The Inspiring Enterprise Pilot Accelerator

Harnessing the expertise of local professionals, consultants, and mentors to launch great ideas focused on housing, water management, homelessness, and sustainability into viable businesses.

The 2015 Pilot Accelerator program will work with just two Santa Cruz startups in a 3-month intensive curriculum consisting of classrooms, workshops, and community events that will launch inspiring ideas into the marketplace. We offer free office space and services like website development, legal services, and accounting support. Our events connect startups to leaders in the tech community, public sector, and University, engaging a diverse community to ensure the startup’s success.

Read about the two startups selected for the 2015 pilot program in the Sentinel.

Program Dates: September 21 – December 16

Want to see what our program participants have been up to? Join us on Wednesday, December 16th for Good Seeds: Accelerator Graduation at the Museum of Art and History in Downtown Santa Cruz. More information here!

Our goal is to launch two innovative startups, build a robust network of mentors, professionals, and consultants, and prove our concept. Once we’ve done that, we will begin working to launch our full, 10-month curriculum in Fall 2016.

Sector Focus

We carefully selected four sectors that are not only important to Santa Cruz residents, but are also issues many organizations are working hard to solve. These issues are homelessness, water management, sustainability, and housing. Each startup will work with sector experts to define their goals, metrics, and sustainability plan. Services offered will include product development, market research, communications strategy, and business and financial planning. The 2015 Accelerator Fellows will be automatically entered into Cruz Cares 2016 on March 2, 2016.

The Inspiring Enterprise will prioritize applications in the following sectors:

Homelessness – Workforce development, mental health services, community support, etc.

Water Management – Advocacy, technology, systems, etc.

Sustainability – Solar, conservation, transportation, food systems, etc.

Housing – Affordability for students, elderly, and low-income residents, etc.

Why The Inspiring Enterprise?

  1. Be part of a community: The Inspiring Enterprise is the Santa Cruz hub for social entrepreneurship. Our network of community leaders, financiers, and industry experts is a team of committed individuals who want to see business as a force for social change.
  2. Work with regional leadership: Our executive mentor team includes Ed Durkee, CEO Goodwill Central Coast, Doug Erickson, VP of International Business Development Nanigans, David Foster, Executive Director Habitat for Humanity, and Keri Waters, CEO Calliope.
  3. Benefit from a dynamic team of professionals: Work with our team of professionals including Sara Swenson Director of Product Management Vivo Technologies, Jordan Iverson CEO Iversen Design, and Steven Cunningham CEO Metastyle Films.
  4. Receive free office space: Work for free at Cruzio Internet in downtown Santa Cruz.
  5. Gain visibility: Over the course of the 3-month curriculum your startup will attend two community events and will be entered to participate in Cruz Cares 2016. The Inspiring Enterprise has partnered with City of Santa Cruz Economic Development, Small Business Development Center, Chamber of Commerce, and Santa Cruz County Business Council to put your startup in the spotlight.

Our Measureable Results

  • Received 40+ applications in the first-ever startup pitch contest for social ventures including workforce development, community health, sustainable agriculture, and civic engagement projects
  • Gave away $21,000 in cash and prizes to three innovative social ventures at Cruz Cares 2015
  • Launched new initiatives at local nonprofits: Rising International, Housing First, and Senior Housing Partnership through Cruz Cares 2015
  • Hosted four workshops on homelessness, water management, sustainability, and housing


Questions? Email Janneke at

 Thank you to our sponsors!