The Walt Disney Company hosted its 2022 Disney Accelerator Demo Day on the Company’s historic Studio lot in Burbank Thursday, showcasing the six companies participating in this year’s Disney Accelerator program. The Demo Day presentation featured more than 15 senior executives from Disney in conversation with the founders of the select growth stage companies, as they discussed innovation and new technologies, and the impact they could have across the Company.
Demo Day is a celebration of the annual business development program designed to further the growth of leading-edge companies from around the world through collaboration with Disney’s executive and creative leadership teams.
“Since our founding nearly 100 years ago, Disney has brought iconic stories and characters to life in new and innovative ways, becoming part of the global culture and creating generations of memories for billions of people,” said Bob Chapek, CEO, The Walt Disney Company. “Walt himself believed that technology really was the key to making these stories come alive to create truly lasting, meaningful connections with his audience and turning storytelling into an experience. The Walt Disney Company has used technology to invent and reinvent nearly every aspect of entertainment, all in an effort to bring our audiences closer to the story. And that’s why we have selected the companies you’re going to hear from. Each of them is pioneering technology that we believe has the potential to help us reach more people and tell stories in new ways.”
Since launching the Accelerator in 2014, Disney has continued to collaborate with many of the Disney Accelerator participant companies to bring exciting products and new technologies to market.
“For nearly one hundred years, Disney has embraced cutting-edge technology to remain at the forefront of creative storytelling and deliver the most innovative entertainment experiences for audiences and guests around the world,” said Bonnie Rosen, general manager of the Disney Accelerator program. “This commitment to advancement is also an integral part of the Disney Accelerator, which allows us to collaborate with outstanding growth stage companies like those in this year’s class that share our desire to redefine the media landscape. We hope that Demo Day is just the beginning of our relationship with these companies, and we can’t wait to see the amazing things we could build together for Disney fans.”
The companies in this year’s program focus on a range of technologies in areas such as augmented reality (AR), non-fungible tokens (NFTs), and artificial intelligence (AI) virtual characters. The participants include:
Flickplay: Flickplay is a Web3 social app that enables users to discover digital collectibles tied to real-world locations that they can experience and share via AR. Flickplay is in conversations with Disney Consumer Products, Games and Publishing (CPGP) to create and deliver digital collectible activations within physical locations across the Unites States.
Inworld AI: Inworld allows users to create interactive, AI-driven characters for immersive experiences. During the presentation, Inworld announced that it is in conversations with ILMxLAB, Lucasfilm’s immersive storytelling studio, to build developer tools for creating characters at scale in immersive worlds. Additionally, Inworld is exploring the development of an AI personality for Disney Star’s DisneyStarverse platform. During Demo Day, Inworld demonstrated a “Droid Maker” prototype that the company created in collaboration with ILMxLAB.
Lockerverse: Lockerverse is a community platform that empowers creators and brands to tell culture-defining stories and deliver unique access and experiences. Lockerverse is working with ESPN to launch a free NFT of the Celebration Bowl Trophy, to be exclusively first offered at the Celebration Bowl on December 17 in Atlanta.
Obsess: Obsess is an experiential e-commerce platform that enables brands to create immersive 3D virtual stores on their websites and on Web3 platforms. In early October, Obsess launched the Disney Music Emporium virtual experience, an immersive online store celebrating the wonder of Disney music. Obsess is also in conversations with Disneyland Resort and shopDisney to create a special retail experience.
Polygon: Polygon is a business layer for blockchain technology that allows developers and enterprises to build Web3 experiences. Polygon is working with Disney on developing a proof of concept for exclusive digital collectibles to recognize Disney employees during special occasions.
Red 6: Red 6 is an AR company that has created a patented headset and interface that works outdoors in dynamic, high-performance environments. Walt Disney Imagineering and Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) are exploring opportunities to bring this technology into Disney’s story-driven environments for next generation experiences of the future.
“As a startup, it’s very difficult to reach the right people. Without this program, we would not be having the conversations we are having right now,” said Neha Singh, founder of Obsess. “It’s very focused on the collaboration with Disney teams and different divisions and startups, so it’s really perfect. Disney’s mission of storytelling, and our mission is, ‘How do we make brands tell their stories better?’ Brands have incredible stories, which today’s tools don’t allow them to really say. So, it’s a very natural fit for us to be working with a company that owns storytelling, essentially.”
Following the formal presentation, the Disney Accelerator brought Web3 to life on the Walt Disney Studios lot for attendees by showcasing exclusive demonstrations from the 2021 and 2022 Disney Accelerator companies, including life-sized versions of Disney’s most popular NFTs and a special Flickplay scavenger hunt that allowed attendees to find and interact with Disney digital collectibles.
For the first time, the previous year’s Disney Accelerator companies—who completed the program in an entirely virtual format—attended Demo Day and showcased their innovative technologies. These included startups with recent collaborations with The Walt Disney Company:
Attentive: Attentive is a comprehensive mobile messaging platform that allows retail and e-commerce brands to connect directly with consumers through personalized communication experiences. This summer, Attentive launched an opt-in experience to provide Disney guests a seamless opportunity to communicate with Disney Theatrical Productions via SMS and email through www.aladdinthemusical.com.
CAMP: CAMP creates experiential retail stores and online media destinations for the whole family. CAMP launched two collaborations with Disney this year, “Disney’s Mickey and Friends x CAMP: An Extra Big Adventure,” now in Dallas, while New York City families are enjoying the magical “Disney Encanto x CAMP” at its flagship store this holiday season. These immersive and interactive collaborations travel to other CAMP locations every few months.
Miko: Miko creates adorable robots that are playful learning companions for children, available across 140+ countries and utilized by parents, educators, and technologists. Earlier this year, Miko collaborated with Disney Publishing to launch animated storybooks featuring characters from the worlds of Disney and Pixar on its Miko 3 robot.