Nike + TechStars: Another Licensing Deal for Top Startup Accelerator
TechStars, the top-tier startup accelerator program with branches across the country, is finding a bigger corporate appetite for its three-month startup “bootcamp” sessions.
Nike has announced that it will partner with Boulder, CO-based TechStars for a version of the accelerator focused on using the sports apparel company’s Nike+ technology, which incorporates sensors and software to analyze athletic performance.
The program will be in Portland, OR—Nike is headquartered in nearby Beaverton—and run from March through June. The Nike+ Accelerator says it will select 10 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.”
“I’m an avid marathoner and completely obsessed with the idea of instrumenting myself to track extensive data about my health and fitness,” TechStars co-founder Brad Feld wrote in a blog post. “I also believe that the best way to accelerate core technologies like what Nike has worked on is to build significant startup communities around their core products and technologies.”
This is the third time that TechStars has licensed its accelerator program to an outside company, following two Microsoft-related accelerators in Seattle—one focused on the Kinect motion sensor, and another revolving around the company’s Azure cloud computing services.
The setup of the Nike+ Accelerator looks almost identical to those Microsoft versions, with TechStars getting 6 percent of equity in exchange for a $20,000 investment. Nike does not take any equity position or retain any intellectual property interest in the selected startups.
It’s easy to see why these big companies are interested in outsourcing developer and startup outreach to TechStars. The program, which has branches in Boston, Seattle, New York, and Boulder, and a cloud-computing focused version in San Antonio, TX, has risen to prominence amid an explosion of seed-stage startup financing and accelerator or incubator programs nationally. TechStars boasts of more than $275 million in total venture investment for its alumni.
These deals help increase the overall size of the startup pool TechStars can invest in, while broadening the program’s reach nationally with financial support from corporate partners.
TechStars and Nike say the mentors available to help the selected teams during their three-month stay will include Nike vice president Stefan Olander, TechStars co-founder and CEO David Cohen, and author Tim Ferriss. Applications are due in early February, with the program slated to begin in mid-March.
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