Nike wants developer skills for its accelerator program

Nike has announced the Nike+ Accelerator program in partnership with TechStars, a startup investment and mentoring company.

The ten successful startups will be given $20,000 each to help develop their fitness-related apps – anything that would “bring motivation and inspiration to every athlete in the world”, to quote the sport  equipment giant’s mission statement – and leverage the application program interface (API) and software development kit (SDK) of Nike+.

Specifically, Nike wants to hear from any company that aims “to use Nike+ technology to create products and services that will inspire athletes across a broad range of activity and health goals including training, coaching, gaming, data visualisation and quantified self”, in the words of a Nike press release.

The Accelerator program starts in March and carries on for three months, with the demo day scheduled for June 13 2013. The deadline for applications expires on February 3.

TechStars has managed to raise over $275m in venture capital for various startups since its inception, so it appears the companies who apply will be in good hands in the incubator, with TechStars second only to Y Combinator in terms of startup revenue.

This would appear to be a more concerted effort to assimilate Nike into the tech spectrum. The sports giant has a well-known behind-the-scenes partnership with Apple, ranging from using iDevices in Nike adverts to current Apple CEO Tim Cook becoming a director at Nike in 2005.

The successful startups will get expert mentoring as part of the deal, including David Cohen, the CEO of TechStars, and Stefan Olander, Nike vice president of digital sport, who helped launch the Nike+ brand.

The goal for Nike evidently seems to be to expand Nike+ to third party services, and make the platform itself more valuable as more developers sign up and use it.

But is there the potential for other traditionally non-tech companies to follow Nike’s lead, find venture capital and allow startups to flourish on a platform?

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