Meet the Preferred Providers of Healthcare Talent.
Fueled by Tech, Defense, and Life Science industries, San Diego’s innovation economy relies on a pipeline of diverse talent. However, local companies continue to cite access to quality talent as a persistent challenge–98 percent of firms in San Diego are small companies (<100 employees) that often lack time and resources to effectively compete for talent with their larger counterparts. Meanwhile, many San Diegans are disconnected from high-demand job opportunities in Healthcare, largely due to education requirements.
Over the last six months, Advancing San Diego partners worked with a group of seven employers to develop a skills-based criteria for medical assistants. We asked that any education provider meeting that criteria apply for the Preferred Provider designation. An employer-led review panel then evaluated these applicants against the skills criteria to determine which programs should be designated as ‘Preferred Providers,’ recognized as those most effectively preparing individuals for jobs and internships as medical assistants.
EDC is excited to announce Preferred Providers of Healthcare Talent:
Advancing San Diego will cover the cost of internships for 30 students, sourced from the above Preferred Provider, at small clinics, doctor’s offices, and other medical facilities in the region. Selected interns will be paid and have access to additional funds to support their success in the workplace. All students from Preferred Provider programs will be invited to participate in industry engagement opportunities such as career fairs and networking events. Healthcare internships will begin in early 2022.
If you are a small medical office or healthcare provider interested in hosting Medical Assistant interns and meet this eligibility criteria, apply now by October 4, 2021!
How education programs can get involved:
Advancing San Diego will continue to designate Preferred Providers in a variety of high-demand fields. Preferred Provider criteria and applications are updated and reviewed on an annual basis. The Preferred Provider application schedule is as follows:
Alyssa Snow, a CSU San Marcos and Link to San Diego alumna, is a cybersecurity professional currently working for Teradata. She has participated in two of EDC’s Advancing San Diego industry engagement events in 2021—most recently for a Women in STEM career panel. For Alyssa, participating in these events is meaningful because she remembers how it felt to sit on the opposite end of the room only a few years back, and finding her career path through EDC’s Link to San Diego event.
Read more about Alyssa’s experience below.
How did Link to San Diego launch your career?
In my third year of college at CSU San Marcos in 2018, I attended EDC’s “Link to San Diego: Cybersecurity” career panel and industry engagement event. This event propelled my career in cybersecurity. During the event, one panelist shared what it was like to work as a security engineer, which inspired me to learn more.
I approached the panelist, a representative from Teradata, and asked him how relevant specific projects of mine may be to practical security experience. After the event, I continued to keep in touch with the professional via LinkedIn and email. He sent me various links to resources that introduced security topics that I was interested in learning more about. Eventually, this individual introduced me to a few other employees from Teradata.
I will never forget this day. It meant so much to me that six security professionals took the time to have lunch with me a few weeks after the event and answer some questions regarding what it is like to work in the industry. By the end of the lunch, the Application Security team director asked me for my resume. He informed me that there were no internship opportunities for the security organization at that time, however, he would like to reach out if one were to become available.
Just a month after this lunch, a recruiter reached out to me and asked me if I would like to interview for an open internship position on that very team. I became one of the first-ever interns in the security organization at Teradata. I interned with the Application Security team for a year and a quarter, and was responsible for delivering automated solutions to scale product security across the organization. It was a remarkable experience that gave me direction in my career path.
Where are you now?
I now work at Teradata’s San Diego office as a full-time offensive security engineer. My team and I use adversary perspectives to help Teradata evaluate risks and identify process gaps to help improve the organization’s security posture. I love working in this industry because I am constantly facing new challenges that require creative solutions. I would not have had this experience if I had not attended “Link to San Diego: Cybersecurity” in 2018.
Any business that is growing in the state of California over the next five years, or is considering leaving California, is encouraged to apply for a California Competes Tax Credit to offset its state income tax liability.
Awards are primarily based on the following factors:
Number of jobs created or retained in California
Capital investments in California over the next 5 years
Overall economic benefit to the state and its people
Flight risk; commitment to remaining in California
With new federal and state legislation enacted over the holidays, it can be challenging to sift through what’s available for businesses. Below, EDC has outlined seven new and ongoing support/resources available as businesses navigate impacts of COVID-19.
1. COVID Relief Grant Program
The State of California launched a $500 million COVID Relief Grant Program for small businesses that have been impacted by the pandemic and accompanying safety restrictions. Eligible underserved small businesses and nonprofits may apply for up to $25,000 in grant funds. Apply by Wednesday, January 13.
The EIDL grant program has reopened applications for grants up to $10,000. Businesses that did not previously receive the grant can apply, with priority given to small businesses with less than 300 employees, located in low-income neighborhoods, and that have experienced a 30 percent reduction in gross receipts. Apply now.
3. Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)
Companies with fewer than 300 employees that have experienced a greater than 25 percent reduction in gross receipts will soon be able to apply for a second PPP loan, with priority given to hardest-hit industries. Companies may receive both a PPP loan and EIDL loan without compromising PPP forgiveness. PPP loans are nontaxable and will be forgivable if used for appropriate expenses. For more information, visit the SBA website.
4. San Diego County Small Business Stimulus Grant
Small businesses and nonprofits with fewer than 100 employees may apply to receive grant funding. Final awards will be made by individual district offices based on availability of funds, program guidelines, and the submission of all required information. Apply now.
5. Employee Retention Tax Credit
Companies may now receive a credit against employment taxes for up to 70 percent on $10,000 in wages per quarter (or a maximum $14,000 per employee through June 30). Employers that experienced a decline of more than 20 percent in gross receipts may apply. For more information, visit the IRS website.
6. Employee Training Panel COVID-19 Pilot Program
Manufacturers in select industry sectors including food and medical manufacturing may receive assistance for training new and rehired employees. The program provides a training off-set for as little as four hours of training per new or rehired employee earning at least $17.50 per hour. For more information, visit the State website.
7. California Competes Tax Credit
Companies of any industry, size, or location may apply for part of $180 million available in tax credits to relocate or stay and grow in California. For more information on eligibility and assistance, visit the State website or apply by January 25.
EDC is here to help. Request our help finding information, applying to these relief programs, and more, at no charge.
In 2017, the United Stated Department of Transportation, which oversees of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), launched the unmanned aerial systems (UAS) Integration Pilot Program (IPP) to build pathways that would encourage the expansion of the commercial unmanned aerial systems industry safely and cohesively with existing piloted aircrafts.
Capitalizing on San Diego’s rich aerospace history, industry relationships, and unique operational environment, EDC partnered with the City of San Diego’s Office of Homeland Security to become one of only 10 jurisdictions across the United States to participate.
Over the past three years, San Diego IPP has laid the groundwork for regional companies of all sizes to develop cutting-edge UAS technology here in San Diego by utilizing the streamlined FAA approval process, supporting homegrown talent, and positioning the region as a UAS center of excellence by encouraging the industry’s growth.
As we wrap up the program, below are a few of the key successes:
The challenge: Chula Vista Police Department is largely understaffed—yet as the second largest city in San Diego County, it has been recognized at the tenth safest city in the United States with jurisdictions of more than 270,000 residents.
The solution: In coordination with the San Diego IPP, Chula Vista Police Department became the first in the nation to utilize drones as a proactive public safety tool. The department saw drones as a new opportunity to create a Drone as a First Responder (DFR) unit as a safer, less expensive alternative to helicopter and officer units.
San Diego IPP helped Chula Vista Police Department obtain a FAA permissions and waivers to provide safe, transparent jurisdictional coverage. Ultimately, Chula Vista Police Department was able to dispatch UAS to remotely assess the scene of emergency calls for service.
The results: Together, San Diego IPP and Chula Vista Police Department achieved great heights:
First public safety organization in the nation to be granted a Beyond Visual Line of Sight Certificate of Authorization.
First in the nation to achieve a Tactical Beyond Visual Line of Sight (“Close Proximity, Low Altitude”) Waiver. This enables police officers on scene to utilize small UAS to search behind obstacles, at a very low altitude to ensure safety for the officers, suspect, and potential bystanders.
First in the nation to achieve 2-to-1 Operations and is pending 100 percent jurisdictional coverage for a Public Aircraft Operator Certificate of Authorization. This enables the Remote Pilot in Command (the operator) to operate two drones at one time, an operation that required an entirely new FAA process to be created, and ultimately expanded service coverage for all residents in the City of Chula Vista.
Statewide, nationwide, and international acclaim for public safety and innovation. San Diego IPP and Chula Vista Police Department received the 2020 AUVSI XCELLENCE Humanitarian and Public Safety Award, the 2019 California Police Chief’s Association Innovation Award, and were highlighted in UAS Norway, Chicago Tribune, Police Chief Magazine, Interdrone, Department of Justice’s DRONES publication, and more.
To date, DFR has responded to 4,303 calls, assisted in the arrest of 558 suspects, was the first to arrive on scene 1,987times, and has an average response time of 224.49 seconds.
Notably, in 1,065 instances, DFR has been able to avoid dispatching officer patrol units on scene—freeing those resources for other service calls and mitigating potential officer-involved confrontations.
COMPLEX AND CRITICAL Delivery
Despite airspace complexities and difficult operating environments, San Diego IPP leapt at the prospect to test the viability of both commercial food and medical specimen delivery within our region. San Diego IPP partnered with Uber, Matternet, and UPS Flight Forward to accomplish cutting-edge, time-sensitive deliveries in San Diego.
The challenge: On the heels of a white paper on the future of urban air transportation, Uber Elevate was born. To bring its vision to fruition, Elevate determined a need for a multi-pronged effort at advancing Urban Air Mobility (UAM) efforts nationwide, but needed help obtaining permission for and conducting safe delivery testing.
The solution: Through a series of tests and strategic public-private partnerships, IPP helped the company take the first step toward urban air transportation.
San Diego IPP matured Uber Elevate’s initial business model past short-distance flights at San Diego State University to focus on a more complex delivery route from coastal Chula Vista to the Coronado Cays. San Diego IPP and Uber Elevate worked with local public and private partners for three months to coordinate efforts for a single week of safe delivery testing and an official Part 107 Commercial Food Delivery in December 2019.
Initially focused on food delivery convenience for the end user, San Diego IPP and Uber Elevate ultimately found an opportunity to expand areas of service for regional small businesses and provide options for communities without equal access to food delivery.
The results: Through this effort, San Diego IPP achieved:
The first real time Remote Identification test in the country. Remote Identification allows interested parties to utilize an application that enables the individual(s) watching to identify the drone operator and follow the drones path in real time.
Strategic public-private partnerships. To achieve one week of operations, San Diego IPP coordinated efforts with Department of Defense (DoD), Department of Homeland Security (DHS), United States Navy – North Island Naval Air Station, and the local field office at Customs and Border Protection to mandate a minimum altitude to avoid conflicts with existing aviators. Additionally, San Diego IPP worked with the Port of San Diego to create new land use agreements for take-off and landing zones in undeveloped areas along the San Diego Bay for the week of operations. Finally, the Cities of Chula Vista and Coronado both engaged in testing planning efforts and advocacy. The first official Part 107 Delivery was made to Coronado City Council Member, Bill Sandke.
Innovative safety process formation. The United States Fish and Wildlife Service, which oversees two sanctuaries adjacent to the route, worked with the San Diego IPP team to create solutions to addresses the safe operations of UAS in, near, and around animal sanctuaries, in coordination with FAA and the Department of the Interior legal counsels.
Medical Specimen Delivery
The challenge: With San Diego’s globally recognized expertise and innovation in life sciences, medical specimen delivery was a particularly important goal. With the ability to delivers medical specimens via UAS, San Diego healthcare providers could improve delivery speed and reliability, and ultimately cut costs and improve care. However, Matternet needed help obtaining waivers for night operations and flights over people to support its tests.
The solution: After extensive groundwork, San Diego IPP helped Matternet obtain accommodations for proof-of-concept flights at UC San Diego Health’s Jacobs Medical Center, including a §107.39 waiver enabling operations over people and a §107.29 waiver enabling operations at night. Matternet and UPS Flight Forward were operable and making vertical moves in San Diego by early 2020.
The results: San Diego IPP, with Matternet and UPS Flight Forward, accomplished:
Two separate route approvals on the UCSD Health Jacobs Medical Center Campus.
After three years of aiding in the development and growth of an emerging innovation industry, San Diego IPP will not be moving forward with the FAA’s next step, BEYOND.
EDC will continue to work to ensure San Diego remains a welcome space to research, design, develop, test, and advocate for the drone community, and will continue to provide exemplary service for any UAS business interested in expanding their business or concepts in our region.
Finally, we are excited to continue working with our regional leaders to ensure that we support opportunities that advance this emerging industry, as innovation is the cornerstone to our region.
Integration Pilot Program: San Diego’s foundation for emerging aviation technology
Over the last several months, the economic development team has kept a close pulse on the businesses that make up our regional economy – and EDC’s economic development committee has always pivoted to support, by addressing current challenges and changes to our economy.
Where every recovery before this one has widened inequality, EDC is committed to making sure we get this recovery right. During this pivotal moment, through the perspectives of a variety of businesses and stakeholders, the committee is focused on highlighting economic development solutions and charting the path to an inclusive resilient recovery. As we collectively turn to rebuilding our economy, it has never been more important to do so thoughtfully and holistically, with equity as a lens and skilled workers, quality jobs, and thriving households as the core building blocks.
This past September, the committee discussed emerging trends in commercial real estate and the redevelopment of the Midway District.
The Good, The Bad, and The Uncertain
Our discussion began with an informative commercial real estate market update presented by Tom Turner, vice president at CBRE. Tom highlighted emerging industry trends across the San Diego market focusing on potential growth, and concentration of key employees.
Tom noted that major key tenants that are continuing to hire based on advancements of new technologies specifically related to 5G and artificial intelligence, and that tech companies are continuing to support our local industry growth. Also contributing to the potential for regional economic growth are major redevelopment projects underway, specifically around NAVWAR and the Midway District Community Plan.
Opportunities in San Diego’s Midway District
With the timely announcement surrounding the City of San Diego’s selection of the winning development bid for the Sports Arena and Midway district, the committee hosted a panel discussion with regional leaders on future plans for the community and what it will mean for transit, housing and job opportunities.
Dike Anyiwo moderated this discussion. A policy adviser at the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce & vice chair of the Midway Pacific Highway Community Planning Group, Anyiwo focused on equitable development for small businesses and how to align the community with future development plans.
Zach Adams, vice president of development at Brookfield Properties, presented on his company’s winning bid and the vision to establish new parks, bring new opportunities for businesses, and offer affordable housing in San Diego’s Midway District.
NAVWAR Executive Director John Pope emphasized the importance of the Navy Old Town Campus Revitalization Project to NAVWAR’s high-tech mission and rapidly growing cyber and information warfare requirements. For NAVWAR, this would be a transformative opportunity to retain thousands of mission-driven tech jobs in the region.
Finally, Hasan Ikhrata, executive director at SANDAG, provided additional details on regional transit development and future goals in the Midway community to greater align opportunities for talent access in San Diego.
The state of California has established a four tier system for reopening nonessential business sectors. Businesses listed in Tier 2, including hair salons, places of worship, gyms, and restaurants, may reopen modified indoor operations that ensure employee and customer health and safety.
What you need to know
In addition to the information laid out in prior public health orders, new updates came into effect on September 1.
Hair Salons, Barbershops, Nail Salons, and Personal Care Services
Must require all customers receiving service indoors or using indoor facilities to sign in with their name and phone number
Places of Worship
Max 25% capacity or 100 people, whichever is fewer
May host religious, cultural, and wedding ceremonies indoors with modifications and in compliance with state guidance
Gyms and Fitness Centers
Max 10% capacity
Must require all customers receiving service indoors or using indoor facilities to sign in with their name and phone number
Restaurants, Wineries, Bars, Breweries, and Distilleries (where meal is provided)
Max 25% capacity or 100 people, whichever is fewer
Must require all guests receiving service indoors or using indoor facilities to sign in with their name and phone number
Must maintain the list of names and phone numbers for three weeks
Must require guests to wear face coverings at all times while in the facility, including when seated at a table before the meal is served and after the meal is finished
Highly encouraged: limit indoor guests to only members of the same household at each table
MORE business RESOURCES
New Statewide Financial Assistance
Governor Gavin Newsom recently signed several bills intended to bolster small businesses across California. This includes excluding forgiven Paycheck Protection Program loans from taxable income, and offering up to $100 million in tax credits for small businesses impacted by the pandemic that agree to hire new or laid-off workers. For more information, visit the State website and fact sheet.
Business Revitalization and Assistance Grant Program
The County of San Diego has introduced a new program that offers businesses located in unincorporated areas up to $8,000 to help improve the front exteriors of their buildings. Applications will be accepted from October 1-15, 2020. For more information on the application process, eligibility, and general grant guidelines, please visit the County website.
Employment Training Panel
The Employment Training Panel’s Small Business Program reimburses some training costs for small businesses with 100 or fewer employees. The program covers between eight to 200 hours of instruction for both small business owners and their employees, and includes re-training to adjust and shift with COVID-19 regulations. For more information, visit the State website.
The Advancing San Diego (ASD) Internship Program launched this Spring in a remote-capacity amid the COVID-19 pandemic and aims to provide up to 100 San Diego-based companies with fully subsidized interns. This program targets companies with 100 employees or less, which comprise 98% of all businesses in San Diego, employ nearly two thirds of San Diegans, and account for 70 percent of job growth. A key issue for these companies has been a lack of time and resources to recruit the skilled talent necessary to continue their growth.
As students are closing out their Summer internship experiences, EDC is rolling out this blog series to highlight the innovative local companies that comprise the first cohort of the program, and the interns they hosted.
In this feature, we sat down with Paul Victorine, CTO and Co-Founder at Tourmaline Wireless, who hosted two ASD interns. A part of the inaugural cohort of host companies, Tourmaline Wireless is building the future of decentralized wireless telecommunications. The Oceanside-based company provides resilient, off-grid solutions based on mesh networks, 4G LTE, and Iridium satellite.
Why was your company founded, and what are your current points of focus?
I started the company at the beginning of 2019, after having worked for a Tier-1 wireless operator for nearly 20 years. I jumped at the opportunity to start my own consulting business, leveraging an extensive background in deploying and optimizing cellular networks. Tourmaline is currently developing a new gateway product that will allow localized mesh networks to connect to geographically separated networks across the globe. This gateway will allow neighborhoods and communities affected by natural disasters to continue communicating with their loved ones. This allows for the sharing of hyper-local information and will support offline payment remittances in far-off corners of the world. It might even provide hikers along the Pacific Crest Trail a means of “checking-in” with friends and family at various mile markers. There are many use-cases we envision for the mesh gateway, and we are excited to see how our customers anticipate using the device too!
Tell us about your experience building a small business in San Diego. What resources, services and/or organizations were most valuable in supporting Tourmaline’s growth?
Building a startup in San Diego has been a great experience overall! Valuable resources include following San Diego Regional EDC, Innovate78, and the City of Oceanside. There is a ton of talent here in San Diego – largely coming out of the many colleges and universities spread throughout the county. There is also a surprising amount of resources available here that help support small business. I’ve been really impressed with all the grants, loans, and positive encouragement broadcast daily from San Diego Regional EDC.
How has your company pivoted as a result of COVID-19?
As a result of COVID-19, we decided to go all-in and focus exclusively on new product development as our day-to-day consulting jobs (designing, installing, and optimizing cellular in-building equipment) were mostly sidelined due to COVID-19.
Tell us a little bit about your interns and the value they bring.
We are currently hosting two college interns through the ASD program, who you’ll hear from in another blog post. One intern is soon graduating from UC San Diego, with a BS in Computer Science. Our second intern will be starting her Junior year at NYU, as a transfer from Mesa College, also studying Computer Science. The internship experience was definitely a challenge given its fully remote format. Plus, it was our first time hosting interns, but it turned out to be a rewarding experience for all of us. They helped troubleshoot and improve our existing software codebase, adding new features and functionality. We were able to meet up in-person (socially distanced, of course) for a field day of wireless range testing at Balboa Park. It was a fun experience and I think it helped the interns better understand the capability of wireless mesh communications.
In your opinion, what is special about San Diego’s science and technology community, and the talent that drives it?
San Diego has historically been a technology-driven community, from the early days with the focus on military and defense (companies like General Dynamics) to the early 2000’s being a wireless hotbed (including Qualcomm, Nokia, etc). Now we are starting to see software really taking hold here, with companies like Apple opening offices and building out their local workforce. San Diego really is the perfect choice for STEAM students to select for college and then stay to launch their careers.
EDC’s inclusive growth strategy is fueled by three key economic ingredients: skilled workers, quality jobs (particularly in small companies) and thriving households. Launched in 2019 with funding from JP Morgan Chase, Advancing San Diego is helping the region meet its inclusive growth goals by addressing skilled talent shortages and expanding access to quality job opportunities. Advancing San Diego partners, in lockstep with industry and education partners, recognize that each group has a role to play in developing and strengthening our local talent pool.
The challenge & the opportunity
Employers cite access to diverse, qualified talent as a top challenge within their business, relying on high-cost recruitment strategies to fill job openings. Meanwhile, San Diego is a diverse community with an education system that serves hundreds of thousands of San Diegans (10 community colleges, 5 universities, numerous non-traditional training programs). Black and Hispanic San Diegans make up more than half of our population, but are glaringly underrepresented in high-demand jobs.
Advancing San Diego introduces a collaborative, region-wide strategy to prepare San Diegans for high-demand jobs via our locally-serving education intuitions. While labor market data is improving, there is not a consistent approach for adapting education to meet industry expectations. With clear and consistent communication about skills, we collectively create an environment where San Diegans are trained for, and can access quality job opportunities, and employers can look to our local talent pool for their hiring needs.
Talent development amid a global pandemic
We felt the initial impacts of the pandemic across our entire economy. Unemployment in San Diego rose from 4.2% to 15% in a matter of months, with some industries experiencing a 50% decline in their workforce. Of the jobs impacted the most, many were already at risk of decline due to factors including automation and digitization. Further, the highest-risk jobs are disproportionately held by Black and Hispanic San Diegans.
Other industries, particularity innovation industries, took less of a hit as business held steady and employees had the option to work remotely. Jobs most insulated from the impacts of the pandemic are disproportionately held by white and Asian San Diegans.
Pre- and post-COVID-19, software developers continue to rank among the highest demand occupations in San Diego. In May, software developers were the second most advertised job in San Diego, with 3,000 postings. With numerous training options beyond a 4-year degree, software engineers can be trained relatively quickly at a much lower cost to the individual, and both training and jobs can be done from essentially anywhere with an internet connection. As such, Advancing San Diego started its work by informing education providers on skills requirements for software engineers, and is actively working with employers do the same for engineering and business professionals.
The Advancing San Diego approach
Advancing San Diego is a demand-driven, outcomes based strategy for strengthening lines of communication between industry and education, and expanding access to talent for small companies.
COMMUNICATION: employer working groups communicate hiring requirements for entry-level jobs, offer feedback to education providers on how to update & improve curriculum, and recognize “Preferred Providers” as delivering top-quality training for quality jobs. It’s through this process that employers also gain a better understanding of which local institutions they should be recruiting from. YEAR 1 PROGRESS: 30+ employers have actively engaged in working groups to communicate skills criteria, offer feedback on curricula, and grow the network of Preferred Provider programs. Following their participation in the working group, many employers express interest in hiring from a community college, university, or non-traditional training program where they had not previously recruited from. >> Skills Reports for Software Talent & Engineering Talent
ADAPTATION: with better communication from industry, education programs can more effectively train talent that employers want to hire. Education programs are also recognized by employers for their ability to reach and serve a diverse student body. YEAR 1 PROGRESS: Employers have offered feedback to 21 education programs; 7 have been selected as Preferred Providers of software talent, and Preferred Providers of engineering talent will be announced in coming weeks. Multiple programs who were not selected are actively adapting programs for reconsideration as a Preferred Providers, which are evaluated annually. >> More information on Preferred Providers
ACCESS: Small companies (<100 employees) often do not have the time or resources to effectively recruit top talent. At no cost to them, small companies can host paid interns from Preferred Provider programs as part of Advancing San Diego. These companies receive training for building successful remote teams, access to a software platform for managing remote interns, and interns are eligible for $500 in products or services that support their internship success. The internship program prioritizes students who are first generation college students, community college students, or residents of San Diego’s low income communities. YEAR 1 PROGRESS: 22 small companies from a variety of industries are hosting ASD interns remotely this summer. A second cohort of companies is currently being recruited to meet interest in this program from students, many of whom are experiencing heightened anxiety due to job-market uncertainty. >> The average size of companies in this cohort is 12 employees, and 54% of host companies identify as either minority, woman, disabled, veteran, or immigrant-owned. >> ASD has placed +40 software engineering interns from community college, university, and non-traditional education backgrounds. 100% of interns are either first-gen college students, community college students, veterans, or residents of San Diego’s low income communities.
Advancing San Diego was designed as a cyclical process that is responsive to the ever-changing needs of the economy. Our priority remains to better prepare the local talent pool for the jobs our economy needs, and provide better access to talent for small companies. Even once shelter-in-place guidelines are lifted, we will continue to offer paid remote work experiences as one way to remove geographic and scheduling barriers for students and companies.
However, we realize that not all jobs can be done remotely. While we will continue to focus on high-demand job areas such as software, we will lean into jobs that are economically resilient, good-paying jobs that are accessible via shorter-term training and have cross-cutting industry need. We believe this approach will increase our ability to support those most impacted by the pandemic on a path to economic stability.
The Advancing San DiegoInternship Program launched this spring and students are now beginning their summer internship experiences in a remote-capacity amid the COVID-19 pandemic. While students’ experiences are in their early stages, we’re launching this blog series to highlight the exciting local companies that are hosting interns in the program’s first round of internships.
We sat down with Steve Moyo, CEO at Welfie. Part of the inaugural cohort of host companies, Welfie, which stands for a ‘wellness selfie’, provides a snapshot of one’s health and delivers personalized content, products and services to meet individuals’ health needs – all while connecting users with people and professionals who care.
Tell us about you and your story.
I am a Zulu. I was born in Zambia and grew up in Canada. I moved to the US for medical school where I met a wonderful woman from Michigan. After I finished my Internal Medicine residency at The Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore I moved here to San Diego, for said woman. I founded Welfie as an extension of what I am most passionate about: promoting heart health and using content to tell stories. Heart disease is the number one killer in the U.S., and much like COVID-19, it has profoundly impacted the various communities that I am connected to, from healthcare workers to communities of color. Welfie is excited to be helping communities, universities, colleges and businesses, solve the immediate problem of how to “Get Back To Campus, Safely” with our symptom screening app and high quality PPE. But our long term focus is much bigger than just COVID-19, we sit primed to address important issues of our time, which include heart health, mental health and racial health disparities. We are starting here, in San Diego, focusing on local schools, businesses and communities and we call on any San Diego community leaders to contact us to collaborate.
How was your experience building a small business/startup in San Diego?
San Diego has been a great place to start a company. There are countless individuals, consultants, companies and organizations that have been essential to getting us where we are today. We are proud members of The Brink, San Diego Venture Group (now Connect), and part of the third cohort at Connect All Jacobs Center. The San Diego Angels Conference has been immensely influential as well as San Diego Startup Week. These are just a few of the organizations that have helped us grow rapidly and find our way in the entrepreneurial start up world.
How has your company pivoted as a result of COVID-19?
Welfie offers a one-stop-shop for universities, colleges and businesses to “Get Back To Campus, Safely.” We developed a simple 3-point plan:
Prepare – Welfie has launched a COVID-19 symptom screening app to help community leaders prepare to return. Screen employees and students daily for symptoms and fever. And create a culture of trust, care and accountability.
Prevent – We have a high quality PPE store backed by an FDA/NIOSH certified supply chain where you can get PPE in bulk and subscribe to the Welfie Care Package – PPE delivered to your door monthly.
Protect – we are developing real time data analytics and insights that will allow community leaders and individuals to assess their risk, and make the right decisions for their communities, families and themselves.The decision to pivot was easy. We had to do something. Identifying the right thing to do and where we felt we could have the greatest impact, quickly was the key. We ultimately decided to stick to our wheelhouse, education, engagement and empowering people to make the right decisions. So while I used to say ‘pivot’, I now prefer to say expanded. Welfie is a community health platform that has been focused on prevention. We started our journey focused on heart health, and have expanded to COVID-19.
How did you find out about Advancing San Diego and how has your experience been so far?
Credit goes to the local San Diego network. It was one of those weeks where mentors and advisors were all pointing me in the right direction and Advancing San Diego came up in numerous conversations. One key part of the community health platform we are building centers around health influencers, doctors, fitness coaches, perhaps even your mom. Our current software development interns are focused on building the essential features that a health influencer would need, from chat to a social health feed and including video hosting capabilities.
What is special about San Diego’s science and technology community, and the talent that drives it?
I think honesty and humility are two keywords that define the community here. People honestly want to see each other succeed. There is a great energy that San Diego is on the cusp of becoming an even stronger science and tech hub. And, that instead of exporting talent we are importing, cultivating and nurturing people and companies right here. The humility of San Diego’s leaders in science and technology to remain open to connection, mentorship and collaboration with local startups has been unique.
What words of advice would you give to the San Diego community to more effectively support entrepreneurs?
Perhaps it is the musician in me speaking but I would love to continue to see more collaboration. I think, specifically, in the area where Welfie is focused, digital health. There is a ‘stronger together’ narrative for startups to be able to succeed in the current environment. So intra-industry collaboration plus collaborating across industry as well I think can only enhance opportunity, success and is just fun.