Nike, Inc. Announces Accelerator Program to Drive Digital Sport Innovation

From Fuelband to fueling innovation, Nike is lending its insights, resources, and visibility to startups showing promise in the Digital Sports space. Having had first hand experience in this space (as a Y Combinator alum), the details here are interesting. Nike has partnered with established startup accelerator TechStars to handle the mechanics of the relationships. TechStars will get equity in the companies (their standard 6% in exchange for $20K in capital) while Nike “will support the Nike+ Accelerator with facilities, mentors, visibility and pro-active engagement around business opportunities that emerge from this program.” Reading between the lines, Nike is likely funding the initial capital investments in exchange for building allegiance with these companies. Since no equity or other promises are being made, Nike maintains a nice distance while positioning itself to reap future benefits. 

Smart play. Partnering with (and likely funding) the existing accelerator program is the key. Also, they’ve used their clout to attract a who’s who of program mentors. Let’s watch and see what companies they find and how it all turns out. 

via Press Release

The program leverages the success of the Nike+ platform by connecting with companies that share a commitment to helping people live more active lives.

Today NIKE, Inc. announced its first Nike+ Accelerator program, which will host 10 companies for a three-month immersive, mentor-driven startup accelerator powered by TechStars. The program aims to leverage the success of the Nike+ platform to support digital innovation by connecting with companies that share Nike’s commitment to help people live more active lives. The Nike+ Accelerator will accept applications from companies aiming to use Nike+ technology to create products and services that will inspire athletes across a broad range of activity and health goals including training, coaching, gaming, data visualization and quantified self.

The Nike+ Accelerator begins in March 2013 and will run through June, culminating in technology investor demonstration days including a day at Nike World Headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon, and a day in California’s Silicon Valley.

The Nike+ Accelerator will be based in Portland, Oregon, near Nike World Headquarters. Once the companies have been selected, Nike will provide development tools, office facilities, technical platforms and support to create solutions leveraging the Nike+ Application Program Interface (API) and Nike+ mobile Software Development Kit.

Nike will also support the companies by providing access to a select list of Nike executives and external mentors. Mentors include Stefan Olander, Nike’s Vice President of Digital Sport; David Cohen, founder and CEO of TechStars; Naveen Selvadurai, co-founder of Foursquare; and quantified-self guru Tim Ferriss. The mentors will engage directly with participating companies during the Nike+ Accelerator. TechStars will facilitate the program, having successfully completed over 15 accelerator programs using their mentor-driven, deep immersion, three-month model. TechStars’ mentoring model has attracted more than $275 million worth of venture capital for the companies that have participated in past programs over the last six years of operation.

Visit for details and applications. The application deadline is February 3, 2013. Selected companies will be contacted by the end of February, and the program will begin in mid-March.

About Marty Wetherall