News & Views

Nike / Nike Accelerator

by Contagious Team

Sportswear brand launches start up accelerator

Nike is launching a start-up accelerator in collaboration with top startup accelerator TechStars to help build its digital sports business. 

Opening up Nike+ and the Nike Fuelband self-tracking service and wristband, Nike+ Accelerator will take in ten start-ups for an intensive three month-long mentored programme. Each will receive $20,000, and access to the software developer kit and API for Fuelband, as well as the brand's Nike+ system. 

Nike intends to tap this nascent digital talent to enhance or build training or coaching platforms, games, social challenges, tools and dashboards to persuade people to use these products more. 

Mentors include Nike's VP digital sports, Stefan OlanderNaveen Selvadurai, co-founder of Foursquare, and quantified-self guru Tim Ferriss

Starting in March, at the end of the three month programme the ten companies will pitch their products and services over two days in June at technology investor showcases at Nike headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon, and in Silicon Valley.

Contagious Insight      

Nike claimed last year that it had become a tech company, and the pioneering creation of digital services like Nike+ and product-enabled services Nike Fuelband have shown its commitment to providing services to help make people better athletes.

Contagious first covered the trend for brands investing and collaborating with tech start ups early last year online and in the magazine in a trend we dubbed Brands as VCs. As businesses become properly digitally integrated across all their operations, these tie-ups with technology companies will become far more important. The benefits are clear: bringing in nimble startups is a smart way to bring in a wealth of diverse, top talent from across the tech world: in practical terms an external R&D team. 

It's not entirely new of course, as we reported last year PepsiTelefonica and others are taking the same approach to innovation, with some success. 

It's a clever marketing idea too for Nike consumers and potential employees. It positions the sportswear brand as a company dedicated to serving athletes in ways beyond selling training shoes and Tshirts. But it also alerts top digital talent that it's serious about technology: talent that the company will no doubt be jostling to hire in the coming years.

This story originally appeared on Contagious Feed. Contagious Feed is our bespoke trends, inspiration, insight and analysis service, providing daily innovative marketing intelligence across a comprehensive range of sectors to brands and agencies across the world. For more information about Contagious Feed contact