Silicon Prairie News

RecBob scores one of 10 spots in first Nike+ Accelerator in Portland

Portland March 18, 2013 by Danny Schreiber Only 19 days until Big Omaha. Get your tickets before they sell out!

The RecBob team makes a stop at TechStars' Boulder, Colo., headquarters on its way to Portland. (From left: Chris Quartier, Alex Frazier, Nick Silhacek, John Schnipkoweit and Brad Candullo.)

Over the next three months, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, startup RecBob hopes to pick up its game. The team behind a recreational sports management app is one of 10 companies chosen to participate in the inaugural Nike+ Accelerator that kicked off today in Portland, RecBob founder John Schnipkoweit said Sunday.

"They are giving the 10 companies the first access to (its FuelBand) API to look at that data and integrate that data into what we're doing, so that's really exciting," Schnipkoweit said.

Nike, which announced the accelerator in October—the same month RecBob launched its public beta—has teamed up with TechStars to run the program, which will be housed in downtown Portland. The notable Boulder, Colo.-based accelerator is providing its mentor-driven program and Nike is giving startups early access to integration opportunities with Nike+, the sports giant's digital platform and products.

It's Nike's hope that teams participating in the accelerator will leverage Nike+ to build offerings that inspire and assist people to live more active lifestyles.

"Nike sees every person that has a body as an athlete," Schnipkoweit said. "That fits a lot, very closely with our userbase, where we're really focused on people playing sports after work."

Though Schnipkoweit isn't sure why Nike and TechStars specifically selected RecBob, he said his startup's application to the program highlighted potential FuelBand (right) integration, including player compatibility and rewards. For example, data could bring together similarly skilled players or it could help RecBob reward a team for achievements outside of winning, such as burning calories.

"We see the FuelBand coming in half utility, half engagement," Schnipkoweit said, noting RecBob's focus up to this point has been utility, such as finding a sub or collecting registration fees.

In addition to access to Nike technology and a group of 50 mentors, which includes 11 Nike employees, the accelerator teams also receive $20,000. In return, they give a 6 percent equity stake to TechStars.

For RecBob, this will be the first time it's given equity to an outside investor—Schnipkoweit said his startup has taken investment from seven Cedar Rapids-based angel investors in the form of convertible debt.

"That's been one of the reasons that we really like Cedar Rapids. The fact that there's been an investment community that's supported us and really got us to where we're at," said Schnipkoweit, who's also put his money behind the venture. Last year, he sold his stake in his previous company to his co-founder.

He declined to say how much he's raised or the names of his investors, but he did say his startup has "enough runway to get past the program."

The program wraps up in June with two demo days, one in Portland and one in Silicon Valley.

When that day arrives, Schnipkoweit hopes to see his app's feature set complete, his co-workers achieve personal growth and "something cool happen" as a result of his company's new relationship with Nike.

When asked his reaction to receiving the news two weeks ago, Schnipkoweit, who's been rejected by TechStars in the past, said he and his team were ecstatic.

"I don't think it's really set in yet," he said. "We're in Portland and we're like, 'It's starting to really feel real.' "

Following the end of a three-day road trip Friday night, Schnipkoweit and his four teammates moved into an apartment a five-minute walk away from the accelerator.

 

Credits: Photo courtesy of RecBob. Nike FuelBand image from nikeaccelerator.com.

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