Startup Opportunities: Preview of Visa’s Startup Challenges Plus $200k+ in Innovation Programs, Disney Accelerator & More

March 25th, 2016

KITE is your best source for info on brand pilot programs accelerators and events. Check out the March edition and sign up today so you don’t miss the next one.

Visa released its 2016 The Everywhere Initiative (TEI) at SXSW with a startup competition focused on creative application of Visa’s newly launched APIs. Five great founders pitched a diversity of powerful solutions, and P2P lending startup Ledge (above) won a $25k pilot. At the event, Visa SVP Global Head of Digital & Marketing Transformation, Shiv Singh, announced three new TEI challenges related to its APIs, global events and cardless payments. Applications open in mid-April. Follow @getKITE for updates.

Protip: if you’re interested in CPG brand opportunities, check out the P&G Fellowship, part of The Brandery accelerator (more info below).

Opportunities right now:

  • $200k in New Unilever Foundry Pilots, $25k for Probiotic Innovation
  • Accelerators: Disney, Barclays, The Brandery, Intel Education, Go-Ignite (Telecom Alliance), R/GA Connected Commerce
  • Start-up Academy at Cannes Lions
  • One More Thing: VIDEO about Billion-dollar Disney-Sphero Partnership

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$200k in New Unilever Foundry Pilots, $25k for Probiotic Innovation

Powering Dove with Innovative Tech
Background: For over a decade, Dove has been working to make beauty a source of confidence, not anxiety. Technology has always played an important role in helping to drive the mission forward and connect people with the products that are right for them.
Challenge: Looking for innovative technology to continue to power Dove (e.g., solution to engage with people in store, a clever way to connect via mobile phone, a powerful way to mobilize Dove’s social community).
Pilot available: $50k
Application Deadline: April 7, 2016

Rexona Peer to Peer
Background: In many developing and emerging markets, the deodorant category is under developed. Rexona has conducted programs in schools and universities to educate consumers on its unique benefits. However, the cost of these programs limits their scalability.
Challenge: Looking for a new peer-to-peer education mechanism, supported by compelling, persuasive storytelling, to convey product message to more young women. Solution should be cost efficient and scalable, to pilot in India and/or the Philippines.
Pilot available: $50k
Application Deadline: April 12, 2016

Reduce the Labor of Cleaning
Background: Driven by urbanization and an increasing trend towards creating beautiful homes, the CIF brand purpose is to make more homes beautiful in more places. Yet consumers globally spend 2 hours a day cleaning. How can CIF ease the labor of cleaning, enable delegation to achieve beautiful homes and tackle these global trends?
Challenge: New ways to reach consumers, ease the labor of cleaning and make homes more beautiful by finding new routes to market, opportunities to delegate, technologies and ideas.
Pilot available: $50k
Application Deadline: April 29, 2016

Clear Online User Experience
Background: CLEAR is the 2nd leading anti-dandruff shampoo brand and the market leader in the male anti-dandruff shampoo segment. Leveraging new technologies to engage millennials, the core target demographic for CLEAR, is vital in maintaining market position.
Challenge: CLEAR is looking for a new experience on its brand website ( and/or mobile site that is interesting, engaging and even surprising to millennial consumers.  Interested in re-imagining navigation through the site and discovery of product information and other useful content. This should be driven by a solid understanding of consumer behavior and may be facilitated by technologies such as intelligent search, machine learning, artificial intelligence, etc.
Pilot available: $50k
Application Deadline: May 1, 2016

Unilever: Improve Customer Experience In-store
Background: Unilever’s global network of customer insight and innovation centers provide opportunity to showcase new technology with a view to inspire rollout in retailer stores.
Challenge: Looking for digital technology companies who have robust shopper solutions which they are looking to scale and expose to new markets or retailers.
Pilot available: $50k
Application Deadline: June 15, 2016

Ganeden Probiotic Innovation
Background: Products fortified with Ganeden’s probiotics ingredients generated over $1 billion at retail in the past 12 months. Now the company wants to help further innovation in the food and beverage space.
Challenge: Submit ideas for a new product concept featuring probiotics. Categories of interest include snacks, beverages, cereals, sports nutrition and baked foods.
Award available: $25k
Application Deadline: May 6, 2016

Accelerators: Disney, Barclays, The Brandery, Intel Education, Go Ignite (Telecom Alliance), R/GA Connected Commerce

Disney Accelerator
What:  Accelerator to develop new entertainment experiences and products.
Where: Los Angeles
Length: 3 months
What they’re looking for: Early and venture-backed technology startups with a vision for making an impact on the future of media and entertainment. Past participants include companies from the United States, Europe and Asia with technologies as diverse as robotics, artificial intelligence, wearables, messaging and virtual reality.
Access to: co-working space at Disney’s creative campus; mentor support and guidance from top Disney executives (including CEO Bob Iger), entrepreneurs, investors and other notable business leaders from the entertainment and technology communities.
Deal: Up to $120k for 6% equity
Application Deadline: April 10, 2016
[ See this video about Sphero’s Disney partnership, which started with the Disney Accelerator. ]

The Brandery + P&G Fellowship
What:  Seed-stage startup accelerator that leverages the expertise of the Cincinnati region, namely branding, marketing and design.
Note: all applicants are considered for the P&G Fellowship, includes access to P&G mentors and paid pilot.
Where: Cincinnati, OH
Length: 17 weeks
What they’re looking for: Companies that can scale, are focused on consumers and see the value of treating the startup as a brand. Most interested in consumer internet, marketing SaaS, consumer services and products, and media and entertainment.
Access to: Mentorship, collaborative office space, legal assistance, marketing support, and companies like Procter & Gamble, dunnhumby and Kroger. Pitch investors and marketers at Demo Day.
Deal: $25k for 6% equity plus $25k in an uncapped convertible note
Application Deadline: April 16, 2016

Barclays FinTech Accelerator, operated by Techstars
What:  Accelerator focused on financial technology innovation and disruptive solutions.
Where: New York
Length: 13 weeks
What they’re looking for: Capabilities related to FinTech, including machine learning, lending, digital banking solutions, trading, cyber security, data analytics, payments, cryptocurrency, insurance, wealth management.
Access to: key decision makers at Barclays, mentoring from leading entrepreneurs and FinTech industry experts.
Deal: Up to $120k for 6% equity
Application Deadline: April 20, 2016

Intel Education Accelerator
What: Accelerator for edtech startups focused on K12 (will also consider higher-ed products and services).
Where: GSVlabs (Redwood City, CA)
Length: 4 months
What they’re looking for: edtech startups looking to grow from initial angel funding and a working beta product, with special consideration for companies focused on data analytics and adaptive learning.
Access to: edtech decision-makers and partners based on Intel Education’s relationships in 100+ countries, market insights from Intel Education, GSVlabs amenities.
Deal: Up to $100k for 6% equity
Application Deadline: April 22, 2016

Go Ignite
What: Led by an alliance of the innovation arms of Deutsche Telekom (hub:raum), Orange (Orange Fab), Singtel (Singtel Innov8), and Telefónica (Telefónica Open Future), Go Ignite will help up to 5 startups find business development opps, accelerate commercialization and scale their business outside their home market.
Where: Working space maintained by the alliance members (20+ countries).
Length: 6 months (for working space)
What they’re looking for: Growth-stage startups with a ready product that can be taken to market in geographies where alliance members operate. Product has to be in one of these focus areas: Internet of Things, Security, Big Data Analytics, Content Delivery or Customer Experience Enhancement.
Access to: Potential investment, mentoring, startup showcases and events, and the alliance members’ operating businesses and their collective customer base (1B+ customers across five continents).
Application Deadline: April 30, 2016

R/GA Connected Commerce Accelerator in partnership with Westfield Labs
What: Accelerator that seeks to advance the retail industry in the digital age. Program emphasizes opportunities for business development, pilots and partnerships with program partners and their networks. Program partners include Macy’s, Verizon, Bank of America Merchant Services and Shopify Plus.
Where: San Francisco
Length: 3 months
What they’re looking for: Growth-stage and early-stage startups across several interest areas.
Access to: R/GA office space in SF; 100+ mentors from program partners and their respective networks; partnership, distribution and strategic support from leading commerce and retail companies; product, brand and business-building from R/GA.
Deal: $120k for up to 5% equity
Application Deadline: May 23, 2016

Start-up Academy at Cannes Lions

Head to the Cannes Lions Festival in June and you’ll encounter thousands of top advertising and marketers leaders from 100 countries. Startups have an increasing presence at the festival, thanks to initiatives like R/GA’s Start-up Academy.

Lions Innovation Start-up Academy Program Director (and R/GA exec) Jonathan Bradley is looking for 1) international diversity and 2) growth-stage startups that can add real value to brands and/or advertisers (more details below).

To request an intro to Jonathan, ping and explain why your company is a great fit for the Start-up Academy.

What: Help 10 startups sharpen brand identity, focus business plans and market their products or services.
Where: Cannes, France
Length: Six days (June 19-24)
Access to: Intensive mentorship and an exclusive introduction to the community of leading creatives, senior marketers and high-level decision-makers that the Festival attracts.
What they’re looking for: Early, growth, or late stage companies with a working prototype and/or product in the market, who are looking to accelerate their growth through partnerships with consumer-focused brands and advertisers.
Deal: Accommodation and passes to Lions Innovation (June 21-22)
Application Deadline: April 24, 2016

VIDEO about Billion-dollar Disney-Sphero Partnership

KITE-SXSW-Sphero and Disney
Sphero CEO Paul Berberian shares how he met and partnered with the right people at Disney to create the toy version of new “Star Wars” droid BB-8. Watch it now.