On October 13, 2016, a beautiful early autumn day, a crowd of about 200 entertainment industry professionals and press gathered outside, then inside, then again outside the main theater on the Disney lot in Burbank to watch and listen to promotional pitches from nine startups whose development has been aided by support from the Disney Accelerator Program.
Etopia News conducted short video interviews after the presentations with Bob Iger, Chairman and CEO of The Walt Disney Company; Jaunt’s CEO George Kliavkoff; Ayah Bdeir, Founder and CEO of littleBits; Andrew Tergis, an electrical engineer at littleBits; and nom Associate Producer Emily Rudisill, accompanied by PR Professional Lena Potter.
Links to these interviews are interspersed within the following verbatim and comprehensive press release about the event written and provided to Etopia News by the Disney team:
Disney Accelerator Showcases Nine Startups at 2016 Demo Day
Participating companies announce Disney deals and products
Burbank, Calif., October 13, 2016 – Today, The Walt Disney Company concluded the 2016 Disney Accelerator program, hosting its third annual Demo Day. At the event, the nine participating companies presented their businesses to investors, Disney executives and other industry leaders.
Demo Day follows the three-month immersive Disney Accelerator program, which gave participants from around the world unprecedented guidance, access and opportunities to work with all divisions of The Walt Disney Company. In addition, leaders from participating companies received mentorship from Disney executives, including Chairman and CEO Robert A. Iger, as well as leaders from The Walt Disney Company, including Disney|ABC Television Group, Disney Consumer Products and Interactive Media (DCPI), ESPN, Lucasfilm, Marvel, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts and others.
For a video interview with Bob Iger, in which he comments on Disney’s competitive advantage going forward, click here.
"Technology and innovation are at the heart of every experience at The Walt Disney Company, and Disney Accelerator puts us on the ground floor with some of the most promising startups in the world through a program aimed at accelerating the future of media and entertainment,"
This year’s program builds on the success of past Disney Accelerator initiatives, which first launched in 2014. Past participants continue to work with Disney, including Sphero, which created the BB-8 droid toy, the number one Star Wars toy in 2015. Additionally, StatMuse , an AI-powered sports storytelling and knowledge platform, is currently providing ESPN with interactive statistical content, and Israel-based imperson launched The Muppets’ Miss Piggy and Disney’s Zootopia chat experiences on Facebook powered by the company’s artificial intelligence technology.
The Disney Accelerator 2016 companies and their announcements with The Walt Disney Company include:
· Ader – a marketplace connecting advertisers with esports talent. Through the Disney Accelerator, Ader is working on a pilot program with Maker Studios, a global leader in short form content and one of the largest influencer networks worldwide, to together offer unique esports opportunities to the world's leading marketers. Maker Studios plans to also bring top gaming creators to live streaming through Ader’s marketplace. Additionally, Ader and ESPN are planning to bring some of the company’s top esports talent to ESPN.com in a 2017 pilot program to provide weekly video analyzing key updates to the top esports games.
· Atom Tickets – a new social mobile ticketing app for movies; Atom makes it easy to find your favorite movie, invite your friends, and preorder your favorite snacks. Atom helps you plan your night out to the movies and is available nationwide. Atom Tickets announced today that it will be working with The Walt Disney Studios and DCPI to offer consumers the opportunity to purchase merchandise with movie tickets for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, with future titles under consideration.
· Hanson Robotics – a leader in creating human-like robots with a full range of facial expressions. Through the Disney Accelerator, Hanson Robotics is conducting research and development with DCPI and Walt Disney Imagineering to explore bringing Disney characters to life as consumer products that could be sold at retail.
· Jaunt – Pioneering end-to-end solutions for creating and publishing immersive cinematic virtual reality, Jaunt is 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. Today, Jaunt announced that it has licensed Disney Research’s cutting-edge VR video technology and will be collaborating with Disney Research to integrate it into Jaunt’s Cloud Services. Jaunt is also working with ESPN to film several of this season’s College GameDay stops in VR, offering viewers behind the scenes access to the iconic show, tailgates, interviews and sideline action.
For a video interview with Jaunt’s CEO George Kliavkoff, click here.
· littleBits – littleBits is a platform of easy-to-use technology kits that empowers kids to invent anything, from a remote controlled car to a dancing robot to a smart home device. At Demo Day, littleBits shared that it is working with DCPI on a potential Star Wars collaboration. Additionally, littleBits announced that the company is working with DCPI to develop a short form online video series that features kids as everyday inventors, premiering this fall with a story featuring Disney characters.
For a video interview with Ayah Bdeir, Founder and CEO of littleBits, click here.
For a video interview with Andrew Tergis, an electrical engineer at littleBits, in which he demonstrates how littleBits work, click here.
· Nom – Nom is an online community where people who are passionate about food connect through live video and chat. Today, Nom announced it is working with ABC to bring video clips, behind-the-scenes content, and sneak peeks of upcoming episodes of The Chew to its audience of food lovers. Nom will also be working with DCPI’s Content and Media sites to feature amazing food videos from Disney Family and Babble. Additionally, Nom and VICE Media will bring the world of Munchies, Vice’s food platform, to Nom.
For an interview with nom Associate Producer Emily Rudisill, accompanied by PR Professional Lena Potter, in which she discusses the company’s mission, click here.
· OTOY – OTOY is a holographic content platform bringing the power of light field rendering and streaming to virtual reality and augmented reality experiences. Through OTOY’s new ORBX media player, Disney.com, Marvel.com, ABC.com, ABCNews.com and ESPN.com are now available to browse in Oculus Social and Samsung’s Web Browser for Gear VR. Users can now explore these web sites in a VR environment with their friends.
· Playbuzz – Playbuzz is a content-creation and audience-engagement platform that empowers thousands of publishers, marketers and brands to easily create engaging content using mobile-friendly formats that are optimized for social sharing. Through the Disney Accelerator, ABC.com, ESPN.com and DCPI’s Content and Media sites, including Oh My Disney, Disney Style, and Babble are now piloting Playbuzz content formats.
· Pley – a leading toy subscription company that is pioneering the next generation in e-commerce for toys. Pley is exploring an exciting relationship with Disney Store which will aim to bring to market a Disney Princess subscription package.
For more information about the Disney Accelerator program, please visit DisneyAccelerator.com.