Nike has awarded 10 startups $20,000 each to build applications for its Nike+ products. The giant sporting goods company is striving to turn its digital gadget success into a technical platform.
In December, Nike announced a program, in partnership with TechStars -- a startup mentoring and investment organization -- to offer money and mentoring to companies interested in creating health- and fitness-related applications that use the Nike+ technology. The idea is to seed app development for products, such as Nike+ FuelBand, to create a platform in much the same way that Apple has created a platform with iTunes and Microsoft, with Windows.
"We recently celebrated the first year of NikeFuel, and the Accelerator program is a natural next step to broaden and enhance the Nike+ ecosystem -- allowing Nike to offer richer experiences to athletes of all levels," said Stefan Olander, vice president of digital sport at Nike, in a press release.
Some proposed app ideas among the 10 companies, selected from the "hundreds" that applied, according to Nike's press release, include games that encourage users to exercise and a corporate wellness app that espouses healthy living habits.
The chosen startups include FitDeck, which develops digital decks of playing cards with prescribed workouts on each card, and CoachBase, a playbook tech tool for sports coaches.
In addition to the funding, the companies will receive mentoring from Olander, TechStars founder and CEO David Cohen, Foursquare co-founder Naveen Selvadurai, Birchbox co-founder Katia Beauchamp, Mayfield Fund Managing Director Tim Chang, and Tim Ferriss, author of the best-selling book, "The 4-Hour Workweek."
The companies will work for the next three months in Portland, Ore., near Nike's Beaverton headquarters, to develop their applications. In mid-June, they will pitch their products to angel investors, venture capitalists, industry leaders, and Nike executives at headquarters and in Silicon Valley.