A city-funded program to grow startups and small businesses in San Diego is opening up applications for its next wave of entrepreneurs. Those selected will get free office space for six months, along with other perks of the program.
The incubator, called Connect All at the Jacobs Center, specifically serves minority founders or lower-income individuals looking for guidance and support with their small business ideas. The startups get a workspace at Connect All’s newly renovated coworking spot in Chollas View, near Lincoln Park. Entrepreneurs will also get access to workshops, a network of mentors and help to find investment capital to grow their businesses.
Funded by a $2.5 million grant secured by the city, the accelerator is a joint project between the Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation, the city and San Diego’s oldest startup accelerator, Connect.
Previously, Connect All has admitted about 13 startups per cohort. The first startups to earn a spot at Connect All represent a variety of sectors, from software and drone companies to a doughnut bakery and a coffee shop. It’s rare for startup accelerators to admit small-business ideas like retail shops, as technology and other knowledge-based fields normally attract more investment. But unlike traditional accelerators, Connect All doesn’t take an equity stake in the startups they house and they’re open to all kinds of businesses.
So far, 25 companies have incubated in Connect All’s program, including Parabola Coffee, biotech startup Alpha Fiber, and test-prep tool Prenursing Smarter.
The accelerator is specifically looking for entrepreneurs from underrepresented minority groups and/or those with low to moderate-income. Connect All said underrepresented groups include women, African-American/Black, Hispanic/Latino, LGBTQ+ and veteran founders.
Interested parties should apply by March 30 on the Connect All website.
According to Alex Waters, director of Connect All, the group has received about 32 applications so far. Their last cohort received 62.
“In the past, we’ve received close to 50 percent of applications in the last week, and we’re expecting similar numbers this application cycle that closes on Monday, March 30,” Waters wrote in an email.