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Santa Cruz is becoming one of the best places to build a startup, but most of the early-stage entrepreneurs we speak to aren't aware of the local tech resources that are available to help them.

With applications for the Santa Cruz Founder Institute now open, we're excited to release the Santa Cruz Startup Resource Guide, which is currently in Draft v1 below! It was developed by the Santa Cruz Founder Institute and local leaders: Kirill Satanovsky and Pete Biggam.

This is just a draft, and while we spent many hours on this research, more input is needed. Please leave your comments on this collaborative Google document to help us complete the list. There are definitely omissions on this current version. 

Are you looking to build a startup in Santa Cruz? Then apply to the Santa Cruz Founder Institute today!

Text version included below, for ease of searching:

Startup Stages

There is no one right way to build a technology company, but for the sake of simplicity we have outlined a basic, common, sequential framework.

1. Idea Stage

This is where new entrepreneurs get inspired, learn best practices, develop skills, validate ideas, and begin to build their team and product.

A. Inspire

  • Santa Cruz Startup Media: Centralized local information, listings, and news. (i.e. startup blogs/ publications/ lists/ FB groups/ newsletters)
    1. Santa Cruz Tech Beat
    2. Santa Cruz Waves
    3. Santa Cruz Works News
    4. Startup Sandbox News
  • Inspirational Santa Cruz Startup Events: Open, inclusive startup events that often focus on ideation. (i.e. Startup Weekend, idea fairs, and inspirational meetups)
    1. Santa Cruz County Business Expo
    2. Startup Weekend Santa Cruz

B. Educate

  • Best Practices: Beginner knowledge-sharing tech events. (i.e. beginner events that serve to educate more than inspire).
    1. CEO Works Solopreneurs
    2. IP Society
    3. Santa Cruz Bitcoin & Cryptocurrency Meetup
    4. Santa Cruz New Tech MeetUp
    5. Santa Cruz Startup Founder 101
    6. Santa Cruz WordPress Users Group
    7. Startup Grind
    8. Watsonville Video Meetup
  • Training & Feedback: Skill & Idea development events and startup bootcamps for entrepeneurs. (Includes comprehensive training programs, like Founder Institute, General Assembly, Lean Startup Machine, code camps, etc)
    1. Cabrillo College Fab Lab
    2. Founder Institute
    3. Idea Fab Lab
    4. Lean Startup Machine
    5. Santa Cruz Data Science and Analytics MeetUp
    6. Santa Cruz PyLadies
    7. Santa Cruz Python Meetup
    8. Santa Cruz Startup School Lecture Group
    9. Santa Cruz Strategic Consulting Startup Bootcamp
    10. Santa Cruz Tech Public Relations
    11. Santa Cruz Unity User Group
    12. Santa Cruz Works
    13. SCORE Central Coast
    14. UCSC Startup Development Group
    15. UCSC Startup Entrepreneurship Academy

C. Validate

  • Team Formation: Events for Finding Co-founders in Santa Cruz.  (i.e. tech networking events or other resources that facilitate early-stage recruitment and cofounder matching)
    1. CoFoundersLab
    2. Coworking and NextTalks in Santa Cruz
    3. Santa Cruz New Tech Meetup
    4. Santa Cruz Solopreneurs Meetup
    5. Women's Small Biz Support & Networking
    6. Zerocog
  • Build First Product: Hackathons & product events in Santa Cruz.
    1. Cabrillo Makerspace
    2. Cruz XR
    3. CruzHacks 2021
    4. OpenLab
    5. Santa Cruz Coders
    6. Santa Cruz JavaScript

2. Launch Stage

In this stage, entrepreneurs establish and formalize the company, develop the product, get feedback from customers, and prepare for the next step.

A. Start

  • Establish: Santa Cruz law firms & banks for startups
    1. 1st Capital Bank
    2. Bank of America
    3. Bank of the West
    4. Bay Federal
    5. Book & Book LLP
    6. Chase Bank
    7. Citi
    8. Comerica Bank
    9. Ian Stock Law
    10. Law Office of Carmela J. Woll
    11. Levini Law
    12. SAC Attorneys LLP
    13. Santa Cruz Community Credit Union
    14. Santa Cruz County Bank
    15. Soquel Group
    16. US Bank
    17. Wells Fargo
  • Santa Cruz Workspaces: Co-working and flexible workspaces for startups in Santa Cruz.
    1. Cruzioworks Coworking
    2. NextSpace Coworking Santa Cruz
    3. The Satellite Santa Cruz

B. Develop

  • Formalize: Santa Cruz accounting, development and HR tools for early-stage startups.  
    1. Brooktown Design
    2. Chiorini, Hunt & Jacobs
    3. Cloud Brigade
    4. Coast Financial Services
    5. CodeStringers
    6. Concept Squared
    7. Francine Tyler CPA
    8. Iversen Design
    9. Kelly Services
    10. Launch Brigade
    11. Patricia A. Beckwith CPA
    12. Santa Cruz Pacific Accounting and Tax
    13. Santa Cruz Staffing
    14. Santa Cruz Web Design
    16. Studio Holladay
    17. Wavestaff
    18. Yappert Accounting & Consulting
  • Santa Cruz Incubators: Groups that prepare companies for seed investment and provide advanced mentorship. (i.e. advanced knowledge sharing, later stage events and resources)
    1. CITRIS Foundry Incubator
    2. IDEA Hub
    3. QB3
    4. Startup Sandbox
    5. SVLink

C. Launch

  • Santa Cruz Seed Accelerators: Seed funding mentor programs (Techstars-style programs that provide funding)
    1. Santa Cruz Works Business Accelerator
    3. UCSC Launchpad
  • Pitch & Demo Events: Tech events that showcase Santa Cruz startups for investment.
    1. 2021 IDEA Hub Pitch Contest
    2. QB3 Pitch Summit
    3. Startup Challenge Monterrey Bay
    4. Startup Investment and Community Capital Expo
    5. TechRaising

3. Growth Stage

Here, a startup proves their utility, receives recognition, and scales up. This usually requires funding, angels, VCs, and ways to connect them to startups.

A. Recognition

  • Santa Cruz Investor Networking:  Events and groups that connect professional investors with founders.
    1. Angel Investment Network
    2. Angels by the Sea
    3. Central Coast Angels
    4. Founders Forum
    5. Santa Cruz Angel Investing Meetup
    6. Seabright Companies
  • Major Media: Mainstream local business press that often showcase local startups.
    1. Lookout Local Santa Cruz
    2. Patch
    3. Santa Cruz Sentinel

B. Funding

  • Santa Cruz Angel Investors: Seed-stage investors and micro-vcs.
    1. Andrew Van Valer
    2. Howard Chao
    3. James H Hogan
    4. Jeremy Almond
    5. Kitt Caffall
    6. Marc Randolph
    7. Mark Mitchell
  • Santa Cruz Venture Capitalists: Series A and beyond
    1. L37
    2. Natural Bridges Ventures
    3. South Swell Ventures
    4. SpringHill Equity Partners

C. Growth

  • Infrastructure: Office space, HR, local business insurance. (i.e. office space/ HR/ insurance providers for capital-rich companies to grow and scale)
    1. 42Floors
    2. Cityfeet
    3. Clarion Pacific Insurance
    4. Farmers Insurance
    5. Intellenet
    6. LoopNet
    7. Nationwide
    8. OfficeSpace
    9. Paul Nelson Insurance Services
    10. PropertyShark
    11. Shockley Insurance Solutions
    12. State Farm 
  • Expansion: Santa Cruz Growth accelerators and consultants. (i.e. programs and business consultants for capital-rich companies to grow and scale)
    1. Catalyst Consulting
    2. Eliassen Group
    3. Santa Cruz Strategic Consulting

4. Santa Cruz Startup Success Stories

Successful homegrown companies that have raised significant institutional funding, employ a large workforce, or have achieved liquidity.

  1. 2ndNature
  2. Benevolently
  3. Cerego
  4. Cruz Foam
  5. Cruzio Internet
  6. DagM8
  7. Edge Mobile Payments
  8. Emboline
  9. FileOpen
  10. Fullpower Technologies
  11. GraphOn
  12. Joby Aviation
  13. Lookback
  14. Looker
  15. MakerDAO
  16. Parallel Flight Technologies
  17. Paystand
  18. Poly
  19. Recombinant
  20. SellHound
  21. SupplyShift
  22. Tuul
  23. Unnatural Products


To facilitate the steps, every ecosystem needs strong supporters.

1. Santa Cruz Startup Leaders

Successful local founders who lead the ecosystem & frequently mentor newbies.

  1. Chris Benner
  2. Doug Erickson
  3. Geoffrey Dillon
  4. Helen Pastorino
  5. Kirill Satanovsky
  6. Lou Pambianco
  7. Matthew Swinnerton
  8. Nathan Westrup
  9. Peggy Dolgenos
  10. Pete Biggam
  11. Sara Isenberg
  12. Suzanne Wouk

2. Santa Cruz Government Startup Resources

Public organizations that facilitate local economic development

  1. City of Santa Cruz Economic Development
  2. Santa Cruz County Business Council
  3. Santa Cruz County Chamber of Commerce
  4. Santa Cruz Economic Development
  5. Santa Cruz SBDC

3. Talent

Major local business or tech universities and employers that attract and retain local talent.

  • Local Santa Cruz Tech Universities (universities with prominent technical or business programs)
    1. Cabrillo College
    2. University of California Santa Cruz
  • Santa Cruz Tech Employers
    1. Amazon
    2. Looker
    3. Seagate
    4. Verisign


*  *  *

Learn more about the Startup Ecosystem Canvas here, and leave us your thoughts on the Santa Cruz Canvas on this collaborative Google document (This is just a draft, and more input is needed!)

Are you looking to build a startup in Santa Cruz? Then apply to the Santa Cruz Founder Institute today

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