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Editor’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. Check out past Spotlights below. 

As technology becomes more prevalent in today’s world, seeing kids with smartphones and toddlers playing on their iPads is becoming a common sight. At the very same time, though, electronic device use has had an influence on skyrocketing obesity rates in this country.

geopalzThe founders at GeoPalz realized this and came up with a win-win solution.

Started in 2010 by three parents, the Boulder, Colo.-based startup offers pedometers that track activity for children and allows them to earn points that can be exchanged for gifts. The company added to its product line earlier this year with its iBitz family activity monitors that use BlueTooth low energy (BLE) to sync with smartphones. iBitz also acts as a gaming peripheral for kids to help motivate them to exercise.

“To us, having children use the iBitz product is the greatest reward, as we want more than anything for them to lead healthy lifestyles and have fun being active,” co-founder Rich Schmelzer said.

The GeoPalz team previously sold its Jibbitz startup to Crocs for $10 million. We caught up with them to learn more about their newest venture.

Explain what you do so our parents can understand it: We’ve all seen a significant increase in our children’s technology use, especially over the past few years. With parents and children it often becomes a fight between getting active and using their devices. We decided to embrace our children’s love for technology with the iBitz PowerKey, allowing children to get active, yet still allowing them to play with their favorite gadgets. For parents, our Unity App can also see if their kids have been sitting on the couch all day and if so, suggest that the kids join an athletic group or league to get active.

geopalz21
GeoPalz can be attached anywhere to track steps.

Inspiration hit us when: We thought, wouldn’t it be cool to power their mobile devices and content with physical activity, and from there iBitz was born! A gaming peripheral and online rewards platform.

Our “secret sauce” is: We are not only a safe environment for kids, with our COPPA compliance online platform, but we have also created a kid friendly gaming peripheral that harnesses their physical activity which can be converted into coins that can be spent on games, unlock devices, and even earn them physical goods.

The iBitz Unity app not only syncs with some of your favorite household devices, including their Nike+ FuelBand, but parents can see minute by minute data on the entire family!

How do you plan on using the Nike+ platform and NikeFuel?: The opportunity to integrate with Nike FuelBand and Nike+ technologies strengthens our ability to offer a complete suite of fitness products for children, teens and adults. The ability to track fitness levels, engage users, and reward each family member through one integrated platform, creates the quantified family experience that our users have been requesting.  

Who will use your product?: To us, having children use the iBitz product is the greatest reward, as we want more than anything for them to lead healthy lifestyles and have fun being active. Our greater goal is to have all families using the iBitz Powerkey and the iBitz Unity as a way of making decisions to maintain physical activity.

geopalz2The biggest mistake we’ve made so far: Ha! We have made many mistakes and will continue to make more along the way. Can’t really weight one greater than the other, but it has definitely been a long learning process.

The smartest move we’ve made so far: The smartest thing we have done so far was our decision to apply to the Nike+ Accelerator program, powered by Techstars. It is an incredible program with access to such high quality mentors that have such generous hearts.

Would you rather have Gates, Jobs, Zuckerberg or Bezos in your corner?: Jobs. Because he is the ultimate American entrepreneur!

nike_acceleratorWould you rather have Michael Jordan, Muhammed Ali or Tiger Woods in your corner: Michael Jordan. He is an inspiration to young athletes and represents the epitome of hard work. He has shown the ability to never give up despite many obstacles and even rejection. He was cut from his high school basketball team, yet went on to be one of the best athletes to play in the NBA. I mean who doesn’t want to see someone dunk from the free throw line! They don’t call him Air Jordan for nothing.

Rivals should fear us because: We think that we offer a unique approach by creating a Bluetooth Low Energy device that has the power to unlock content, awards, and even devices in a safe COPPA compliant fashion.

We are truly unique because: We are truly unique as the creators of the first decorative pedometer for kids. By introducing the iBitz PowerKey for children and iBitz Unity for parents to our suite of products, we are able to offer incentives for the entire family at an affordable price. By incorporating the iBitz Unity for parents, it allows them to monitor their family health wirelessly, all in one place. The adult app tracks steps, distance, weight, height, overall physical activity and body mass index (BMI) for the entire family. Unity users can also create groups outside of the family, such as a running group and can share with Friends for extra motivation.

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

What’s the one piece of advice you’d give to other entrepreneurs just starting out: Make it, test it, test it, test it…with real people and then improve on it! And accept the fact that you will fail along the way, and be flexible enough to take a complete 90 degree turn.

The greatest tech-related invention in sports is: Dry-fit technology! Working out feels so good, but sweating doesn’t. Having a shirt that absorbs moisture is simply amazing!

Our favorite sports-related app/platform right now is: Wow! That’s a tough one. There are so many cool apps, of course we love Coachbase’s app—they are such a great team and so creative!

Your first impressions of Portland are: It’s probably the “foodiest” town I have ever visited. The food is absolutely incredible and close enough that I can walk to everything! Without having a car in the city, that is a big plus.

Past Nike Accelerator Spotlights: 

Previously on GeekWire: Slick video shows why Portland is an awesome city for tech startups … Portland just isn’t where young people go to retire: It’s where they get their VC money, too

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