'Santa Cruz Accelerates' Incubator Chooses Five Tech Startups

The business incubator will provide mentors, networking and workshops during a six-month program for the startups.

by Jondi Gumz, Santa Cruz Sentinel, Calif. / June 14, 2017
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(TNS) -- SANTA CRUZ -- Four tech startups with UC Santa Cruz connections and an augmented reality venture have been chosen for the inaugural group supported by Santa Cruz Accelerates, a new organization to help early-stage entrepreneurs.

The startups will get a six-month boot camp experience in office space on the Westside with mentors, networking and workshops. Santa Cruz Accelerates will provide each startup with $10,000 in seed money in exchange for a 2 percent equity stake granted to Santa Cruz Works, the nonprofit running the accelerator.

The selected startups are:

Fuzz Stati0n, which helps find programming errors with a cloud-based automated security procedure, was founded in 2016 by UCSC alumnus David Moore with help from Joe Carlos, a UCSC software engineer intern. The company was the winner in the Firestarter category of the Tech Trailblazers’ global competition.

Scoot Science, which uses autonomous underwater vehicles to gather ocean data, was co-founded by UCSC ocean science grads Jonathan LaRiviere and Evan Goodwin. The startup made it to the finals of the 2016 Startup Challenge Monterey Bay.

Cruz Foam, co-founded by Marco Rolandi, associate professor of electrical engineering at UCSC, and doctoral candidate John Felts, aims to turn shrimp shells into surfboards. They were at May’s Santa Cruz New Tech MeetUp, looking to raise $250,000 to build a prototype surfboard from this material.

• Santa Cruz Wave Works, which collects raw data on wave energy to provide useful information to surfers, was founded by UCSC student John Tauriac.

PhotoBloomAR, founded by Justin Lemus of San Jose, uses augmented reality to make photos come alive with video and sound. The startup presented to the Santa Cruz New Tech MeetUp in March.

Fuzz Stati0n, Santa Cruz Wave Works, Scott Science and PhotoBloomAR are diving in this month; Cruz Foam will join the group in September.

All of them will be invited to speak at the Santa Cruz New Tech MeetUp at 6 p.m. Aug. 1 at Hotel Paradox, 611 Ocean St., according to meetup organizer Doug Erickson.

Heather Putnam, executive director of Santa Cruz Works, developed a curriculum using the “Lean Business Model Canvas,” in which participants generate value propositions — why people should buy their product or service — and test them with potential customers.

She’s recruiting mentors in Santa Cruz County and in Silicon Valley.

UCSC will provide $500,000 for the accelerator program, which focuses on tech startups that have a product but haven’t started selling it.

Mohamed Abousalem, UCSC’s assistant vice chancellor for research, industry alliances and technology commercialization, expects the accelerator will generate economic development in the community.

Moore, the Fuzz Stati0n founder, said he was “stoked” to be chosen. Moore got his bachelor’s degree in computational mathematics at UCSC in 1991 and worked at Next and WebLogic.

©2017 the Santa Cruz Sentinel (Scotts Valley, Calif.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.