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.