Santa Cruz Tech Beat


Social Accelerator Launches 3-month Pilot for Startups

By Janneke Lang
The Inspiring Enterprise

September 3, 2015 — Santa Cruz, CA

“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.”

On September 23, 2015, Santa Cruz’s first social accelerator will launch a 3-month pilot program for startups focused on critical social and environmental issues in Santa Cruz County. The Inspiring Enterprise is launching its program and curriculum in the wake of the successful Cruz Cares Pitch Contest held in March 2015. The accelerator’s model will use Lean Startup Methodology, collaborative mentorship, and community support to launch competitive and scalable social enterprises.

Over the course of the 3-month program, participating startups aka “Fellows” will attend weekly classrooms led by subject matter experts covering topics from accounting, to branding, to pitch practice. In addition to the classrooms, each Fellow will be paired with two consultants who provide one-on-one mentorship. Classes and events will be held at the Cruzioworks co-working space.


Sixteen mentors are participating in the pilot accelerator program and include Ed Durkee, CEO, Central Coast Goodwill; David Doolin, Partner, PP&Co; David Dennis, Co-founder Ventana Surfboards; Susan Wishon, Development Consultant; Jordan Iversen, CEO, Iversen Design; Steven Cassingham, Founder, Metastyle Films; and Doug Erickson, Vice President International Business Development, Nanigans.

The first two Fellows accepted into the pilot accelerator program are Valéria Miranda with Food for Change and Ned LeBlond with EquityStone. Each are pursuing solutions for issues the community deeply cares about: housing and homelessness.

Valéria Miranda, with in MBA in Sustainable Management, is creating a food truck business designed to offer healthy, reasonably priced meals and provide transitional employment for men and women returning to our community after incarceration.

“As social entrepreneurs we believe in the power of conscious business tools to effect change and it’s a job where one cannot go at it alone: collaboration and support from experienced entrepreneurs are key!” says Miranda, speaking about her participation in The Inspiring Enterprise accelerator program.

Ned LeBlond, also with an MBA in Sustainable Management, is creating a nonprofit organization that generates local wealth is creating a nonprofit organization aimed at helping struggling homeowners rent to lower income tenants through an online marketplace with built in accountability mechanisms.

LeBlond says, “The Inspiring Enterprise’s Accelerator Program is exactly what I was looking for to launch EquityStone here in Santa Cruz County. They’re providing a venue for me to build business networks, establish realistic goals founded in objective metrics, and gain the resources to make the most of my time.”

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