Santa Cruz Accelerates Program

Santa Cruz Works Accelerates, rooted in Santa Cruz Works' 15-year legacy, has championed entrepreneurship in Santa Cruz and Monterey counties. Since its 2015 inception, they've mentored 52 startups across 5 cohorts, with 70% achieving liquidity events. Their success stems from a unique collaboration with local institutions and powerhouses like the City of Santa Cruz Economic Development, UCSC, Looker Google, and Joby Aviation, among 100+ partners. The accelerator's zero-dilution policy stands out, ensuring startups retain ownership. Participants benefit from a vast network of 50+ mentors and VCs, coupled with over $1M in perks ranging from software discounts to local amenities. It's a hub for startups desiring a nurturing and resourceful environment.

Program Advantages

This is not our first launch. Santa Cruz Works has been the backbone of the tech community since 2007. We launched our first Accelerates program in 2015. Since then, 10 startups completed our program over 4 cohorts. And get this...7 startups had liquidity events! This stunning success is due to the trust and support provided by our local partners.

  • Established: 15 years of supporting entrepreneurship in Santa Cruz and Monterey counties.

  • Experienced: 5 cohorts, with several startups successfully attaining liquidity events.

  • Community-backed: Santa Cruz Accelerates is the only accelerator backed by the City of Santa Cruz Economic Development, Santa Cruz County Business Council, UCSC, Cabrillo College, Looker Google, Joby Aviation, +100 companies & organizations

  • Zero dilution: “Others” take 6% of your company. Don’t give up your company.

  • Mentors and VCs: Get help and assistance from 50+ Mentors and VCs including Bill Richter Law, Patrick Reilly IP Society, Studio Holladay, Central Coast Angels, and several more mentors and VCs.

  • Over $1M in Perks: From 90% off of Hubspot, 6 months free of Zendesk, $10,000 of AWS credits, discounts at your favorite local restaurants, co-working subsidies, and so much more.

2024 Program

We will announce the 6th cohort of the Santa Cruz Works Accelerates accelerator in early 2024. Stay tuned!

5th Cohort (closed)

June 2023 - We are excited to announce our 5th cohort of the Santa Cruz Accelerates! 12 startups have been admitted into the 5th cohort. This is a self-paced online program for seed stage startups to take their startups to the next level. We want to help you build better products for customers and get your startup ready for investors. Through the Santa Cruz Accelerates Program, founders will have access to a robust content, local mentors and resources, as well as $1M+ in perks. If your startup is ready for takeoff, you’ll want to be a part of our program!

Santa Cruz Works has partnered with Startup Space, Startup Science, and Innovation Within to provide the rocket fuel you need to reach orbit. Here is your flight plan.

Flight Plan 2023

When you are accepted into our accelerator program, you will gain access to a whole array of resources. Here is what you need to know:

  • Systems check: Make sure you meet the requirements to participate in the program. See Ticket to Ride section below.

  • Countdown: Every founder thinks their idea will turn into the BEST product in the world until they realize no one else actually wants it. Founders will go through Discovery to test and validate their ideas before wasting valuable time or money. Through SCA, founders will have access to Innovation Within’s online Lean Startup (market validation) platform which was developed in collaboration with Steve Blank and Lean Startup. All startups planning to apply for an NSF grant at any time in the future will be required to complete this course.

  • Ignition: Follow the online course curriculum on Startup Science and complete at least 80% of the courses by August 16 to be eligible for participating in the pitch competition. Startups will also be invited to weekly meetings to share progress updates, ask questions, learn and connect with one another, and practice their pitches.

  • Launch: Interview customers, meet with mentors, establish your core team, company legal status, IP, MVP, perfect your pitch, secure funding, and much more. If you have already completed some segments such as corporate entity, blast on through to the segments which are of most value to you and your team.

  • Orbit: Startups that pass through countdown, ignition, and launch stages are now ready for orbit! Pitch to investors and go after funding. Santa Cruz Works will invite the top 5 startups to participate in the in person pitch competition on Sept 13, 2023 where they will be evaluated by judges and compete for seed capital.

  • Take off: You’re ready for exit or to continue growing your startup into a global business!

Ticket to Ride

So what do you need to get started? If you are a technology entrepreneur with a beta or better product, have a team, and at least 5 pilots or customers in your pipeline, you are now in seed stage and ready to WOW angels and investors to take your rocket into orbit. Climate, environment, sustainability, and clean technology are the main industries we are looking to target, however, we are open to founders and startups with products and solutions that will make the world a better place.

Once you are accepted, you will need to pay a fee of $250 to participate. This fee helps us to provide you access to the accelerator courses, accelerator platforms, AND grants you a special SCW membership which will provide you with a unique discount code to attend our events. PLUS you will have access to over $1M in benefits such as AWS credits, Zapier, Hubspot, etc. Applications for our 5th cohort closed on April 30, 2023.

Make a Difference, Become a Mentor!

We are constantly looking for more mentors to join our network. Mentors guide startups on everything from pitching, legal issues, engineering, sales & business development, valuation, and funding. Got some mad skills or a course or workshop that you would like to share with young startups? We want you! Mentors are essential to our program for the valuable expertise and connections they offer. Mentoring is a rewarding experience and allows you to discover and connect with cutting edge startups, solutions, and innovators. There is no set time or duty obligation. You get to meet with mentees according to your schedule, interests, and preferences. Use the button below to sign up to be a mentor and guide these founders for takeoff!

  • Check out some of our past successful launches here.

  • Startups who have their ticket to ride (see above) have the minimum requirements to participate in the program. From there, we have a panel of judges who selects the founders, and startups whose product is well thought out, have demonstrated growth progress, and whose product will make the world a better place.

  • We are based in Santa Cruz County but the course and resources can be accessed online from anywhere in the world. Startups who have participated in the past typically are based in the Santa Cruz County and Central Coast region. Anyone can participate in the program, however, if you plan to enter the pitch contest, you or a representative must present your pitch to judges in person in Santa Cruz County.

  • Our 2023 cohort begins April 5th and runs through August 2nd. Founders can apply from April 5-April 30th. Applications will be reviewed during May 1-5th. Founders will be notified the second week of May to let them know if they have been accepted into the program. The program is designed to be completed in 6-10 weeks. All courses must be completed by July 12 to be eligible to compete in the pitch competition. The program concludes with a pitch competition which will take place on August 2nd.

  • After submitting your application, you will receive an automatic email confirming receipt of your application. Applications will be reviewed during May 1-6. If you are accepted, you will receive a welcome email with further information during the week of May 8th.

  • Our goal for the program is for the startups to be investable. If your startup is making good progress and ready for investment, then we expect to connect you with investors.