Disney is going tech in a big way with today’s announcement of the Disney Accelerator incubator program, which will partner with Techstars to train and fund 10 early-stage consumer and entertainment startups every three months.
This will be a big boost for startup entrepreneurs, who need contacts with high-level people to make their businesses a success. But it also helps Disney keep its ear on the pulse of technological innovation. The startups will also have access to stories, characters, tech, and other resources from the vast Disney empire.
The Disney Accelerator will be based in Los Angeles, and Techstars — itself a training and funding program for startups — will run it. It’s now accepting applications from early-stage companies in consumer media and entertainment products. Participants will get $120,000 in investment capital to develop their ideas with mentor support from top Disney executives, including chairman and chief executive Robert Iger. Leaders from Pixar, Marvel, LucasFilm, ESPN, and Walt Disney Engineering will also participate as mentors.
The program starts June 30 and concludes in September with an Investor Demo Day, where the teams will present their companies to business leaders and investors.
“Disney has always been defined by innovation, leveraging the technology required to build the future of entertainment,” said Kevin Mayer, executive vice president of corporate strategy and business development for The Walt Disney Company. “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.”
Overseeing the Disney Accelerator program is Michael Abrams, Disney’s senior vice president of innovation. The deadline for applications is April 16. Techstars runs accelerator programs in Austin, Texas; Boston; Boulder, Colo.; San Antonio; Chicago; New York; Seattle; and London.