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Jacobs Centers Looks For Next Batch Of Entrepreneurs For ‘Connect All’ Program

Reported by Andi Dukleth , Video by Kris Arsiaga

The Jacobs Center is looking for the next batch of entrepreneurs ready to grow their start-ups. "Connect All" at the Jacobs Center is a business accelerator program with a focus on helping founders from diverse backgrounds. Director Alex Waters joined KPBS Anchor Ebone Monet to talk about the program.

Q: What makes "Connect All" Unique?

A: Connect All at the Jacobs Center is the region's first accelerator focused on low to moderate income and diverse founders. And so what we aim to do is really find those individuals that need help, that are looking to scale and grow their businesses, specifically in areas and for individuals that have been undeserved.

Q: Growing a business is difficult for anyone. Why is it important to offer this support to people of diverse backgrounds and low-to-moderate incomes?

A: Like you said, growing a business is tough, regardless of sort of what you're doing and what your income level is or your background. But there’s specific and unique barriers for individuals from diverse backgrounds and low-to-moderate income areas; specifically access to space, capital, training, all those different kinds of things that we incorporate at Connect All at the Jacobs Center.

Q: Who is an ideal applicant?

A: An ideal applicant is someone who already has a business. They've started a little bit. They may have gotten a tiny bit of traction, maybe some sales, and they're looking to scale it large enough to have employees. Right now we have retail, we have tech, we have beauty and health and wellness. There's a lot of different areas. It doesn't have to be one specific one, but that's kind of the category that we're looking for.

Q: What does someone get if they're selected?

A: They get six months of space and our state-of-the-art co-working space. They get training. We have workshops every week from experts in the field about how best to do different kinds of things in their business. The last part is that they're a part of a community. They're a part of other entrepreneurs that are actually there, doing it, doing it every single day. We also partner with mentors. So, getting that advice from those experienced people who have been there and done that.

Q:Any success stories you'd like to share?

A: There's quite a few that have done some big things since they've been there. One example is Promo Drone and that is an aerial drone that's looking to sort of disrupt the space of advertising. He's partnered with a few different organizations local here. So that's one that would I think about, but there's quite a few others.

Q: What makes this program possible?

A: Right now we are funded through a grant, through Housing and Urban Development through the city of San Diego. They provide those funds for us to be able to do the program.

Q: The Jacobs Center has done some work with revitalizing communities. How does this fit with that theme?

A: It all comes back to providing opportunity and so the biggest thing in all of this is access to opportunity. People are great at what they do, in terms of wanting to be entrepreneurs, wanting to start businesses but this is just another opportunity to kind of fits in there.

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