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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 Leanand 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 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

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).

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 Cohort 3 starting in late March 2018. Please write for questions.

Executive Mentors

Toby Corey

Stanford University Lecturer
Tesla, Tuul, Solar City, USWeb/CKS

Doug Erickson

VP, West Coast Sales
Saba, SugarCRM, Cisco WebEx

Jacob Martinez

Founder/Executive Director
Digital Nest Inc.
ETR Associates

Ed Colligan

Palm, Handspring, Central Coast Angels, Radius

Toby Corey

SolarCity/Tesla, Inboard Technology, Buoy Labs, Tuul

Keri Waters

CEO & Co-founder
Buoy Labs
Vivo Technology, Santa Cruz Works, Arqetype, Chopwood

Mark Kalow

Soquel Group, SmartCloud, Inc., RopePartner, Inc.

Catherine Liao

Corkbin, Cisco, Riverbed, WHO

Peter Meehan

Cofounder, Newman's Own Organics

Mentors at Large

Scot Herbst

Herbst Produkt

Ryan Evans

Inboard Technology

Kenyon Kluge

Inboard Technology
Electric Vehicles, Electrical Engineering, Embedded Systems

Steve Yatson

Web Apps, Publishing Platforms, E-commerce, Design, Mobile Apps

David Apgar

CEB, McKinsey, Haiti SME Fund, BlueOrchard Finance, Risk Intelligence

Robert Blumberg

Soquel Group, Amber Kinetics, Inc.

Bob Cagle

CEO & Co-founder
Santa Cruz Works, Open Field Software, Krugle, Thuridion, Pegasus Records

Angelo DeBernardo, Jr.

Santa Cruz County Bank

Quitanne Delano Ingalls


Meg Dennison

Conscious Leadership Group

John Derrick, Stealth, Tonomi

Doug Erickson

Nanigans and SC New Tech Meetup

Benjamin Hartel

Independent Business Growth Consultant
Steve & Kate's, Enterprise Holdings

Matt Herman

Hall Kinion

Mark Hockett

Magnadyne Corporation

Sol Lipman

Ya Doggie
Yahoo, AOL, 12Seconds Rally Up, Sticky

Tim Peek

Conscious Leadership Group

Evan Rappaport

X (formerly GoogleX)
Google, Archinoetics, NovaSol

Brandon Rice

Dovetail Genomics

Margaret Rosas


Scott Roseman

New Leaf Markets

Creedence Shaw

Santa Cruz County Bank

Suzanne Wouk

The Founder Institute

Geoff Dillon

Catalyst Tech Innovation Group
dhamaUSA, Tenon Medical Group, Corazon

David Moore

Fuzz Stati0n

Adam Weiss

Santa Cruz County Bank

Jim Stewart

Senior Executive
Enterprise Strategy Group
Sales, Sales Channels
Terascala, Omnion

Technical Advisors

Jacob Knobel

Ya Doggie
Web Apps, Subscription Platforms, Software Development, Mobile Apps

Kenyon Kluge

Inboard Technology
Electric Vehicles, Electrical Engineering, Embedded Systems

Steve Yatson

Web Apps, Publishing Platforms, E-commerce, Design, Mobile Apps

Joel Boutros

Buoy Labs
Databases, IoT, AWS
Tuul, Vivo Technology

Layne Clemen

Alien Buffalo Designs