fitcauseEditor’s note: Nike Accelerator Spotlight takes a look at the ten startups participating in the Nike+ Accelerator, a three-month startup program based in Portland, Ore. and put on by Nike and TechStars. GeekWire is featuring each company leading up to the June 10 demo day. 

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FitCause founders and Matt Cantor and Laura Temel.

There are lots of benefits to exercise. It can help you shed pounds, relieve stress and just feel good.

Now a Nike Accelerator startup has a new way to let you feel even better about staying active: charitable donations.

New York City-based FitCause allows people to take quantified activity — literally any type of movement like taking the stairs or walking to work — and turn it into donations.

This reminds us of a bit of EveryMove, a Seattle-based startup that lets users track their healthy habits and rewards them with gift cards and reduced health-care premiums.

We caught up with Laura Temel, who created PadTies before co-founding FitCause with Matt Cantor. Read on to find out more about the startup and the abundance of tater tots in Portland.

Explain what you do so our parents can understand it: Think modern day walkathon, where you take your everyday motion, like walking or jogging, and turn it into a charitable donation. You do this by connecting your activity tracker, like a Nike+ FuelBand or pedometer, and creating individual missions or joining corporate sponsored events.

Inspiration hit us when: Training for the New York City Marathon. Marathons, triathlons and other fitness fundraising events are great at bringing together a community, but they are limited to specific days and are often exclusive to endurance athletes. With the growth of activity trackers, FitCause is democratizing this fundraising space. Now the fundraising event lives on your wrist.

How do you plan on using the Nike+ platform and NikeFuel?: FitCause is currently driven by the Nike+ Fuel activity metric. Any individual that has a Nike+ Fuel device (FuelBand, Nike+ Running App, Nike+ Sportswatch, etc.) will be able to create and participate in a FitCause Mission. We will be expanding to include other devices and fitness applications in the future.

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Who will use your product?: The great thing about FitCause is that anyone who has an activity tracker will be able to use it. Similar to Nike’s mantra “If you have a body, you are an athlete,” FitCause is excited by the notion that anyone with an activity tracker can give back to a cause they are passionate about, simply through their everyday motion. nikefuelice

The smartest move we’ve made so far: Participating in the Nike+ Accelerator has been an incredible opportunity that has propelled our product and company to levels that seemed unattainable only months ago. We have a lot of momentum going into the June Demo days – stay tuned, more FitCause news coming soon!

Would you rather have Gates, Jobs, Zuckerberg or Bezos in your corner?: It would have to be Bill Gates because we would love to partner with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Their generosity and commitment to make an impact on the world is truly inspiring.

Rivals should fear us because: We’ve been friends since 2006. We work great together, we’re efficient, and we’re fierce Fuel competitors.

We are truly unique because: There are some competitors which link running or cycling to a donation. The work that they are doing is admirable, but they are limiting users to those who run or cycle. With FitCause, everyday motion can be converted into a donation. Now simple actions like taking the stairs, walking to work, or grooving in a Zumba class can have a charitable meaning.

What’s the one piece of advice you’d give to other entrepreneurs just starting out: Enjoy the journey. People get so focused on the end goal, they sometimes forget how valuable the process itself is.   

Inside the Nike+ Accelerator office in Portland.
Inside the Nike+ Accelerator office in Portland.

The greatest tech-related invention in sports is: We believe that as quantified self technology becomes truly mainstream, the awareness and measurement that comes with it will inspire people to improve themselves like never before.

Our favorite sports-related app/platform right now is: Nike Running App is our go-to.

Your first impressions of Portland are: Tater Tots — for some reason every Portland restaurant seems to have Tots on the menu (We aren’t complaining). But really, we are in love with Portland. It is a long way from our base of New York City, but we are having a blast exploring a new city and taking advantage of everything that Pacific Northwest has to offer.

Previously on GeekWire: Portland just isn’t where young people go to retire: It’s where they get their VC money, too

Past Nike Accelerator Spotlights: GoRecess helps you find, book classes

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