Santa Cruz Accelerates

What is Santa Cruz Accelerates?

Santa Cruz Accelerates is a small, scrappy technology accelerator that aims to support early-stage startups achieve viability in Santa Cruz County. We run Lean and encourage our portfolio companies to do the same. We support women and minority founders, and focus on nurturing viable Biotech, Transportation Tech, Action Sports Tech, Agtech, IoT, Greentech, Social Good tech, and Creative Technology startups. Our vision is a local tech ecosystem that effectively supports diverse and underserved innovators and entrepreneurs, and creates long-term job growth in the County. What do we do?

  • We focus on working with early-stage founders to identify and evaluate new market opportunities, and get their product to market.
  • We use a practical, problem-based approach to help founders refine their product, find product-market fit, identify customer segments, and execute Go-to-Market strategies. The goal is making your company a viable business.
  • We help founders fine tune their pitch and prepare for pitch events.
  • We help founders find funding and build sector verticals that can drive revenue generation.
  • We provide a space that promotes our core values of Learning, Collaboration, and Real Impact.
  • We prioritize diversity, actively seek it out in our portfolio companies, and create a safe space for all founders.

How does it work?

What you give, what you get

You commit to six months, with options to continue. You co-locate rent-free (until significant revenue generation or 6 months, whichever comes first), and benefit from working closely with in-house staff, Executive Mentors, and select mentors at large to build your startup. We require you to be a member of Santa Cruz Works upon enrollment to participate in the program. What you give is equity in your company. 


We work with you to generate your value proposition, customer segmentation, and business model, test your hypotheses in the field, execute customer discovery, etc. We emphasize moving your startup towards revenue generation, and also work hard to connect you to traditional and nontraditional funding sources to get you there.

Visibility and Marketing

Networking Events get you connected to the Santa Cruz tech landscape and your future collaborators. We host mixers, workshops, and panel discussions. We also promote your startup through showcase events, our blog, and local press contacts.

Executive Mentors

An Executive Mentor is assigned to your company, and is in charge of helping you identify your milestones, removing roadblocks that might impede your progress, and getting you the resources you need in the form of contacts, information, and expert mentors for specific issues.

Mentor Experts

Mentor Experts are brought in to help you with specific issues on an ad hoc basis.

In-house Staff

In-house staff are here to help you reach your milestones every day.

A Typical Week

Each week:

You have a one-on-one meeting with your assigned Executive Mentor and staff to set goals, strategize, and problem-solve. 


You are working on your startup, meeting with mentors, getting out of the office to test hypotheses and find customers, and generally doing the right thing. You might also have optional networking events or workshops to attend. You also practice your pitches on Thursday afternoons


Major Supporter: The University of California, Santa Cruz

See if Santa Cruz Accelerates is right for your startup

You should apply to become a portfolio company if:

  • Your product is an innovative technology-based solution to a real-world problem. Preference is given to Biotech, Action Sports/Transportation Tech, Agtech, IoT/Hardware, Social Good Tech, Green Tech, and Creative Technologies sectors.
  • You are early stage, defined as being pre-Series A funded, and you have been operating on no funding, seed funding, self-funding, friends-and-family funding, or crowdfunding sources.
  • You and your cofounders are ready to dedicate six months to intensively build your company into a scalable business that is viable and attractive to venture capital.
  • You know you have a lot to learn, are teachable, and are willing to share your lessons learned with your peers.
  • Your startup is incorporated, but pre-revenue or early revenue generation (depending on the sector).

Executive Mentors

  • Catherine Liao
    Blumio, Corkbin, Cisco, Riverbed, WHO
  • Suzanne Wouk
    SnapPost, The Founder Institute
  • Ed Colligan
    Palm, Handspring, Central Coast Angels, Radius
  • Geoff Dillon
    Catalyst Tech Innovation Group, dhamaUSA, Tenon Medical Group, Corazon
  • Peter Meehan
    Cofounder, Newman's Own Organics
  • Mark Kalow,
    Soquel Group, SmartCloud, Inc., RopePartner, Inc.
  • Toby Corey,
    SolarCity/Tesla, Inboard Technology, Buoy Labs, Tuul

Mentors at Large

  • Sol Lipman
    Ya Doggie, Yahoo, AOL, 12Seconds, Rally Up, Sticky
  • Keri Waters
    Calliope Waterworks, Vivo Technology, Santa Cruz Works, Arquetype, Chopwood
  • Bob Cagle
    ProductOps, Santa Cruz Works, Open Field Software, Krugle, Thuridion, Pegasus Records
  • Ryan Evans
    CEO, Inboard Technology
  • Doug Erickson
    Nanigans and SC New Tech Meetup
  • Matt Herman
    Wavestaff, Hall Kinion
  • Brandon Rice
    Dovetail Genomics, UCSC, NCGR
  • Quitanne Delano Ingalls
  • Benjamin Hartel
    Independent Business Growth Consultant, Steve & Kate's, Enterprise Holdings
  • Evan Rappaport
    X (formerly GoogleX), Google, Archinoetics, NovaSol
  • Kenyon Kluge
    Inboard Technology
    Electric Vehicles, Embedded Systems, Electrical Engineering
  • Creedence Shaw
    Santa Cruz County Bank
  • Angelo DeBernardo, Jr.
    Santa Cruz County Bank
  • Scott Roseman
    New Leaf Markets
  • Margaret Rosas
  • Steve Yatson
  • Robert Blumberg
    Soquel Group, Amber Kinetics, Inc.
  • Adam Weiss
    Santa Cruz County Bank
  • John Derrick, Stealth, Tonomi
  • Tim Peek
    Conscious Leadership Group
  • David Apgar
    GoalScreen, CEB, McKinsey, Haiti SME Fund, BlueOrchard Finance, Risk Intelligence
  • Meg Dennison
    Conscious Leadership Group

Technical Advisors

  • Jacob Knobel
    Ya Doggie
    Mobile Apps, Web Apps, Subscription Platforms, Software Development
  • Joel Boutros
    Calliope Waterworks, Tuul, Vivo Technology
    Iot: Web service technologies, such as Ruby/Rails, nodeis, databases: Linux and servers; AWS and deployments
  • Kenyon Kluge
    Inboard Technology
    Electric Vehicles, Embedded Systems, Electrical Engineering
  • Layne Clemen
    Alien Buffalo Designs
  • Steve Yatson
    Design, Mobile Apps, Web Apps, E-commerce, Publishing Platforms

Apply to Santa Cruz Accelerates

Everyone is encouraged to apply if you hit the criteria above, but we especially want you to apply if you are a woman, LGBTQ, or from an underserved or minority background. We are currently accepting applications for second cohort starting on October 2, 2017 - applications due July 28..  Apply here.  Please write for questions.