2016 Disney Accelerator Participants Announced


Today [July 11th] The Walt Disney Company announced participants in the 2016 Disney Accelerator, a program that provides entrepreneurs with mentorship and immersion into the media and entertainment industry. The three-month program connects participants from around the world with Disney’s creative expertise and resources to help them develop their products and consumer experiences.

Since the Disney Accelerator started in 2014, companies representing the cutting edge of technology and media have joined the program from across the United States, Europe, the Middle East and Asia with products that tap into a range of technologies including robotics, artificial intelligence, e-commerce, wearables, messaging and virtual reality. Past participants in the Disney Accelerator have continued to work with The Walt Disney Company after completing the program, such as, Sphero, which created the BB-8 droid toy, the number one Star Wars toy in 2015. Additionally, Statmuse, an interactive sports stats platform powered by natural language search, is currently providing ESPN with statistical content; Israel-based imperson launched The Muppets’ Miss Piggy and Disney’s Zootopia chat experiences on Facebook using their artificial intelligence technology and EMOTIV’s Insight wearable for the brain was featured on ABC Television’s The Bachelor.

This year’s program includes nine startups and one internal project, and builds on Disney Accelerator’s success since its initial launch.

“We are evolving this year’s Disney Accelerator to include many later-stage start-ups, and for the first time, an internal project,” said Michael Abrams, senior vice president, Innovation, The Walt Disney Company. “This year’s Disney Accelerator program is designed to advance a broader spectrum of the strategic investments we make in innovation across all of our businesses.”

The companies selected for the 2016 Disney Accelerator include:

Ader is a marketplace connecting brands with eSports and gaming influencers. The company’s network of influencers reaches more than 50 million monthly viewers.

Atom Tickets is a new 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 21st century.

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 1 billion times.

Jaunt is pioneering end-to-end solutions for creating and publishing immersive cinematic virtual reality and 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 has launched Jaunt China, a virtual reality joint venture with China Media Capital and Shanghai Media Group in May.

littleBits is a platform of easy-to-use electronic building blocks that empowers kids to invent anything, from a remote-controlled car to a dancing robotto 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.

Nom, an online live-streaming video community for chefs and food lovers, allows its users to 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 is a “holographic content” platform bringing the power of light field rendering and network streaming to virtual reality and augmented reality experiences. OTOY’s investors include Autodesk and its advisers include Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Alphabet (formerly Google) and Ariel Emanuel, Co-CEO of WME|IMG.

Playbuzz is a content-creation and audience-engagement platform that empowers tens of 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.

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 and can play with, keep or return each toy whenever they wish. Pley has raised more than $16 million in funding.

2015 Disney Accelerator Demo Day Showcases 10 Promising Start-Ups

October 7, 2015

By Disney Post Staff, The Walt Disney Company

The Disney Accelerator program, poweredbyTechstars, is designed to accelerate the growth of start-up companies from around the world. Today the 10 companies selected to participate in the 2015 Disney Accelerator program presented their businesses to the investment and entrepreneurial communities, industry leaders and Disney executives in a Demo Day event held at The Walt Disney Studios lot in Burbank, California.Participants in the three-month Disney Accelerator program received up to $120,000 in investment capital to develop their ideas and they were mentored by top Disney executives who included Chairman and CEO Robert A.Iger and leaders from Marvel,Lucasfilm, ABC, ESPN and Walt DisneyImagineering, along with Techstars’ extensive network of entrepreneurs, investors and executives.Here are the 10 promising start-ups that presented their businesses today:

  • Decisive analyzes and predicts how audiences will respond to images and video on social media platforms.
  • EMOTIV creates technology to enable everyone to build a relationship with their brain. EMOTIV Insight, which is available now, is a wearable for your brain that monitors emotions, improves mental performance and controls both virtual and physical objects with thoughts.
  • FEM Inc. engages diverse audiences with Prizma, a platform that powers personalized video experiences using principles of neuroscience.
  • HYP3R makes it easy for businesses to engage influential customers at specific locations on a personal level, in real-time.
  • imperson is pioneering conversational media, driven by artificial intelligence, so fans can message their favorite movie and TV characters. imperson announced today that it is working with the team at Disney Consumer Products and Interactive Media Labs to create a new messaging experience for The Muppets featuring Miss Piggy coming later this fall.
  • Littlstar is a Virtual Reality and 360 video consumer destination and developer platform, where audiences can discover and share premium immersive content. Littlstar is live on iPhone, Android, Web and the Gear VR, with more devices coming.
  • MakieLab lets kids bring toys to life by building their own customizable 3D-printed toys through creative games and apps. MakieLab will be introducing Disney-, Disney•Pixar- and Marvel-branded accessories for Makie dolls, as well as helping kids create their own versions of a Star Darling—inspired by Disney’s brand-new franchise for girls—in Fall 2016.
  • Open Bionics is turning children with limb differences into super heroes, creating low-cost 3D-printed bionic hands for amputees. Today Open Bionics revealed custom bionic hands for kids, and The Walt Disney Company is donating the time of its creative teams and providing royalty-free licenses, which will allow Open Bionics to offer Disney-inspired bionic hands for kids from franchises such as Star Wars, Marvel’s Iron Man and Disney’s Frozen.
  • Pundit is talk for mobile and social—an easy way to create, share and respond to stories with your voice.
  • StatMuse is an interactive platform for sports fans to search, share and discover sports, powered by simple natural language. On StatMuse, every search result is a piece of content and every sports fan becomes a content creator.

All of the companies that were part of the 2014 Disney Accelerator have raised capital, been acquired or become profitable—and many of the participating companies have launched products and programs in conjunction with The Walt Disney Company, including Sphero’s hugely successful BB-8 droid toy that was released on Force Friday.

“Disney Accelerator has allowed us to work with some of the world’s most innovative start-ups who are developing products, experiences, and technologies that will help shape the future of entertainment,” Kevin Mayer, Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer of The Walt Disney Company, said. “Their entrepreneurial spirit, combined with Disney’s experience, make for a powerful combination—and we are excited to partner with many of them as they continue their journeys.”

To learn more about the Disney Accelerator program, please visit DisneyAccelerator.com.

– See more at: https://thewaltdisneycompany.com/blog#sthash.bUEGUNE7.dpuf

The Walt Disney Company Announces Second Startup Accelerator Program

January 27, 2015
The Walt Disney Company announced that it is accepting applications for its second Disney Accelerator program powered byTechstars. Disney Accelerator will select a class of 10 startup companies for a three-month mentorship and investment program beginning July 6, 2015 and concluding with a Demo Day on October 6, 2015.The program is open to technology-based startups with a vision for making an impact on the world of media and entertainment. Participants will be offered $120,000 in investment capital along with mentor support from top Disney executives, entrepreneurs, investors and other notable business leaders from the entertainment and technology communities. 

In 2014, Disney launched its first Disney Accelerator with companies focused on a range of products including connected toys, mobile video, STEM applications, social media, advertising technology and more. Disney continues to work with many of the alumni from the inaugural class, which included Choremonster, Codarica, Jogg, Naritiv, Sidelines, Smart Toy, SnowShoe, Sphero, Twigtale and TYFFON. 

The 2014 Disney Accelerator class reached a number of significant milestones during the program. SnowShoe secured $2.2 million in seed financing; ChoreMonster and Codarica both launched mobile apps; Sphero introduced its new Ollie product and Smart Toy was acquired by Cartwheel Kids, a Los Angeles-based manufacturer of children’s products.

“The Disney Accelerator was born of Disney’s long term commitment to innovation and its position at the intersection of technology and entertainment,” said Kevin Mayer, Disney’s Executive Vice President, Corporate Strategy and Business Development. “The 2014 Disney Accelerator demonstrated that pairing Disney’s creative and business talent with entrepreneurs can produce an energizing and valuable exchange of ideas and promote tremendous innovation. We look forward to working with a new group of start-ups in the months to come. ”

For more information, please go to DisneyAccelerator.com.

Inaugural Disney Accelerator Demo Day Takes Place at Walt Disney Studios

021214_01_DisneyAcceleratorAfter finishing the 15-week immersive Disney Accelerator program, powered by Techstars, the 10 selected start-ups are currently presenting their businesses to the investment and entrepreneurial communities, industry leaders and Disney executives at a Demo Day at The Walt Disney Studios lot in Burbank, California. The companies were mentored by more than 60 Disney executives as well as 70 entrepreneurs and investors from the business community, received up to $120,000 in investment capital to develop their companies and obtained special access to Disney resources from across the Company. A second Disney Accelerator was also announced and is slated for 2015.

Meet the companies that participated in Disney Accelerator below:

  1. ChoreMonster unites parents and kids with the most ridiculously fun and motivating family framework, so every home is a joyful place.
  2. Codarica creates seriously fun games that teach kids to code.
  3. Jogg is a mobile video platform that changes the direction of how we engage our audience.
  4. Narativ is a marketing and analytics platform for micro-content, starting with Snapchat.
  5. Sidelines is a people-powered content marketing platform that drives brand influence through discussions by expert fans.
  6. Smart Toy is a learning toy that talks and listens to kids, and can be customized to know your child’s name, teach lessons and much more.
  7. SnowShoe creates magic with a touch of plastic, and SnowShoe-powered objects unlock digital content through your smartphone.
  8. Sphero is the connected play company, fusing digital and physical play by creating toys and robots that you control with a smart device.
  9. Twigtale builds happier families through personalization and expert-fueled storytelling.
  10. TYFFON makes entertaining apps that put you in the center of the fun—founded by the creators of the ZombieBooth series, with nearly 30 million downloads.


Lots of great milestones were reached during the course of the Disney Accelerator. For instance, Smart Toy, a company that makes toys that teach, talk and interact with children, announced during Demo Day that it has been acquired by Cartwheel Kids, a Los Angeles-based manufacturer of children’s products. In addition, SnowShoe announced that it had secured $2.2 million in seed financing and ChoreMonster and Codarica both launched mobile apps. Sphero also introduced its new Ollie product during the program, and Twigtale announced regarded pediatrician and author Dr. Harvey Karp as its editor-in-chief.

“This group of start-ups has made tremendous progress evolving and growing their businesses in the past fifteen weeks,” Kevin Mayer, Disney’s executive vice president, Corporate Strategy and Business Development, said. “It has been a fantastic learning experience for them and an opportunity for Disney to get in on the ground floor with a new generation of innovators. We look forward to the opportunity to work with all of these companies moving forward and to meeting a new set of participants next year.”

Disney’s Startup Accelerator Program Announces Participants

by Kevin Mayer, Executive Vice President, Corporate Strategy and Business Development, The Walt Disney Company


Earlier this year, we announced Disney Accelerator, powered by Techstars, a first-of-its-kind program for the Company that gives today’s innovators, who are designing the future of entertainment and technology, the benefit of Disney’s expertise and guidance.

We’ve hit the ground running since then to find the best creative minds, entrepreneurs, and visionaries to help them develop and build our industry of tomorrow. After reviewing many diverse applicants from all around the world, today we’re pleased to announce the 11 startup companies that Disney selected for this special, immersive mentorship program:

  • Buzzstarter – Buzzstarter is the world’s first scalable programmatic content marketing platform.
  • ChoreMonster – ChoreMonster is a web and mobile platform that makes chores fun for kids and turns parents into superheroes.
  • Codarica – Codarica serves as children’s first interaction into the world of code with help from characters Cody Coder and Holly Hacker.
  • Cogo – Cogo provides video monetization solutions for content creators.
  • Jogg – Jogg simplifies the act of acquiring video from anyone. Users can gather, edit and share much more than just video from their own device.
  • Sphero – Sphero is the connected play company, which fuses digital and physical play by creating robots that you control with a smart device.
  • Sidelines – Sidelines fixes the problem of substandard online discussions and comments by sourcing smart, high-quality discussions from its curated team of more than 400 experts, and distributing these discussions to publishers based on relevance.
  • SnowShoe – SnowShoe makes simple, magical pieces of plastic that interact with touch screens to create the perfect bridge between physical items and digital content.
  • Twigtale – Twigtale provides parents with personalized, high-quality, accessible expert advice for every major transition a child undergoes.
  • TYFFON – TYFFON is an entertainment app development company and creator of the ZombieBooth series with more than 25 million total downloads.
  • Ubooly – Ubooly is a learning toy that talks and listens to kids. Ubooly can be customized to know your child’s name, teach lessons and much more.

For the next 15 weeks, Disney Accelerator will provide these companies with the tools and support they need to further expand their visions. Top Disney executives will serve as mentors, and each will receive up to $120,000 in investment capital to develop their companies. Participants will also have special access to stories, characters, technology and other resources from across the Company.

The program kicks off with a meeting of teams and mentors, including Disney Chairman and CEO Bob Iger, and leaders from Pixar, Marvel, Lucasfilm, ABC, ESPN and Walt Disney Imagineering. Moving forward, the selected companies will consult with mentors regularly to build on their concepts and business plans, and to formulate long-term strategies. The program will culminate with a Demo Day in September, where each company will present to Disney executives, industry leaders and the entrepreneurial community.

With Disney Accelerator we are now bringing the creativity and imagination of Disney to early stage startups in a way we have never done before. We are thrilled by the response we’ve received and the high caliber of applicants to the program and we look forward to sharing our knowledge with this excellent group of creative entrepreneurs and really making a difference with these startup companies.

The Walt Disney Company Announces Startup Accelerator Program


021214_01_DisneyAcceleratorToday [2/12/2014] The Walt Disney Company announced that it will select 10 startup companies for a three-month mentorship and seed-stage investment program. Disney Accelerator, which will be based in Los Angeles and powered by Techstars, is now accepting applications from early-stage companies with innovative consumer media and entertainment product ideas.

Participants will receive $120,000 in investment capital to develop their ideas, along with 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. Mentors will also include other entertainment industry leaders, venture capitalists, and Techstars’ extensive network of entrepreneurs, investors and executives. Participants will have access to stories, characters, technology and other resources from across The Walt Disney Company. The program begins June 30, and it concludes with an Investor Demo Day in September where each team will present their company to industry leaders and investors.

“Disney has always been defined by innovation, leveraging the technology required to build the future of entertainment,” Kevin A. Mayer, executive vice president, Corporate Strategy and Business Development, The Walt Disney Company, says. “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 D. Abrams, Disney’s senior vice president, Innovation.

Visit DisneyAccelerator.com for details on the program.