Disney puts a new spin on its accelerator

Disney puts a new spin on its accelerator
From TechCrunch - July 11, 2017

Over the past few years, Disneys accelerator classes have been transitioning away from what was once a roughly standard early-stage growth framework. Rather than the adopt-a-company models prevalent among most accelerators, it has been leaning hard into how it can create mutually beneficial relationships with companies that run the gamut from well-established to really just beginning.

The latest class, announced today, really shows how far the model has evolved beyond its early partnerships with Techstars. The press release that came along with the list rightly calls out Sphero as a success story from its last batch. The little-robot-company-that-could had been making a very cool controllable ball for a while but had struggled to really latch into the customer consciousness.

Disney was able to lend its IP (as well as senior executive and storyteller staff) to the companya relationship that resulted in the smash hit BB-8 bot.

That mashing together of unique talent with Disneys storytelling, IP, incredibly horizontal org and deep executive talent pool as advisers makes its accelerator one of the more unique programs operating in the startup space. Especially now that it is solidly differentiating its approach from the rest of the pack.

Some of the opportunities are obvious. The VOID is one of a small group of companies making a strong go at creating VR experiences in physical anchor spacesan effort to drive traffic and create a movie-like experience. Unlike most of VR, this sector is having some kind of commercial success. That experience plus Disney IP seems like an interesting bet.

The aXiomatic selection is smart because ESPN is a hop and a skip away from esports. Epic being included here just means an embarrassment of richesits got a great thing going already but theres a lotof plussing that could happen.

Others are more obliqueBrit + Co is a media and goods company, and Hoodline is a hyper-local news and analysis company. But given that I saw a Hoodline mentioned on a local ABC affiliate a few weeks back, I think I can see where that is going.

(Hoodline was co-founded by former TechCrunch co-editor Eric Eldon, but he wouldnt tell me what theyre up to yet. Too much media training probably.)

Im very interested to see how some of the companies in this eclectic grouping will capitalize on the relationship with Disney. Heres the full group of companies this batch (descriptions are Disneys).


An innovative sound company that creates a continuous sound field with a sense of depth and dimension through any device with stereo speakers, bringing an immersive sound experience to everyone.


A broad-based esports company built by leading sports team owners with ownership interests in esports teams and esports content distribution. The company has a majority stake in Team Liquid, a top esports team in the US and Europe with 60 pro players, coaches, and analysts competing in nine games as well as a minority stake in Super League Gaming.

Brit + Co

A digital media company that inspires, educates and entertains real women with a creative spirit. Through inspirational content, online classes, and products, Brit + Co enables their audience of over 125 million to use creativity to shape their best lives.

Epic Games


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