This marks the first time that Disney has run its accelerator fully in-house without relying on Techstars, the outside partner that helped it get the program off the ground in 2014. Unlike previous batches, participants span from seed- or very early-stage companies to those that have already raised a significant amount of funding and generated millions in revenue. Disney is also changing the equity and funding deals it offers to teams on an ad hoc basis as opposed to a one-size-fits-all deal to all admitted companies.
Alumni of the Disney Accelerator have scored big partnerships with the media and entertainment juggernaut in the past. Disney also often connects startups in its accelerator with operating units of the Walt Disney Co., broadly, so they can pilot projects together or forge partnerships of another kind.
A clear example of this is Sphero, which created the BB-8 droid Star Wars toy, a bestseller for Disney in 2015. Another is StatMuse, the sports data platform that now provides Disney-owned ESPN with statistical content.
Companies in today’s batch are developing everything from cinematic virtual reality and holographic content to robots with human-like facial expressions. Tune in here at 2:30pm PT to catch all the action.
Nom: Nom is an online live streaming video community for chefs and food lovers. Nom users can create, share, watch and participate in live videos while chatting and interacting with each other. Nom was founded by Vijay Karunamurthy, former YouTube engineering lead, and Steve Chen, co-founder and CTO of YouTube.
OTOY: OTOY is a holographic content platform bringing the power of light field rendering and streaming to virtual reality and augmented reality experiences. OTOY’s investors include Autodesk and advisers include Eric Schmidt, Executive Chairman of Alphabet (formerly Google) and Ariel Emanuel, co-CEO of WME|IMG.
Pley: Pley is a leading toy subscription company that is pioneering the next generation in e-commerce for toys. For a monthly fee, members receive their preferred toys from a catalog of 500+ toys shipped directly to their door; they can play with, keep or return each toy whenever they wish. Pley has raised more than $16 million in funding.
Ader: Ader is a marketplace connecting advertisers with e-sports talent. The company’s network reaches more than 50 million monthly viewers.
Playbuzz: Playbuzz is a content-creation and audience-engagement platform that empowers thousands of publishers, marketers, bloggers and brands to easily create engaging content using mobile-friendly formats that are optimized for social sharing. With headquarters in New York and Tel Aviv, Playbuzz has raised $31 million in funding.
Hanson Robotics: Hanson Robotics is a leader in creating human-like robots with a full range of facial expressions. Based in Hong Kong, Hanson Robotics is building a range of robots for the business and consumer markets. The videos of its robot “Sophia” have been viewed more than one billion times.
Atom Tickets: Atom Tickets is a mobile movie ticketing app where customers can buy movie tickets, pre-order concessions, invite friends without having to pay for them, easily discover new movies, browse trailers, read reviews and plan their next night out at the movies. Atom Tickets is movie-going for the twenty-first century.
Jaunt: Pioneering end-to-end solutions for creating and publishing immersive cinematic virtual reality, Jaunt is a leading developer of the hardware, software, tools and applications that put the power of virtual reality in the hands of some of today’s best content creators. Jaunt has raised more than $100 million and in May launched Jaunt China, a virtual reality joint venture with China Media Capital and Shanghai Media Group.
littleBits: littleBits is a platform of easy-to-use technology kits empowering kids to invent anything, from a remote-controlled car to a dancing robot to a smart home device. littleBits was founded by Ayah Bdeir, co-founder of the Open Hardware Summit, a TED Senior Fellow and a graduate of the MIT Media Lab. On a mission to unleash the inventor in everyone and get kids excited about STEM, littleBits has raised more than $60 million in funding.
Banner Photo Credit: Disney