Santa Cruz Works Announces Santa Cruz Accelerates: Seed Stage Startup Accelerator
Santa Cruz County is on the verge of something great, and completely different from anything in its past. The technology sector has been part of life here for decades, but in the past it was dominated by big companies like Santa Cruz Operations, Borland, and Seagate. As those institutions have faded away or moved on to other places, the sector has taken on a new shape, and is now defined by small, scrappy technology startups led by entrepreneurs both born and bred and transplanted to the region. When you think about it, Santa Cruz County is an ideal place to pursue an opportunity like technology entrepreneurship - our culture is one of idea generation, collaboration, learning, and thinking just a little bit differently. We have an amazxing research university. We have a talented pool of people who only want to be able to work where they live. And yes, we are located right next door to Silicon Valley, with its plethora of knowledge, resources, technologists, and companies.
But new entrepreneurs in Santa Cruz also face challenges that their counterparts over the hill don't necessarily face to the same degree: they have trouble attracting VC investment, trouble accessing the most skilled and connected mentors to guide them along the rocky path to success, and trouble finding the right talent to build their venture from a startup to a company. The pressure to relocate to the Valley is overwhelming, and easy to succomb to since it can mean some kind of easing of those troubles. And when those startups leave Santa Cruz, our region loses talent, potential jobs, and potential tax revenue, a tragic loss to our economic development. Women and entrepreneurs from underserved populations face these challenges a thousand fold - they face incredible hurdles not only getting access to mentors or capital, but even as we know getting access to STEM training from childhood. We need to do everything we can to level the playing field and promote talented entrepreneurs from all walks of life.
With the support of UCSC, Santa Cruz Works is launching a pilot technology accelerator program here in Santa Cruz, with the goals of supporting entrepreneurs - especially women and minority founders - to build viable startups that attract investment. We will focus on nurturing viable Biotech, Transportation Tech, Agtech, IoT, and Creative Technology startups, since those are tech sectors that are strong here already and can offer supportive ecosystems, mentors, and synergies locally. We plan on starting our pilot cohort of companies in Spring 2017.
The application process is open, and we look forward to receiving applications from all qualified founders, and especially from entrepreneurs who are women and/or from underserved backgrounds! For more information and to apply, please go here.