Union Bank Start-Up Pitch Competition Announces First Place Winner “Worthy Picks”

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In Partnership with CONNECT ALL @ the Jacobs Center and the City of San Diego, Three Entrepreneurs Recognized 

SAN DIEGO (Dec. 18, 2020) — Today, CONNECT ALL @ the Jacobs Center and Union Bank announced the winners of the third Union Bank Start-Up Pitch Competition. In partnership with the City of San Diego, the virtual pitch competition is the culmination of four months of training and mentorship for the third group of businesses in the program. CONNECT ALL @ the Jacobs Center is the region’s only business accelerator focused on serving low-to-moderate income and diverse founders.  

“With so many local businesses struggling because of the pandemic, the mission of CONNECT ALL @ the Jacobs Center to elevate diverse businesses is as important as ever,” said Christina Bibler, economic development director for the City of San Diego. “Congratulations to Worthy Picks and to all the businesses that participated. I look forward to the City’s continued support for this program to fuel this pipeline of entrepreneurial talent and local jobs.”    

The first-place winner of the competition is Worthy Picks, a startup owned by Anahi Abe-Brower, offering a curated selection of eco-friendly products, specializing in bamboo and organic cotton, to inspire a sustainable lifestyle. Abe-Brower received a $7,500 cash prize to support her business. 

“Anahi Abe-Brower did a fantastic job of showing the judges the need for her eco-friendly business and growth trajectory,” said Jeanette Gann-Escobar, Union Bank Director and Branch Manager for the downtown San Diego location and a judge on the panel. “We agree with Anahi that big changes often start with small steps and look forward to seeing her company thrive.”  

The second-place award went to Meri Consulting Services, a professional services firm that provides proven sales, legal, digital transformation and marketing strategies to tech startups and small-to-medium size businesses, led by Meri Birhane. The startup won a $5,000 cash prize, as well as the “Audience Choice” Award based on public voting. 

Placing third, The STEAM Collaborative focuses on Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math (STEAM) with youth program leaders to innovate STEAM education solutions, targeting girls and African American youth. The company, which is led by Jasmine Sadler, was awarded $2,500.  

In total, nine companies competed in the virtual pitch competition and 14 companies have completed the business accelerator program overall: ALine Design + Drafting, Best Vibes Family Tribes, Best Way Construction Services, Blue Ribbon Kitchen, Los Brothers Tacos, Meals in Motion, Meri Consulting Services, Moon Garden Meditation, Nakamura Partners, San Diego Black Professionals, San Diego International Birthing Project, The STEAM Collaborative, Worthy Picks and Welfie.  

Each organization presented their ideas in a five-minute video pitch, and a panel of judges viewed and voted based on pre-determined criteria, including business model, market opportunity, job creation potential and long-term vision. All the videos can be viewed at bit.ly/CAJCpitch3.   

CONNECT ALL @ the Jacobs Center is a strategic partnership between the City of San Diego, Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation and CONNECT w/ San Diego Venture Group.  

This program is funded in whole or in part with Community Development Block Grant program funds provided by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to the City of San Diego, and private funding from partners, such as the MUFG Union Bank foundation and bkm OfficeWorks. In addition to being a financial supporter, Union Bank colleagues have also provided volunteer support since its inception in 2018. 

About CONNECT ALL @ the Jacobs Center
CONNECT ALL @ the Jacobs Center (CAJC) is the region’s first low-to-moderate-income and diversity-focused business accelerator program, guiding startups that want to grow rapidly with all the support they need to be successful. A partnership between the City of San Diego, the Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation and CONNECT w/ San Diego Venture Group, the program provides participants with mentors, weekly workshops and guidance on how to scale their businesses.

CAJC also includes a Business Resource Center, so that all entrepreneurs and small businesses can learn about local services and support to move their ideas and businesses forward. This program is funded in whole or in part with Community Development Block Grant program funds provided by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to the City of San Diego, and private funding from partners, such as MUFG Union Bank N.A. and bkm OfficeWorks.

To learn more or get involved, visit connectallsd.org

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