Silicon Prairie News

NextStep returns to Iowa after three-month run with Nike, TechStars

Cedar Rapids June 26, 2013 by Megan Bannister Only 18 days until Big Omaha. Get your tickets before they sell out!

The RecBob team—Alex Frazier, Nick Silhacek, John Schnipkoweit and Chris Qaurtier—plans to return to their Cedar Rapids roots to continue building NextStep.io.

Fresh off a three-month stay in Portland for the TechStars Nike+ Accelerator and three demo days along the West Coast, John Schnipkoweit and the rest of his team are headed home to Iowa.

But the five-person team that left Cedar Rapids as RecBob returns as NextStep.io, a Nike+ Fuel application that Schnipkoweit describes as a "dashboard that makes sense of your quantified self."

"As in many pivots, sometimes they turn in to leaps and this is no exception," Schnipkoweit told Silicon Prairie News. "After considering many, many different paths, we started to see some common themes that excited all of us––and thats what lead us to NextStep.io."

And it appears the company's leap has paid off as it continues toward completing a $300,000 round of funding. Following a private demo day earlier this month with Nike executives, the NextStep team participated in a public demo day at the sportswear giant's world headquarters where more than 800 attendees crowded into the Tiger Woods Center to hear the 10 accelerator teams present.

"We met with something like 300 people throughout the program, ranging from TechStars mentors to Nike employees to athletes to investors, but there were still some additional people that came up to us that day," Schnipkoweit said.

The team also participated in a third demo day in San Francisco, an experience Schnipkoweit said was greatly enhanced by the attention Nike pays to its corporate brand, especially in the production of the team's pitch decks.

"All that is definitely unique to Nike," he said. "In the sense that Nike is really into that brand polish and wanted to instill that in all of the startups as well."

NextStep.io helps Nike+ Fuel users bring context to their daily activity data.

The team currently is in the process of moving back to Cedar Rapids to continue working on NextStep. But Schnipkoweit realizes all too well that the transition out of "accelerator-mode" won't be as easy as packing up a few boxes.

"It's already kind of apparent that just working independently after all that time being surrounded by nine other companies, you get into TechStars whiplash," he said.

To help with the transition Schnipkoweit said the company will work in two-week sprints and continue to hone their product while distributing it to beta testers. 

"I think one of the challenges for us is that there are so many data sets we can wrap around your (Nike+ Fuel) activity data," he said. "We're trying to figure out how to add most impact without us supporting the entire world."

"We're kind of just going into heads down and build mode," Schnipkoweit added.

For more on NextStep and the Nike+ Accelerator, check out our past coverage:


Credits: Team and John Schnipkoweit photos courtesty of Schnipkoweit. Product photo from NextStep.io.
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