Back in December, Nike unveiled the Nike+ Accelerator program, powered by TechStars. After going through hundreds of applications, TechStars and Nike selected ten finalists. They will now begin a three-month program and take advantage of the Nike+ API and SDK to develop and release new companion products for the Nike FuelBand or Sportswatch.
The teams will relocate to Portland — next to Nike’s headquarters — where they will exchange ideas and information with mentors, such as Nike’s Vice President of Digital Sport Stefan Olander, founder and CEO of TechStars David Cohen and co-founder of Foursquare Naveen Selvadurai. By being selected, finalists received $20,000 of funding.
Here’s the full list of finalists:
- FitDeck: Digital decks of exercise playing cards that deliver ever-changing workouts for fitness and sports.
- GoRecess: Helps users find, book and review fitness activities.
- Chroma.io: An indie game studio that creates virtual worlds tied to real-world activity.
- CoachBase: Provides a digital sports coaching platform.
- GoFitCause: Leverages fitness data as a means of raising money for charities.
- HighFive: Ad network for health and fitness apps that helps people achieve their goals by rewarding them along their journey.
- Sprout At Work: Provider of corporate wellness solutions leveraging social and gamification tools to inspire employees and empower employers.
- GeoPalz: An interactive gaming and rewards platform for kids and families.
- Incomparable Things: Creates activity-driven fantasy sports leagues.
- RecBob: Offers a platform that makes recreational sports easy by organizing play.
When it comes to creating an accelerator program, there are three key advantages for Nike. Even though the details of the deal with TechStars are unknown, the program is a cheap way to imagine and develop new use cases for the Nike+ product line. Instead of paying 20 to 40 engineers for three months, Nike chose to create an incubator and give $20,000 to each team. It is clearly not a money-losing venture. Nike could even hire some of the participants at the end of the process, without having to hunt for those engineers.
Second, Nike counts on a long tail effect. If one or two teams make an incredibly successful product, it will entice developers around the world to develop for the Nike+ platform. Success stories are a powerful communication tool among developers.
Finally, fostering entrepreneurship is a trendy thing to do. It makes Nike look like an innovative company, not afraid of encouraging new ideas and up-and-coming companies. Entrepreneurship could become a brand attribute to differentiate the company from its competitors, which could drive sales.
TechStars gains a bit of mainstream recognition and press coverage by partnering with Nike. It is a well-known incubator that knows how to create and organize an accelerator program. The Nike+ Accelerator represents a new revenue stream for TechStars as well.
What’s next for the finalists? They are now working hard on their ideas and will pitch investors, journalists and Nike executives during the demo day in June. It will be interesting to see what comes out of the first batch of finalists of the Nike+ Accelerator program.