Turner Hosts Summer Boot Camp for Media Startups


Turner Broadcasting System is trying to build a better startup — with an initiative that’s more like a buddy system than a traditional strategic investment.

This summer, the programmer held its first 12-week Media Camp accelerator program with six startups selected from more than 100 applicants. “We wanted to learn from them and potentially influence them,” Turner senior director of emerging technology David Austin said.

Turner put $20,000 into each company (”just a little bit to help them through the 12-week period,” Austin said) and picked its own execs to act as mentors, helping the startups hone their ideas and technologies. The Media Camp agenda also included mixers and workshops on branding and other topics.

Each of the six Media Camp startups incorporate some aspect of social media or content discovery. SocialSamba, for example, lets users “friend” their favorite fictional characters to follow scripted social experiences, while Matcha created a personalized video-tracking service.

Turner’s CNN is already a paying customer of one of the Media Campers: The news network’s website tapped the user-generated content management application from Chute to aggregate photos snapped by its reporters at the Democratic and Republican conventions.

The Media Camp will culminate in a demo day this Thursday (Sept. 13) in San Francisco, featuring presentations by the startups before an audience of venture capitalists, press and other media companies.

Turner’s ultimate goal is to turn interesting concepts into marketable products faster, according to Austin, previously a 17-year Apple veteran: “One of the hardest things for a startup to do is to get traction with a big media company.”

The other three Media Camp startups are: Showbucks, which develops “fun and engaging apps that combine social video with social games”; Socialize, which is creating a social platform that can predict user intent by mapping an interest graph across users and content; and Switchcam, a developer that creates interactive video experiences that let viewers “direct the show” and syncs fan-shot video with professional footage.


Programming Note: Get a read on the future of multiscreen TV at our two events this month — TV’s Cloud Power, this Thursday (Sept. 13) in New York City; and the Next TV Summit, Sept. 20 in San Francisco.