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Disney is looking to get in on the ground floor of media and entertainment innovation with a startup mentorship program called Disney Accelerator.
The studio has enlisted the help of Techstars — based in Boulder, Colo., with accelerators in seven cities — to run its three-month program.
An accelerator, popular in the tech world, is meant to help entrepreneurs through the early stages of starting a business, a time when most startups fail. A standard accelerator provides seed capital, mentorship, office space and access to other resources. It is only meant to last a few months.
Disney is accepting applications for its program until April 16. It will then select 10 startups to seed with $120,000 each, a much larger capital investment than most accelerators. Disney executives, including CEO Bob Iger and leaders from Pixar, Marvel, Lucasfilm, ESPN and others, will act as mentors to the startups along with investors and tech entrepreneurs.
“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,” said Kevin Mayer, Disney executive vp corporate strategy and business development.
The program will be led by Disney senior vp innovation Michael Abrams. It will begin June 30 and end in September with a demo day presentation in front of investors.
Startup accelerators have become popular within the entertainment industry over the last year.
United Talent Agency partnered with the University of Southern California’s Viterbi School of Engineering and venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers to start the Viterbi Startup Garage accelerator. Nine companies, including entertainment search and discovery platform Mediahouse and apparel reverse auction marketplace Taggle, were given $20,000 for the three-month program in 2013.
Warner Bros., meanwhile, launched Media Camp LA in 2013 based on a San Francisco program that Turner had started the previous year. Warners seeded each company with $20,000 and provided workspace on the lot. Five startups graduated out of the program in July, including movie theater marketplace Dealflicks, online distribution platform Reelhouse Media and video production tool Skit.
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