February 14, 2014
The Walt Disney Company has announced a partnership with Techstars to launch an accelerator program that will help 10 startups get off the ground, while potentially providing the media giant insight into new innovation and creativity. Disney Accelerator plans to invest $120,000 in each startup, and provide them with the opportunity to work with Disney for three months starting in June (the application deadline is April 16). At the end of the program, Disney and Techstars may take a stake in one or more of the startups.
New York-based Techstars pairs entrepreneurs with established executives, mentors, and advisors. The group currently has seven locations in London and the U.S. and has launched accelerator programs with companies such as Barclays, Kaplan, Microsoft, Nike, R/GA and Sprint.
“Disney Accelerator is a highly selective, immersive mentorship and seed-stage investment program for technology-enabled startups in the media and entertainment space,” notes the Disney Accelerator site. “Ten startup companies will be selected to gather in the Los Angeles area for three months to incubate their ideas and build new consumer media and entertainment products.”
In addition to investment capital to develop ideas, the startups will receive “mentor support from top Disney executives, including Chairman and CEO Robert A. Iger, and leaders from Pixar, Marvel, Lucasfilm, ESPN and Walt Disney Imagineering, among others,” according to the Techstars Blog.
“We are an innovative and forward-thinking company, but there is also real value in being friendly to outside ideas,” said Kevin Mayer, Disney’s EVP for corporate strategy and business development. “We want Disney Accelerator to be a part of how we profitably and defensibly grow our business.”
“Mentoring for startups — either through Techstars or competitors like Y Combinator — has become popular at a wide range of companies outside of Silicon Valley,” reports The New York Times. “Examples of successful companies that have sprung from accelerators include Dropbox, the file-storage service, and Airbnb, which lets travelers rent accommodations in private residences.”