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On October 9th, community members and the press gathered to watch 9 businesses pitch as part of the graduation celebration for the inaugural cohort of the CONNECT ALL at the Jacobs Center accelerator program. The city-backed accelerator is the first of its kind in San Diego to focus on diverse and low-to-moderate income founders and offers services without requiring an equity stake. The 6 month program offers co-working space, business workshops, mentorship, and more. To learn more about the program which just accepted its second cohort, visit their website here.

 

Among the businesses pitching as part of the graduation were PromoDrone, Access Trax, Mapigator, Shukor Bella, SmartGuider, Standard Spoon, the Dojo Café, Hyp3r, and Surf Durt. Sponsored by Union Bank, the prize of the contest was a generous $10,000 to help the winner scale their company. The competition was close, but Access Trax was ultimately decided the winner, due in part because of the ability to create local jobs. CEO Kelly Twichel recalls the wave of emotion as the Regional President of Union Bank, Isai Amaya, announced Access Trax. “I was so proud and grateful. It represented a milestone in all of the hard work and passion I’ve poured into this company over the past 3 years. Connect All at the Jacobs Center was an incredible opportunity and this win was the cherry on top. I’m excited to keep moving forward.”

With the funds, Kelly plans to take Access Trax to 2 key tradeshows next year to reach ADA Coordinators and Parks and Recreation. This will be important for increasing outdoor accessibility at the community level. Access Trax is also preparing to hire its first part-time employees and complete prototyping of a new pathway model geared towards city use. The win has also attracted a new wave of positive media exposure. The San Diego Union Tribune published an article about Access Trax and the win, and Kelly was invited on Fox 5 San Diego News for an interview (video in previous blog post). This momentum will help as Kelly pitches to the City of San Diego for a real solution to the beach access issue at Dog Beach in Ocean Beach.