Santa Cruz Accelerates

What is Santa Cruz Accelerates?

Santa Cruz Accelerates is a small, scrappy technology accelerator that aims to support early-stage startups in Santa Cruz County to scale and grow, and attract funding. 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 Technologies startups. We are launching our first cohort of companies in Spring 2017 - so if you are a startup entrepreneur and want to build your business in Santa Cruz, keep reading!

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 and attracting investment. 
  • We help founders fine tune their pitch and prepare for pitch events.
  • We help founders find funding and build sector verticals that can lead to traction and investment in your company. 
  • 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 a minimum of three months, with options to continue in the program. You receive $10,000 in seed money and $20,000 in services: you co-locate rent-free (until significant revenue generation or 6 months, whichever comes first), and benefit from working closely with in-house staff, Entrepreneurs-in-Residence, and select mentors to build your startup and refine your pitch. You also receive one year of complimentary membership to Santa Cruz Works, which gives you free access to all SCW workshops and events. In exchange for all of this, you give just 2% equity in your company (more details available) in the form of a convertible note.


We help you generate or refine 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 gaining traction, and also work hard to connect you to traditional and nontraditional funding sources.

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. 

An Entrepreneur in Residence

An Entrepreneur in Residence 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.


Weekly pitch session, with your cohort and invited guests there to give you feedback. End of week community check-in to share your successes and challenges, get moral support, and have a beer.

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 no funding, seed funding, self-funding, friends-and-family funding, or crowdfunding sources.
  • You and your cofounders are ready to dedicate at least 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. If you are not yet incorporated, apply anyway.)

Apply to Santa Cruz Accelerates

Everyone is welcome!  Apply here by March 15 to start in June 2017. 


Supported by University of California, Santa Cruz