Nike and TechStars Betting Big on Gamification and the Quantified Self for...

Nike and TechStars Betting Big on Gamification and the Quantified Self for 10 New Startups


Nike+ and TechStars Fitness Startup Accelerator Investing Big on Gamification 

If you weren’t sure where the future of fitness technology was heading towards, let the 10 winners of TechStars’ new Nike+ fitness startup accelerator give you a clue: it’s going to be all about gamification and the quantified self.

Nike and TechStars first announced the launch of their digital fitness startup accelerator program in December 2012 to find startups that will help people lead more active lives. As of yesterday, they have officially picked the 10 lucky startups that will participate in their inaugural 3 month class. Each startup will receive $20,000 in funding, a workspace, and mentorship from big names like Foursquare Co-founder Naveen Selvadurai, TechStars founder David Cohen, and Nike’s VP of digital sport, Stegan Olander. TechStars will receive a 6% stake in equity of each of the companies in exchange for their support.

According to FastCompany, the ten participating startups will be:

  • FitDeck: Digital decks of exercise cards that provide a variety of changing workouts
  • GoRecess: An online service for finding, booking, and reviewing local fitness activities
  • CoachBase: A digital platform for coaches to share, distribute, and manage coaching plays
  • HighFive: Ad network for health and fitness apps that rewards users for healthy behaviors
  • Sprout at Work: Corporate wellness solution that uses social and gamification mechanics to inspire employee wellness
  • GeoPalz: Family gaming platform to reward physical activity for kids and parents
  • RecBob: Online platform for organizing recreational sports

It is immediately apparent that 6/10 of the companies listed have gamification centered in their design and given that all of these startups will be given access to the Nike+ API (meaning access to GPS data, distance, pace, Nike Fuel, and running data) it can be surmised that the remaining 4/10 will be designing their services around leveraging Nike+’s host of powerful features for quantification and gamification.

The common thread among these ten companies is that they all offer some way to make physical access more convenient and desirable — something being attempted by essentially every health and wellness service to make exercise easier.

What doesn’t exist in the market right now is a true universal fitness platform that works across services and devices. Nike+ could make a huge powerplay right now by enabling all of these Nike+ connected startups to be able to have one user’s data apply to all the services connected to the Nike+ API?

If my personal FuelBand score started to influence my rewards, my corporate wellness status with Sprout at Work, and even my family activity with GeoPalz, it significantly raises the meaning of the quantification taking place with each of these services on the Nike+ API. That type of total immersion coupled with Nike+’s massive userbase will be a huge disruption to the entire health industry.

Whether or not Nike decides to take these steps won’t be known until the Summer. I’ve stopped using my FuelBand for many months now (here’s why) but if those Fuel points began to count towards a number of different services with varying, meaningful rewards, hell that really does make life a bigger game.


Need help with behavioral science and gamification? Get in touch with our boutique consulting agency Dopamine.


  1. This is awesome! Great to see a brand like Nike recognising the need for distributed/outside-in innovation and initiating startup accelerator programs on a wide scale!