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, Agtech, IoT, and Creative Technology startups.

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 with our 50% Investment Rule, and create a safe space for all founders.

How does it work?

What you give, what you get

You commit to three or 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, an Entrepreneur-in-Residence, and select mentors to build your startup. Your fee for the total value of all the services provided by the program is just 2% equity in your company (more details available). A fee-for-service option is also available. We also requre you to be a member of Santa Cruz Works to participate in the program.


We loosely use the Lean Business Model Canvas 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


Community check-in in the morning where we share our goals for the week, then a one-on-one meeting with the EIR and staff to strategize, plan mentor meetings, etc.


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.


End of week community check in to share your successes and challenges, get moral support, and have a beer.


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 in the Biotech, Transportation Tech, Agtech, IoT, and Creative Technology sectors.
  • You are early stage, defined as being pre-Series A funded, and you have been operating on seed funding, self-funding, friends-and-family funding, or crowdfunding sources.
  • You and your cofounders are ready to dedicate three to 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, and are willing to share your lessons learned with your peers.
  • Your startup is incorporated, but pre-revenue or just entering revenue generation (depending on the sector)

Startup Sandbox or Santa Cruz Accelerates?

Santa Cruz Accelerates partners with the Startup Sandbox, an incubator dedicated to helping innovators move from ideation to product. See which one is right for you.

  Startup Sandbox Santa Cruz Accelerates
Product Idea stage or in development Has Proof of Concept or Prototype
Company Incorporated or unincorporated Incorporated before enrollment
Curriculum Focus on Product Development Focus on customer and business development
Services   Space, EIR, mentors, networking
Out of Pocket Fees for Services Rent No fee
Equity Investment None 2%

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. Apply here.