FirstGen Scholars, the winner of a start-up pitch competition as part of the CONNECT ALL at the Jacobs Center business accelerator program. Photo credit: Screen shot, firstgenscholars.com/

The winners of the fourth Union Bank Start-Up Pitch Competition include a business that supports aspiring college students, an online skincare store and a designer of wood artwork.

The competition took place as part of CONNECT ALL at the Jacobs Center, in partnership with the City of San Diego. The fourth group of startups in the program received four months of free business development and mentorship, including guidance on how to scale their businesses.

The CONNECT ALL program is the region’s only accelerator focused on serving low-to-moderate income and diverse founders.

“These businesses and their founders are integral to the San Diego startup and small business community and the growth of our economy,” ,” said Christina Bibler, San Diego’s director of economic development.

First Gen Scholars, a startup owned by Jonathan Burgos that focuses on helping high school seniors with the college application process, won first place. The business also mentors first-generation college students.

The award includes a $7,500 prize from Union Bank to support the business, which also won the Audience Choice award, determined by a 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 judge Bruno Rodriguez, a Union Bank branch manager.

Second place went to Charbon Plus, a company that provides African skincare products through an online store led by Lucien Eloundou. The startup won a $5,000 prize.

Oscar Corral’s Hexagon Laser, which specializes in designing and manufacturing wood artwork using laser-engraving and laser-cutting techniques, placed third, with a prize of $2,500. 

In addition to the three winners, eight companies competed in the virtual pitch competition and 10 in the program: Baby Diary, BRENTFORDE Media, Challenge Island San Diego Coastal, D.A. Servicing, Girlie Garage, 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 Reginald Jones, the Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation’s president and CEO, noting “their impassioned work ethic.”

Each company presented their ideas in a five-minute video pitch. A panel of judges viewed and voted based on several criteria, including business model, market opportunity, job creation potential and long-term vision.

The videos may be viewed on CONNECT ALL at the Jacobs Center’s YouTube channel.  

The program is funded with Community Development Block Grants from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and private funding from partners, including Union Bank, MUFG Union Bank N.A., and bkm OfficeWorks. 

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