The Walt Disney Company is getting into the startup incubator/accelerator business with its launch of its new program Disney Accelerator. The media giant is looking for ten “early-stage companies with innovative consumer media and entertainment product ideas.” Those companies will receive $120,000 each as well as mentorship from various tech and entertainment companies, amongst them the many companies under the Disney umbrella, including ESPN, Pixar, Lucasfilm, Marvel, and Walt Disney Imagineering, not to mention Disney CEO Bob Iger. In return for their financial commitment, Disney and Techstars will receive a total of 6% equity of each company (3% each).
The company describes the program as “powered by Techstars.” Others who have partnered with Techstars for developing their own startup incubators include Barclays, Microsoft, and Sprint. The team dynamic works in such a way so that Disney provides the mentorship and financial and networking resources, while Techstars brings its technology and startup accelerator experience, creating somewhat of a powerhouse incubator specializing in media and content distribution technology. This will be a joint partnership in that it will be equal investment from both Techstars and from Disney. Techstars will additionally appoint someone to help run the day-to-day operations full-time under the supervision of Michael Abrams, Disney’s senior vice-president of innovation.
Kevin Mayer, Disney’s executive vice president for corporate strategy and business development, says the Disney Accelerator “offers a unique collaboration between some of the best creative minds in the entertainment industry and the modern-day visionaries who are starting businesses on the strength of exciting new ideas.”
Mayer says he expects to receive quite a few applications from companies involved in either ad tech, application ideas and technology, like HTML5, mobile, new business models, or even monetization techniques. Participants will be selected based on the concept and whether the idea matches up with something Disney can readily identify with.
Disney will kick off the accelerator program at the end of June in Los Angeles. However, it’s not the only one of its kind, and will have to compete with other programs, including Warner Bros. Media Camp, which will be in its second year this summer. Mayer is, however, undeterred, stating that he doesn’t expect Warner Bros. Media Camp as being a distraction from Disney’s Accelerator garnering attention.