OtherA Talk with TechStars’ David Cohen about the Nike+ Accelerator

Earlier this winter, Nike and TechStars announced the formation of the new Nike+ Accelerator, powered by TechStars, and invited entrepreneurs and innovators interested in creating offerings that inspire people to live more active, healthy lifestyles to apply to the new accelerator program. TechStars will soon select 10 companies to begin the intensive, 13-week residency, which includes mentoring from both Nike executives and experts from across the entrepreneurial community.

We reached out to David Cohen, Founder & CEO of TechStars, and Dylan Boyd, the Managing Director of the Nike+ Accelerator, powered by TechStars, to find out a little more about what’s happening with the newest accelerator on the block!

Q: How did TechStars come to partner with Nike? Have you done this kind of model before within companies?
A: We have done this with companies like Microsoft, Kaplan and others. You can read about it on our website. Nike and TechStars first started discussing this about 9 months ago, and the relationship grew from there.

Q: What’s the process & timeline for the accelerator? How many companies will you initially recruit?
A: The process and timeline are online at http://www.nikeaccelerator.com. Companies apply online (the application period has ended at this point for the first program, future programs TBA). We filter those down to a set of finalists, and then spend more time in diligence with those companies. Then we select 10. They move to Portland for the 3-month program. We are close to selecting those 10 as of today.

Q: What happens when they’re accepted?
A: The program lasts 3 months, and is modeled after the TechStars program. First month is mentor dating – getting lots of feedback on ideas and building network/relationships. 2nd month is getting the product to market while working closely with a smaller set of lead mentors. 3rd month is generally about the investor pitch and go to market strategy. Demo day is at the end where we expect 500+ investors to come see the companies. The same program as any TechStars program elsewhere, just focused on digital sport/quantified self/athletics with heavy help from Nike mentors as well as TechStars mentors.

Q: Where will the accelerator be located and how long will the participating companies be in residence?
A: It’s a 13-week program in Portland’s Pearl district.

Q: Can you tell us about the vision for the accelerator (for example, would the companies that are involved have the opportunity to grow beyond Nike?)?
A: Sure, we’re funding great companies that will make an impact in the world. Remember that TechStars is their investor (Nike has no rights/control of the company in any way), so we’re here to fund viable, long term sustainable businesses. Nike is contributing mentors and hands on help to give the company a great start.

Q: What kinds of mentors & advisors with you be seeking and how can interested experts get involved?
Again, the mentors are all listed on the web site. If someone has deep experience and wants to get involved as a mentor, they should contact us via our web site (www.techstars.com).

Q: What kind of companies / sectors would you encourage to apply?
Anyone with an idea that uses Nike+ technology and data to help people be more active. Examples include:

  • Training or coaching platforms to help athletes* reach their goals (remember, “If you have a body, you’re an athlete”)
  • Games using the Nike+ FuelBand and NikeFuel to remind people that movement is supposed to be fun
  • Tools to motivate millions of Nike+ runners to perform better or train smarter
  • Programs built around achievement and rewards for activity
  • Wellness solutions that promote active, healthy lifestyles
  • Social challenges that deliver motivation and challenges with friends
  • Master dashboards for the ultimate quantified self geeks

Q: Anything else you want to share with OEN?
A: Just that TechStars is excited to be part of the Portland startup community!

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