Tag Archives: disney

Disney Is Launching Its Own Startup Accelerator, With Help From Techstars


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The Walt Disney Company is getting into the startup incubator business with the launch of a new program called the Disney Accelerator.

Disney says it’s looking for 10 “early-stage companies with innovative consumer media and entertainment product ideas.” Those startups will receive a $120,000 investment and mentorship from the tech and entertainment industry, as well as from leaders in various Disney divisions (including Pixar, Marvel, Lucasfilm, ESPN, and Walt Disney Imagineering), not to mention Disney CEO Bob Iger.

The company describes the program as “powered by Techstars.” (Other companies that have partnered with Techstars for their own startup accelerators include Barclays, Microsoft, and Sprint.) Kevin Mayer, Disney’s executive vice president of corporate development, told me via email that the organizations are “working hand in hand,” with Techstars bringing its accelerator experience and Disney offering its executives, intellectual property, and other resources.

I asked Mayer whether the Disney Accelerator’s goals are primarily financial or strategic, and he said, “This is about identifying and mentoring start-ups with innovative ideas that could help transform the media and entertainment business.” He also pointed to Disney’s history of “firsts.”

“By way of example, in 1928, Disney launched the first cartoon with fully synchronized sound,” Mayer said. “In 1932 it premiered the first full-color cartoon. In 1937 came the first animated feature film and in 1955 the first modern theme park was opened. We have also been leaders in entertainment technology development with inventions like the multiplane camera, audio-animatronics, circle-vision 360° and Fantasound. I see Disney Accelerator as an extension of this legacy and a new way of bringing together the creative energies of the media/entertainment and start-up communities to inspire innovation.”

A more recent sign of Disney’s interest in the tech world was its appointment of Jack Dorsey, co-founder of Twitter and Square (he’s chairman at the former company and CEO at the latter), to its board of directors, where he joined Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and former Sybase CEO John S. Chen.

The accelerator will be based in Los Angeles. Applications are due by April 16, with the program scheduled to begin on June 30 and an investor demo day planned for September.

http://techcrunch.com/2014/02/12/disney-accelerator/

Jack Dorsey Joins Disney’s Board Of Directors … Congratulations @Jack !


Posted 4 hours ago by (@anthonyha)
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The Walt Disney Company just announced that Jack Dorsey (co-founder and CEO of Square, as well co-founder and chairman at Twitter, as if you didn’t know) has joined its board of directors.

“Jack Dorsey is a talented entrepreneur who has helped create groundbreaking new businesses in the social media and commerce spaces,” said Disney CEO Robert A. Iger in the release. “The perspective he brings to Disney and its Board is extremely valuable, given our strategic priorities, which include utilizing the latest technologies and platforms to reach more people and to enhance the relationship we have with our customers.”

The company’s tech bets in the past few years have included the acquisition of gaming companies Tapulous and Playdom. But presumably Disney’s interest in technology goes beyond any one area of the company.

keep reading -> http://techcrunch.com/2013/12/23/jack-dorsey-joins-disney/

 

7 Reasons Every Entrepreneur Should go to Disney


How to foster the magical success of Walt Disney.

 

The “Magic” of the magic kingdom isn’t brought on through the fantasy or the incredible stories, it’s brought on through the meticulous attention to detail. 

Walt Disney was a creator, a beautifully wacky creator. He made some of the most influential universes to our early years, and that of our kids.

Going to Disney might sound like a thing that should be reserved to do once you have kids, or while you are a kid.

It’s not.

I want to honestly buy season passes just so I can go there to meditate, analyze and take in all of the entrepreneurial genius that pours through every stone in the kingdom.

Walt was a visionary, he was a creative, he was a mentor to our hearts, but more relevant — he was an unmistakably brilliant entrepreneur.

He created an empire from a pencil.

There are now snippets of his interviews projected on the castle he created in the center of the “Magical Kingdom” every night at 10pm.

From a pencil and paper to a literal castle, built by stone — to stories brought to life and intangible feelings brought to visible creation.

This is the genius of Walt Disney.

Here are the 7 reasons that you should go to Disney, the 7 principles that you will undoubtably notice and if you pay attention, how you should apply them to your business.


1. Execution 

From the stones of the cinderella castle down to the pixels of the projections in the finale showing every night — the execution in this park is flawless.

Typically when you go to a park like this, you expect to see some rough edges, some cracks in the stucco, some dry-rotted wood or at least some dirty side walks. Not in Disney though. Interestingly enough, in the #1 tourist destination in the world there is not a dash of inconsistency. Every ride is pristine, the way the lines flow through makes an hour wait feel like 20 minutes. The entertainment value you get while simply sitting in line is more than most parks offer in their rides combined.

2. Attention to detail

There are plenty of examples to choose from to embody the attention to detail carried in this park, but here are some of the main ones.

  1. The way lines are curved and go behind walls to break up the wait, keeping you unable to see the “front of the line” so psychologically it doesn’t feel like the line is too long. It’s like a well thought-out form.
  2. The layout of the park, flows in an easy way to let you get from one side to another easily without feeling like you’ve missed anything in the process. There is always a different route to take to see something new.
  3. Each story has it’s own elements, in a remarkably unscalable way. Each side of the park has entirely different structural makeups than the next. Down to the way electrical sockets look, the way the shops are built, the attire that the “cast members” in the different “worlds” wear. Everything is custom suited for the individual experience.
  4. Every minot detail of every ride has been meticulously designed to have the utmost accuracy to the setting. On the “Pirates of the Caribbean” ride, the plastic leg of the pirate hanging his feet over the bridge you go under has hair on it, and has muddy feet. They could have left it at a plastic leg, we would have got the point — but they didn’t it’s that extra step in every aspect that makes the park feel more like a Mac than a Toshiba.

Every ounce of this park has been meticulously designed with a remarkable attention to detail. It puts you in that frame of mind much like an Apple Store does. But the sheer enormity of the park and the scope of that design is awe-inspiring. Everything is planned out, there is no “yeah, that’ll do” anywhere. It’s just how it should be, because it was planned to be so.

3. Feedback

The feedback. Disney lives off of the feedback. It’s absolutely anal about incremental improvement, and it shines through in their flawless execution. It’s why they have such incredible execution, everything can be improved. That’s the mindset.

Cast members” are walking around carrying iPads with their own system running asking customers if they would please give some real-time feedback on the ride or shop they just came from.

We were sitting outside of Le Fou’s shop after getting one of the most extraordinary slushies I’ve ever tasted, and an amazing cinnamon roll & coffee and a cast member walked over to ask us if he could take a quick survey. We didn’t mind and I was curious so I went ahead and took it. He asked us how the food was from the specific venue, if we would recommend it to friends (amazing to the first, yes to the second) and to top it off, “if there was anything less than incredibly satisfying about the experience we just had.” Usually I would have said, “it was great!” But the wording got to me, “if there was anything less than incredibly satisfying.” This made me actually think rather than brush it off, I responded “yeah, I guess the cashiers weren’t ushering people forward as well as they could have been.” He said okay, great! Thanks!

I watched him walk in and show the survey results to the people behind the counter, who instantly started to usher people forward faster. I was astounded. Had he just said “was everything alright?” I would have said yes, and that been that. The way he asked gave me a psychological urgency to help, I gave him what I saw, then he instantly relayed it to the party at hand which instantly improved the service for everyone else going through there that day. It was remarkable.

The experience taught me of applying real-time feedback, and how even at a brick-and-mortar location that’s been around since the 60′s, this kind of feedback can be applied to instantly improve their service.

It’s mind-boggling how some startups can’t apply infrastructure changes on the fly like a fully established theme-park can. It’s unacceptable, so change it.

4. Experience

“Plussing” is a thing that you will notice a lot right off-the-cuff in Disney. Plussing is the art of making things bigger, better, more extravagant through simple communication, or psychology, or even through brick and mortar. Plussing is Disney’s guide to creating a more in-tune experience, where people feel not like they’re visiting a “park” but that they’re having an enchanted experience.

By saying “the Magical Kingdom” and “Where your dreams can come true” makes it really feel that way. Had it not been said, would you really feel the same way? I doubt it. Perhaps if all of the other elements are there, but without this “Plussing” drive towards experience, the rest surely wouldn’t.

Simply by calling staff members “cast members” instead, it sets up a feeling that you’re involved in a larger production. Like you’re in a movie, rather than on a trolley to the front-gate of a theme park.

The thought that everything can be improved, that everything can be “plussed” is something that every entrepreneur should carry over. We don’t have to be a slave to normal conventions, it’s our creation, make it extravagant.

Instantly once you get into this mindset (which you surely will moments after arriving) you will start pointing out parts where they could improve (if you can find any), where you are essentially giving them the information to “plus” themselves, just because they gave you their mindset.

I noticed immediately that (due to so many kids around) staff members were asking their parents to “please ‘supervise’ their kids”. When I heard this it got me thinking, that that word, “supervise” didn’t fit with everything else. That doesn’t sound like an experience for the parent, it sounds like a job. I said to my girlfriend that instead they should say “please ‘enjoy’ your kids” — which carries an entirely different psychological state. Instead of it feeling like a job, it feels like a joy. You want to “enjoy” your kid, this is for them usually after all, so why not? Telling people to “enjoy” their kids will put a smile on their face and they will happily pay more attention to them, which achieves the goal in the first place.

Getting into this state of mind will bring hundreds of things to light in every business you experience after, and undoubtably in your own.

5. Targeting

Walt Disney was a man of vision. He loved kids and loved stories, he loved creating and he loved writing. He wanted his visions to come to life and make a difference in people’s lives. He was mainly influenced by kids, and more over how he could positively influence kids and setting principles through stories that every kid could understand, and subconsciously replicate.

This was Walt Disney’s target, kids. But more in-depth, kid’s hearts and minds. He wanted to have kids imaginations come to life. To inspire them to be better through story, but to also take them on an adventure of the mind.

This was something no one else was doing at the time. The target market was so un-competitive that he instantly became the un-disputed leader. No one had done animation in the same scope, which could live on long after he was gone.

Whether through planning or not, what Walt stumbled on was much larger than influencing kids. He influenced the hearts of adults too. He knew that adults (like himself) had a keen sense of nostalgia that could instantly relate to the work he was creating. That parents would want their kids watching the work he made, and that if parents were raising their kids with these messages, future generations would be raised with them, because that’s what their parent’s were raised with.

By appealing to the inherent nostalgia within us all, Walt Disney insured a legacy — practically an animated empire — that will continue to carry on (and has) long after he has died.

6. Batching

Batching time, money and experiences is done perfectly at Disney. You pay at the gate for pretty much everything you will need throughout the rest of the park. You pay for you pass, which will let you get fast passes & ride any ride for the entire day (which if you decide to upgrade to a season pass will count as a gift card towards that purchase).

The main time allotment is before getting into the park. Disney has the largest parking lot of any location in the USA, so once you park you get on a trolley that takes you to the front gate, you pay then the monorail (Disney’s internal train system) takes you to the actual park you’re looking to visit. Once you get off of this, you have spent all of the time that you’re going to be at an absolute standstill.

By “batching” these things, it makes all other experiences past this point an absolute refreshment, and it relieves the mind to experience everything more in depth, rather than worrying about individual rides, where to go or what to do. Your mind is left to wonder because no matter where you go there will be an experience waiting for you.

The funny thing is, because you’ve had such a batch amount of time and money at the start, the rest of the waiting or expenses seem minuscule in scope (though they really aren’t). This is why “batching” is so important.

Image representing The Walt Disney Company as ...

Image via CrunchBase

7. Intuitive interaction

The layout of the park, flows in an easy way to let you get from one side to another easily without feeling like you’ve missed anything in the process. There is always a different route to take to see something new.

The “fast pass” machines, giving you one ticket to come back at an allotted time to go through the quick lane, all you have to have is your credit card-like front gate pass to punch in. Once you’ve used that fast-pass or the time has expired, you can get another. This allows you to grab a fast pass for the long lines, run to the shorter lined rides, then come back to the big-daddy rides like Space Mountain. It’s a no brainer, just like any good design should be. It’s not extra, you don’t pay for it, it helps with the flow of the park and adds to the excitement, knowing that soon you will be able to fly through a line to the best rides in the park! It’s like a freemium product without having to pay extra. It makes you forget that you just paid $100 to get in the park for a day.


The real beauty can’t be expressed in words, it has to be experienced. 

This is the magic of it — at least to me — that this world has been built around an experience, and an experience can’t be laid out in nouns, verbs and adjectives, it actually has to be experienced.

I implore every entrepreneur to go to Disney, if you have kids, take them (it’s a perfect excuse). Analyze everything, soak it all in. I’m sure you will find relations that you can apply to your business and make your practices better.

Walt Disney was a genius, as a creator, as a designer, as a writer and as an entrepreneur.

If there is one thing I took away from Disney, it’s this.

The magical kingdom is so magical because it means something different to everyone that experiences it, but it always has a huge impact.

 

 

Written by

Marketer, blogger, and creative. Startup, design & self-improvement enthusiast. A self-critic and hopeful optimist. Consultant for hire.  —  @snsmth

Published December 11, 2013

 

 

The Brave and the Bold


This post was originally shared on my tumblr in May of 2013. I repost it here in case it is useful to anyone.

I recently posted a link on Facebook to this petition regarding the redesign of Merida from Brave that Disney is reportedly doing to include her in the Disney Princess line and I got this response.

“I don’t get the hoopla over this. Apart from wearing a different outfit and being drawn by a different artist, I don’t really see a difference. Is it that a woman without a weapon is weak?”

Character design matters.

If there’s one thing the character design class I took in college stressed more than anything else it’s that a good character design informs the viewer who the character is, what they are like. What they wear, how they stand, how they do their hair, the shape of their face, their standard expressions, what they carry with them, these are all vital decisions in a good design.

Few have embraced this philosophy more wholeheartedly than Disney. Take a look at some of these designs and think about how well the designer conveys the basic concepts of the character through the design alone.

image source
image source
image source

Disney knows how to do this and their choices are deliberate. A misstep in the design of a character can make the difference between one that is marketable and one that is not. That’s extremely important to Disney, and a task that they do not treat cavalierly. If you have to sum up the character in just one image, like you often have to do with marketing materials or toys, qualities like the ones listed above are the only tools you have.

Artistic Interpretations

The argument that a character always looks somewhat different when a different artist draws them doesn’t apply when you’re talking about Disney. If you think I’m wrong, think of how many drawings you’ve seen Disney publish of Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Aladdin, or Woody that look exactly like they did in the movies. While things like comics have some leeway to veer off model a bit, marketing materials need to match as closely as possible to key images and are scrutinized by Disney for inaccuracies. I’ve had friends who have drawn licensed properties professionally and, in general, if you aren’t able to keep your drawing “on model” you aren’t going to keep working on the project. The point being that the changes in the design of Merida were most likely not a decision made by an individual artist on a whim, but something that Disney has signed off on.

 

Read more – > https://medium.com/this-could-be-better/9366f8a34e77

 

Make your content count.


Be the Man with the Golden Gun, not Rambo.

Image representing The Walt Disney Company as ...

Image via CrunchBase

 

When I was working at Disney I got a lot of emails from interested writers. My creative group didn’t have a recruiter so people trying to get into Yellow Shoes would scour the web and end up finding me. “Hey! I’m a young writer, you’re a young writer, help me get in!” I get that a lot even now that I’ve left Disney. As a guy that’s had to fight to get a job (a few times) I never minded helping. I would comb books, groom resumes and even run an interview or two. After all of those interactions the one thing I learned hard and fast is that sometimes we say/show too damn much.

Have you ever found yourself on an interview, a date or just talking out loud when you start spilling words you shouldn’t have said? You look down on that verbal vomit and the blood rushes to your cheeks because whatever you said just made you look like a jackass. Well let me tell you that happens in your work more than you’ll ever know.

When I started my career I’d talk about my work for a solid fifteen minute minimum. I was arrogant. I thought the people I was talking with had seen my work and maybe even cared. They didn’t and they don’t. I would expose myself with wordy detail and an open thought process. The more I explained the more convoluted everything became, my well thought out creative would lose attention and great concepts would get scrapped fast. Then one day at my keyboard I had an epiphany, bare all and talk less.

Walt Disney giving the dedication day speech J...

Walt Disney giving the dedication day speech July 17, 1955. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Great work speaks for itself. Good writing is one half and good design is the other. Two goods usually make a great. I reworked my portfolio to focus on short lines, big concepts and attractive designs. I started presenting with a focus on final product, never process. I’d walk into interviews, drop my resume and spit only the best work and the biggest names. Suddenly I was talking less, getting asked more and watching fewer of my projects fall flat.

source

Read more – > https://medium.com/writers-on-writing/b2f3dd062e0d

 

 

 

WORTHY OF AWARDS


The Chicago Innovation Awards – Part 3

John Jonelis

Time Share Gulfstream JetI’ve jumped aboard a Gulfstream G450 to interview the legendary Loren Bukkett. I want his take on the Chicago Innovation Awards. He finally puts away his phone and turns to me. “Okay, let’s talk,” he says.

I take that to mean he’s already finalized all the deals that peaked his interest. Nice to have a large staff to handle the details. But here in the jet cabin, it’s just Loren, his wife Aussy, and me.

Aussy is doing some form of shorthand on a tablet computer. That woman hasn’t spoken since I climbed in the plane. Maybe Loren asked his wife to keep it buttoned. Maybe he wants to control what information gets out. At this point, I’m afraid to ask her a direct question. I even wonder if this is their secret strategy to keep outsiders off balance. If so, it’s working.

They give out so many honors at the Chicago Innovation Awards tonight that I can’t keep it all straight. So much glitz and pizzazz. Jumbo screen. Music. Entertainment. Applause. Streaming internet content. I appreciate the way they present a standardized set of videos to highlight the mission of each winner. A professional job and it moves things along nicely. With sponsors like Disney, Comcast, and Wrigley, they can afford to do it right.

Chicago Innovation Awards

Chicago Innovation Awards – jaj

I pull out my notes. “Let’s do the ‘Up-and-Comer’ category first.” I proceed to read off the list but Loren waves me to a halt.

“We’ll do it my way,” he says. And he goes on to tell me about every company that won an award at that event. He does it in depth. No notes. No prompts. At his age, that kind of memory astounds me.

“Now John, keep in mind that for twelve years, every company with an award from this group is a success. And there are a lot of them. That’s impressive and gives an old investor like me a feeling of confidence. Of course my people check out these companies in depth, but you can’t help but come away with some degree of certainty—a belief deep down that every one of them will find a way to make it.”

“You said they’ll break that perfect record this year.”

“That’s the awards to those two politicos, not the companies. No as I see it, what we have here is a large pool of opportunity. I already set some wheels in motion. Don’t ask me which ones.” He clasps his hands behind his neck and leans back. “When you get to be my age, you either turn into a curmudgeon or you win back some of that idealism you enjoyed as a youth. These days, a big part of my strategy includes companies that are doing-well-by-doing-good. I saw a few tonight. One of them is BriteSeed.

I nod. “I saw them pitch earlier in the year—at BNC I think. They made a big impression on me.” I splash three fingers of his excellent Hennessy into each of our snifters. Maybe the combination of spirits and altitude will keep him loose.

“It’s a hot sector,” he says. “Their SafeSnipstm technology could be life-saving. Imagine it on a large scale. No more surgical accidents. Billions of dollars saved.” He leans toward me and lowers his voice. “Keep your eye on Northwestern Global Health and their rapid HIV diagnosis. And Recall-Connect built an automated system to match defective medical implants with patients. No more wading through reams of paper files. Medline came out with an anti-viral face mask. Preventing disease is real attractive to me, but this one’s a family company, so…”

“No need for investors?”

“We’ll wait and see. My only concern with Feeding America is scalability. But they won the Social Innovator Award so people need to take that group seriously—very seriously. Any way we can fight hunger, we oughta do it.” He gingerly takes a tiny sip of his cognac as if he’s already had enough to drink. “I’m interested in the People’s Choice Awards winner,” he says. A little company, New Futura, wants to help Latinos achieve the American dream. Naturally I’m attracted to those kinda offerings. Then there’s Moneythink helping high school kids with their careers. That’s about it for the do-gooders.”

“What about Belly?”

He pauses a moment, pats his stomach, then grins. “That’s another hot sector. That company is off and running in 10 markets with half a million customers already. I’m sure they’ll do well. But I’m not in the mobile app or social media space.”

“Doesn’t that limit your exposure to startups?”

“That it does, John. That it does.” He takes another tiny sip of cognac. “Anymore,” he says, in his Midwestern idiom, “Anymore there’s so much money chasing mobile. So many new startups and only a few will pay off. The good ones get bid-up. Way too high for my liking. New York, Boston—all those great centers for venture capital are in love with mobile and social media. Maybe it’s good for Silicon Valley but it doesn’t fit my strategy. That’s why I come to Chicago. Of course I make exceptions.”

“Do you see a bubble?”

“Well, you always need to keep that in mind. For me it’s more a problem of value.”

Anybody that follows Loren Bukkett knows that deep value is his favorite strategy. Then he shifts gears. “Do you know anything about NuMat Technologies?

That catches me off-guard. “Some. I saw them present at the MIT Whiteboard Challenge. Seems like a winner to me but with so many great offerings, the judges at that event looked elsewhere. Do you think the technology is practical? Can they actually store and transport natural gas in bulk the way they suggest?”

“Keep your eye on them,” he says. And suddenly I wish my investment portfolio could stretch that far.

“And Coyote helps trucking avoid dead runs by sharing between companies. That’s the same thinking that put you and me on this beautiful jet. I like that business model.”

He takes more from his snifter and my hopes of getting him to comment on the awards to the governor and mayor are one step closer to reality. “1871,” he says. “That is without a doubt the most significant incubator I’ve come across. They made up their minds to do it right. 50,000 square feet with an option to double. Three universities keep offices there. Venture capitalists too. A successful startup from Northwestern keeps two big rooms to teach folks to code in new languages. Lots and lots of aspiring companies—and you gotta pass their standards to get in! This is one of the new hybrids—part incubator, part accelerator. Most of their companies are outside my investment horizons but every one of them is highly interesting. It must be a great resource for you.”

“Sure, I’ve been there a number of times. They run a lot of events and always invite the community. If they expand, I may take an office there. What’s your opinion on Options City?”

Loren lifts his feet back to the tabletop. “That one hopes to cure a sore point of mine. They want to help the little guy fight back against high frequency trading syndicates. We’re talking trading in-and-out in nanoseconds. Nowadays these guys own 70% or more of the volume on most of the exchanges. And naturally, the exchanges reciprocate by giving them the same privileges as market makers. But they don’t carry any responsibility like market makers. Or risk. They don’t make orderly markets. No, they hit and run. They’re speculators. Why should they get the first look at all the trades?  It’s all driven by greed on the part of the exchanges. I think it should be illegal.”

I’m leaning forward and nodding vigorously. “It’s the High Freaks that changed my approach to trading. I had to slow my timing way down and widen my stops—take on more risk.”

“Well alotta people are going broke because of it. These operations spend upwards of $100,000 a month for the fastest hookup and shortest wire to the exchanges and then run everything by computer algorithm. This new company wants to level the playing field.”

“Can they do it?”

“The jury is still out.”

Loren talks another twenty minutes to cover it all. Food Genius, mentormob, and mobcart, all leverage the Internet to aggregate information and communication. Cummins Allison of all people is selling a document scanner for banks. Borealis makes a light that takes 90% less energy and lasts 30 years.

That leaves Bright Tag, Catamaran, Littelfuse, and SMS Assist. An impressive event in execution, scope, and promise.  It amazes me that so many fine businesses are right here in Chicago.  All they need to succeed is a boost in the economy. 

We clink glasses. “So Loren, I still want to talk in-depth about the awards to the governor and mayor.”

He flashes me a dirty look.

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Continue to Part 4

Go back to Part 1

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Find Chicago Venture Magazine at www.ChicagoVentureMagazine.com Comments and re-posts are welcomed and encouraged. This is not investment advice – do your own due diligence. I cannot guarantee accuracy but I give you my best.
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Copyright © 2012 John Jonelis – All Rights Reserved

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