As entrepreneurship is becoming an increasingly popular career choice, the role of startup accelerator programs has become even more critical as they work to promote growth for small businesses. One such local accelerator that’s making a big impact on the San Diego startup community is Connect All at the Jacobs Center. This episode will spotlight the relationship between an entrepreneur and an accelerator program with guests Anahi Abe-Brower, founder of Worthy Picks, and Danea Ramos, Director of Business Resource Center at Connect All at the Jacobs Center.
Listen in as Neal Bloom discusses a startup's journey, an accelerator program’s benefits, and the relation between the two with Danea and Anahi.
Danea details her involvement with Connect All at the Jacobs Center, explaining the two distinct services available: a Business Resource Center and an Accelerator Program. The Business Resource Program is targeted towards both current and aspiring entrepreneurs who need guidance and support. The Accelerator moves one step forward and helps these companies grow, scale, and eventually foster jobs. Over 100 businesses have utilized the Business Resource program and over 35 have gone through the Accelerator program.
Meanwhile, Anahi takes us through the journey of Worthy Picks and the influence behind her eco friendly product line. Back in 2016, she discovered bamboo straws at a restaurant in Indonesia and was instantly hooked. She expressed her fascination with the straws to the owner, who then took her to the place they were grown. Anahi knew people in California would love the concept and so she designed a mental image on the spot. After a year of branding and manufacturing, she launched her single product line, Buluh Straws.
Buluh Straws are entirely handmade, and are thus manufactured by her friends in Indonesia. To increase productivity, volunteers from the community helped out in the process of cutting, polishing, cleaning, boiling, drying, and shaping in addition to researching how to launch and create a successful product.
As the company continued to grow, Anahi realized they needed additional help. She discovered Connect All through her friend, Matthew Rivaldi, and has since been able to further develop her skills. Connect All has virtually helped scale, understand, and grow the company, with the introduction of online courses designed specifically for new entrepreneurs.
For Connect All at the Jacobs Center, Danea discusses the transition from an in person to virtual environment and what challenges were endured. Initially, they struggled in finding the proper way to provide resources to these companies while encouraging a sense of community; eventually, they overcame this and are looking to expand virtually in the coming months. Anahi shares her experience in virtually connecting with the cohorts. She expresses the benefits of the accountability groups, weekly check ins, and Tuesday classes, all which foster a greater, supportive community of like minded entrepreneurs.
To track progress, Connect All records metrics to develop a better understanding of how businesses are doing. They implement surveys at the beginning and at the end to analyze the progress in addition to monthly and quarterly surveys to ensure constant communication and growth.
The greatest opportunity to showcase company potential and growth is at pitch competitions. Danea speaks of an upcoming virtual pitch competition, Demo Day, that will run from December 6th-12th, in which cohort members will record 5 minute pitches. The Connect All team will then upload it to their YouTube channel. A fun feature they have introduced this year is the Audience Choice Awards, in which the community can vote on their favorite video by 11:59 p.m. on December 12. A winner will be announced and receive an iPad and products from different cohorts. As for the pitch competition, the judges will look through the videos all week, and the first, second, and third place winners will be awarded cash prizes of $7,500, $5,000, and $2,500 respectively.
Anahi is incredibly excited to pitch her product to a panel of experienced judges and showcase her passion to the tech community. Moving forward, she plans to use all the knowledge regarding finances and startup growth acquired at Connect All to further build her company. Her priority currently is to scale the business and expand into gardens, co-ops, and sustainable markets.
Danea’s favorite local tacos: Carne asada and adobada tacos at Tacos el Gordo
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Thanks to our partners at Cox Business for their support in enabling us to grow the San Diego ecosystem.