the City of San Diego, Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation and CONNECT w/ San Diego Venture Group.
This program is funded in whole or in part with Community Development Block Grant program funds provided by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to the City of San Diego, and private funding from partners, such as MUFG Union Bank N.A. and bkm OfficeWorks. Through its foundation, Union Bank has been a supporter of the program since its inception in 2018.
About CONNECT ALL @ the Jacobs Center
CONNECT ALL @ the Jacobs Center (CAJC) is the region’s first low to moderate income and diversity-focused business accelerator program, guiding startups that want to grow rapidly with all the support they need to be successful. A partnership between the City of San Diego, the Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation and CONNECT w/ San Diego Venture Group, the program provides participants with mentors, weekly workshops and guidance on how to scale their businesses.
CAJC also includes a Business Resource Center, so that all entrepreneurs and small businesses can learn about local services and support to move their ideas and businesses forward. This program is funded in whole or in part with Community Development Block Grant program funds provided by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to the City of San Diego, and private funding from partners, such as MUFG Union Bank N.A. and bkm OfficeWorks.
To learn more or get involved, visit connectallsd.org.