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The power of startup partnerships

Comcast NBCUniversal offers accelerators, early-stage investments and access for founders building strategic innovations in connectivity, media, entertainment and sports.

Luke Butler, seated, in the Comcast NBCUniversal’s LIFT Labs team (Courtesy photo)

This article is sponsored by Comcast NBCUniversal LIFT Labs and was reviewed before publication. LIFT Labs is a Technical.ly Ecosystem Builder client.

Fueled by an entrepreneurial spirit since its beginning nearly 60 years ago, Comcast knows that innovation and inspiration can start anywhere, anytime.

With startups at the forefront of solving new challenges the world faces each day, the company engages with founders and early-stage technology companies in connectivity, media, entertainment and sports that can enhance the products that benefit customers and communities.

“We’re always looking to challenge the status quo of our products and processes,” said Danielle Cohn, VP of startup engagement and head of LIFT Labs at Comcast NBCUniversal. “We’re serious about working with founders to try new things and find net-new solutions for product innovation that positively impact the lives of our customers and employees. We learn from the startups as much as they learn from us.”

Today, Comcast provides opportunities for companies at every stage of the startup journey, through startup engagement programs such as Comcast NBCUniversal LIFT Labs for startups in media, entertainment and connectivity, and Comcast NBCUniversal SportsTech for startups changing the game in sports, technology and entertainment, in addition to offering capital and unique resources to startups through Comcast Ventures, the venture capital arm of the company that invests in early- to growth-stage companies that can shape the future of technology across a select set of themes.

Comcast offers a mix of educational resources; programming like its Live@LIFT conversation series featuring guests such as world-renowned organizational psychologist Adam Grant and New York Times bestselling author Cal Newport; hundreds of mentors across the business; and access to partners like NBC Sports, PGA TOUR and WWE — all alongside pilot programs and custom startup accelerators. Thus, founders are able to develop meaningful collaborations and have access to experts unlike with other corporations, which typically don’t offer this type of support.

Accelerator success

Both LIFT Labs and SportsTech have accelerator programs that support companies as they develop partnerships with Comcast, NBCUniversal, Sky and its partners. To date, the accelerator teams have made investments in 60+ pre-seed to seed stage tech companies and helped the companies raise more than $120 million.

Now in its fifth year, Comcast NBCUniversal’s LIFT Labs accelerator was developed specifically around the needs of entrepreneurs.

“We spent the first two years interviewing founders across the US, and Europe to find out what they were looking for from a corporate partnership,” Cohn said. “Everything we’ve developed has been based on those conversations — what founders need most and where we can add the most value.” Since then, the LIFT Labs team continues to travel the country on its annual accelerator recruitment roadshow and has also developed a City Tour, to gain insights directly from founders themselves.

In 2020, Comcast launched its second accelerator program, the Comcast SportsTech Accelerator, powered by Boomtown. The 12-week accelerator is for pre-seed to seed companies changing the competitive world of professional sports through technology and is built around developing relationships with partners in the industry.

“It’s not easy to crack into the sports ecosystem,” said Jenna Kurath, VP of startup partnerships and head of Comcast NBCUniversal SportsTech. “In our SportsTech program, you have access to our robust partner consortium of NBC Sports and Sky Sports, but also receive direct mentorship from our external partners at NASCAR, WWE, the PGA TOUR and others.”

Bringing companies into the Comcast ecosystem is key to these programs’ success. With partners across a variety of industries from technology to sports, Comcast’s startup engagement programs lead entrepreneurs into the heart of the industries they’re looking to shake up.

To date, more than 70% of the startups in the LIFT Labs accelerator have secured proofs of concept, paid pilots or commercial deals with Comcast, NBCUniversal and Sky. And since its inaugural class in 2021, SportsTech accelerator alumni have participated in 60 pilots and commercial deals with SportsTech partners.

Development, resources and investment

Comcast knows not every entrepreneur is looking for an accelerator program to help grow their ideas. That’s why it offers opportunities beyond accelerators to meet the unique needs of startups at every stage.

“We offer more than the space and resources to build your company — we lean into what we do well as a brand, which is to tell your story, elevate and amplify your work,” said Antonia Dean, director of startup pipeline diversity for Comcast Startup Engagement. “Through mentorship, we share our expertise and knowledge, and help you make meaningful connections with our partners. We’re looking for companies from all backgrounds that are tackling compelling problems with fascinating solutions.”

Additionally, the company has been investing in startups for over 20 years through Comcast Ventures, working with companies that strategically align with its businesses, from seed to Series A or B stages. However, Comcast aims for its value to be greater than any number on a check, bringing more to the table than just capital.

That hands-on commitment is why Comcast Ventures has grown its overall portfolio to 120 companies over 20 years. Today, Comcast Ventures is looking to work with startups that fit into its core focuses of proptech, fintech, healthcare, energy and the future of work.

“We are very active investors,” said Allison Goldberg, managing partner at Comcast Ventures. “We help founders with procuring follow up investments, recruitment, strategy, mergers and acquisitions and partnerships. At Comcast, you get the resources of a large company, such as technology expertise, sales and marketing support.”

Engage with Comcast

If you’re a founder interested in working with Comcast, check out the company’s programs and resources here.

Explore startup resources at Comcast

Companies: Comcast / NBCUniversal

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