events

Join us for PIE Demo Day from the comfort of your socially distant Web browser

Hoping you and yours are happy, healthy, and safe during these strange times. Admittedly, we’re feeling more than a little bit odd trying to pull off a PIE Demo Day in this atmosphere. Given that it’s a far cry from our regular demo day. But we also believe that folks could use a glimpse of positivity and optimism in these challenging times. And our community deserves it.

And so PIE Demo Day 2020 will take place Thursday, March 19, 2020, at 2:00PM completely online. Virtual, if you will. Via the PIE Twitter account and YouTube presence.

If you’re simply interested in viewing the videos from our founders, please check out the playlist below, which is likely blank now but will magically go live at 2:00PM. (Pro tip: Click refresh on your Web browser at that time.)

Or, if you’re looking for something more traditional, please follow the PIE Twitter account. And at 2:00PM, we’ll start live tweeting a virtual demo day. With all the general accoutrement.

Whatever you choose, we’re excited to introduce this new class of PIE startups to you.

Community, events

Please join us for PIE Demo Day 2020


Strange times indeed. A year ago, we all gathered in person to celebrate the 2019 class of PIE startups. Today, that seems like decades ago as we all grapple with the impact of the COVID-19 Novel Coronavirus pandemic.

But the show, especially for startups, very much must find a way to go on. And that’s why PIE Demo Day 2020 is working to bring you a glimmer of optimism and hope in these uncertain times. By having our traditional PIE Demo Day as a fully virtual event.

PLEASE DO NOT SHOW UP IN PERSON. THERE IS NO LIVE EVENT.

If this is your first chance to experience a PIE Demo Day, we’re glad to have you. Unlike other demo days, we’re focused on the people and their journeys. Not so much on fundraising. Or demos for that matter.

This year as in years past, PIE Demo Day will be a time of celebration, where we bring the Portland startup community together to hear from a bunch of amazing founders in our program. They’ll take the (virtual) stage to share details about the companies they’re building. And as always, members of the audience, like you, can eagerly await the opportunity to learn more about how you can help.

Sound good? Cool. Here’s how you can participate:

On March 19, 2020, at 2:00PM Pacific Time, we’ll push all of the videos live and begin live tweeting demo day, with the PIE Twitter account acting as a virtual emcee.

Please tune in, like, retweet, and support the companies in this cohort. In times like these, all we have is community. And we’re so so glad that we’re part of yours.

P.S. Wash your hands.


Community, events, News

PIE Demo Day 2020 moves to online only

We regret having to share the following news.

In the wake of the COVID-19 Novel Coronavirus outbreak, PIE and its partners have made the decision to cancel the traditional in-person PIE Demo Day, slated for March 19, 2020, at Revolution Hall.

There are any number of reasons for making this decision. The primary reason is our effort to ensure the safety of the Portland startup community. Of equal concern was — given the current atmosphere of anxiousness and fear in which we find ourselves —an ever increasing lack of ability to create an event that truly reflects the positivity and support that has become the hallmark of PIE Demo Days. We truly didn’t feel we could achieve the tenor to which our community has become accustomed.

Rick Turoczy, cofounder and general manager of PIE, issued the following statement on the change:

“This decision does not come lightly. Year after year, PIE Demo Day has proven to be an impactful event for both the companies we serve and for our organization, itself. And we greatly appreciate the support that the Portland startup community has continued to show for each founder appearing on stage, over the past 10 years.

“Eliminating opportunities for founders goes against the very nature and ethos of why PIE exists. What’s more, we recognize the untold hours of preparation already incurred represents a sunk cost that impacts both the founders and the companies that they are building.

“Still, given our current understanding of the virus, we feel it would be irresponsible, at best, to bring hundreds of people together in person, simply for the sake of our demo day. The risk is too great. So while it was a difficult decision, we truly feel that canceling the in-person event is the most reasonable course of action to ensure the safety of our founders, mentors, investors, media, and the community at large.

“We always say that the ‘E’ in PIE stands for ‘experiment.’ As such, PIE staff, partners, and startups have made the decision to move forward with the event in an experimental format for us—by going fully virtual. And we would love to have you join us on March 19, 2020, at 2:00PM PDT from the comfort of your Web browser to hear the pitches from the founders in the latest classes of PIE and PIE Shop.”

PIE and PIE Shop startup discussions

Before making the decision to go forward with an online demo day, we shared the news with our current startups. In the interest of transparency, we would like to share that with you, as well.

The following was posed to PIE and PIE Shop founders:

There is really no way to say this without being dramatic. But I’ll give it a shot.

With the current state of the COVID-19 Novel Coronavirus outbreak, we’re in the midst of a health crisis — and ever mounting anxiety — which continues to snowball throughout the world and shows no signs of slowing. Even with the most optimistic of outlooks.

Personally, I’ve spent the past few weeks wrestling with this. Knowing that, at some point, I’d need to make a decision. And now, we no longer have the luxury of time to weigh options. That runway is exhausted.

Given our current understanding of the virus, PIE and our partners feel it would be irresponsible, at best, to bring 750+ of our friends and family together in person, simply for the sake of our demo day. The risk is too great. In addition, we recognize that the positive and supportive environment that has become the hallmark of this event would likely be difficult, if not impossible, to come by, for both presenters and audience members.

And so with that in mind and with a heavy heart, we have made the decision to cancel the PIE Demo Day 2020 event at Revolution Hall on March 19, 2020.

Obviously, this was not an easy or welcome decision. We recognize the amount of time and work you’ve already put into preparing for this event. We understand the promise of this event for both you and your company. And we regret that the Portland startup community will not be able to gather in celebration of what your companies have achieved. (To add additional insult to injury, PIE stands to lose thousands of dollars for canceling at this time, which is difficult for any company, let alone a nonprofit.)

Now, I know what you’re thinking. “Huzzah! No more cranky Rick tearing apart my presentation.” Hold your horses. Not so fast, tiger. This is an experiment after all.

We believe that we have two potential paths forward. And we wanted to invite you to take part in helping us come to the final decision on where PIE Demo Day goes from here. Before we communicate anything to the broader PIE family and the general public.

Door #1: We cancel demo day altogether. While we understand that this would be anticlimactic, we also recognize that you have businesses to build and run. And that this continued drama can be a detrimental distraction.

Door #2: We embrace the “E” in PIE and move forward with a new version of pitch practice. In preparation for an experimental online demo day, we’ll shift to working on recording a screenshare of your slides with a voiceover. The next week will be spent practicing in that format. Once the recording is to your liking and you have received PIE staff approval, we will upload the video to the PIE channel on YouTube. On March 19, PIE Demo Day 2020 will consist of releasing the pre-recorded pitches and amplifying them on social.

Door #3: You don’t have a definitive decision but are comfortable proceeding with the popular vote.

Given these choices, how would you like to proceed? Please advise. We need to make this decision so that we can communicate to attendees and the broader community. I’ll give teams until 5:00PM PDT today, March 9, 2020, to decide.

As a result of the vote, the decision was made to move forward with an online event.

Frequently Asked Questions

Have you considered livestreaming the event?
A live stream is a really hard format to do genuinely if you’ve never done it before. It’s actually more stressful than performing on stage. And it takes a long time to get comfortable pretending that you’re getting the same feedback from an audience on the other side of the camera that you would from a live audience.

We don’t have an opportunity to practice in that sort of environment, so it’s fraught with peril and failure. We need the PIE Demo Day experience to have a positive outcome for our founders.

Whereas with the pre-recorded format, you have the opportunity to put your best foot forward. You can practice in that environment innumerable times.

Admittedly, we were initially thinking that going down the live stream path would be an option and had already secured a venue and staff to make that happen. But given the additional cost and likelihood of a less than positive outcome, it seemed best to take a different tact.

Have you considered postponing demo day until a later date?
That was a consideration several weeks ago. However, given that we’re already seeing May and June events rescheduling for fall or even next year, it appears highly unlikely that we’ll have the opportunity to reschedule Demo Day before the next class of PIE begins.

Will startups have the option of recording a video rather than a screen share with voice over?
Founders are more than welcome to submit multiple versions of their pitch for uploading to the PIE YouTube channel. For the sake of consistency, however, the only version that will be uploaded during PIE Demo Day 2020 will be the version that is consistent with the format we have proposed. We will upload additional videos to the PIE channel at a later date, should we both agree that it provides additional value for the founder and/or their company.

Have you considered…?
Woah, tiger. Let me just stop you right there. Yes. Yes we have considered that. PIE staff, partners, and mentors have been wrestling with this decision for weeks. Please accept that we’ve thought through every possible scenario and are doing what we believe to be in everyone’s best interest at this time. It’s not perfect. But based on our experience, it has the highest likelihood of success.

How do I attend PIE Demo Day 2020?
To participate in PIE Demo Day 2020, follow @piepdx on Twitter or subscribe to PIE on YouTube.

We’re going through something similar. Can we borrow some of your language?
If any of the content above can be helpful to you with internal or external communications for your company or event, please feel free to borrow liberally. We’ve been in a bunch of these conversations, lately. And it’s a challenging topic. If our efforts can make your life a little easier, it would be nice to see some good come of this.

How can I prevent COVID-19 from spreading?
For more information about preventing the spread of COVID-19, please visit the official CDC Prevention Web site.

News

PIE testimony to Portland City Council on 2019 accomplishments

When PIE spun out of Wieden+Kennedy a few years back, we decided that one of the new experiments should be testing the waters as a nonprofit startup accelerator. Which meant that, rather than relying wholly on generating revenue to keep the accelerator running, we would also have the opportunity to partner with grantmaking organizations with whom we share common goals.

One of the organizations with whom we were able to partner from PIE’s earliest days as a nonprofit was Prosper Portland, the economic development agency for the city of Portland, Oregon. As part of our partnership with Prosper, we receive both grant money as well as access to the Inclusive Business Resource Network, a community of practice which includes any number of entrepreneur support organizations in our city.

To close out the year, PIE Community Manager Marquita Jaramillo was invited to give testimony to the Mayor Ted Wheeler and the Portland City Council. Video as well as the transcript of that testimony follow.

Good afternoon Mayor Wheeler and City Council Members. Thank you for your time. My name is Marquita Jaramillo, I am the community manager for PIE, the Portland Incubator Experiment, an ongoing experiment designed to foster collaboration among established corporations, government entities, educational institutions, and the Portland startup community. Throughout our 10 year history, PIE has accelerated more than 100 local companies — companies like AllGo, Black Founders Matter, Cloudability, Dorsum, MilkRun, Nexgarden, Simple, Uncorked Studios, and Workfrom, among others — and fostered the creation of more than 1000 jobs in the Portland area

We have two program locations. PIE Shop located within Autodesk in the Towne Storage building at 221 SE Ankeny and PIE/ Innovation Lab within Puppet located at 308 SW 2nd Ave, a few blocks from here.

PIE supports founders building scalable traded sector businesses in the software, manufacturing, and consumer product industries. Our program at PIE Shop focuses on manufactured products, with a digital/technical component, the program running at Puppet Innovation Lab supports SaaS. (Software as a Service) businesses, and our partnership with Built Oregon accelerates consumer product companies from Portland and around the state of Oregon. The current cohorts of PIE Shop and PIE residency programs are home to 54 startups, which includes both newly founded companies as well as PIE alums who serve as mentors in residence. That totals to more than 120 hard working Portland entrepreneurs building innovative companies that will serve as the employers and community anchors of the future. All of this work is currently shouldered by two part-time employees who split time among the programs and a vast network of hundreds of local mentors who volunteer their time and expertise in support of these amazing founders in the program.

As an entrepreneur, myself, for the past 5 years and a microbusiness owner for the past year, I fully understand the struggles associated with owning/running a business and strongly support BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) founders. PIE echoes similar values and support for these underestimated communities. We see an exciting future ahead, but it isn’t without concerns. Each day we encounter the difficulties our founders face, firsthand. We have very real worries about the lack of risk tolerant, early stage funding available to start/grow a business in our community, the lack of health insurance, and mental and behavioral health support, especially for individuals who are likely going through the most stressful experience of their lives. PIE is happy to partner with Prosper Portland and the City of Portland to participate in the Inclusive Business Resource Network (IBRN) because it makes sense for us and the community.

The parts of the IBRN I am most excited about are the ones that address these issues and will make Portland better for everyone, including the people who work here and for those who call it home. The IBRN offers an array of services rather than a one-size-fits-all solution to the very real problems that come with being an entrepreneur/founder and a person of color. Through valuable partnerships and community engagements PIE aims to be a positive change in the startup community, and in the greater Portland community in general.

Thank you, again, for your time.

Community

To better accelerate Zebra startups, we need to better understand Zebra startups

Here at PIE, we’ve been following the Zebra Movement with great interest. And it’s not just because a PIE alum is among the cofounders of the effort. (Although, we’re super proud of that.) It’s because the model they’re proposing — which counters the prevailing “Unicorn” startup thinking — seems to both resonate and reflect a number of startups with whom we find ourselves working at PIE.

But like so many things in the startup world, a lot of the evidence about these companies is, at best, anecdotal. And that’s why we were really happy to see the Zebras Unite folks making an effort to get more definitive information on the Zebra population. By running a census of sorts.

We would love to see as many companies as possible responding to this census. So if you feel like you’re building a Zebra company and are interested in learning more about your peers and the programs that are being built to support you and your company, please take a few moments to respond to this survey.

Mentors, News

Puppet partners with PIE

We’ve had the pleasure and privilege of partnering with any number of interesting companies throughout the ten-year history of PIE. From our founding partner Wieden+Kennedy to global brands like Coca-Cola and Google to our current partners Autodesk, Prosper Portland, and Stoel-Rives. We’ve even had the chance to partner with PIE alums like Uncorked Studios.

But we’ve never quite had an opportunity like this.

And that’s why we’re humbled to announce that we have officially signed Puppet as a partner for the next cohort of PIE and PIE Shop.

If you’re not familiar with Puppet, they’re one of the largest independent software companies in Portland. They have deep roots in the open source community. And they count among their customers any number of household names. In fact, more than 40,000 companies—including more than 75 percent of the Fortune 100—use Puppet’s open source and commercial solutions.

But more importantly to PIE and to the Portland startup community, they recognize the importance of giving back, engaging with community, and paying it forward for the next generation of startups. They’ve grown up here, from startup to growth stage. They get it. They understand both the challenges and the opportunities that Portland has to offer. And they have any number of talented and amazing people who are willing to volunteer their time to ensure that their knowledge becomes knowledge that can help all of us.

So if you’ve been wondering how you scale a successful DevOps company or you’d simply like guidance on how to grow the next quintessential Portland company, we’ve officially got a whole bunch of new mentors who can help you get there.

But you’ve got to get your application submitted now. Like right now.

(And if you’d like to come help us celebrate this partnership, please feel free to swing by the PIE 10 year celebration, tonight. We’d love to see you.)

We’re truly thankful for all of our amazing partners over the years and are more than excited about welcoming Puppet to the PIE family.

For officialness’ sake, press release included below.

PIE ESTABLISHES FORMAL PARTNERSHIP WITH PUPPET
Startup accelerator launches new collaboration with leading software company for the benefit of the Portland startup community

August 15, 2019 — PORTLAND, Ore. — PIE (https://piepdx.com/), an ongoing experiment designed to support early stage startups in Portland, announced today that it has signed a formal partnership with Puppet (https://puppet.com/), the standard for automating the delivery and operation of the software that powers everything around us and one of the largest privately held software companies headquartered in Portland, designed to explore opportunities for Puppet employees to more readily engage in mentoring early stage technology companies through both the PIE and PIE Shop programs.

PIE regularly collaborates with established organizations to pursue opportunities that benefit both the organizations and the Portland startup community. Most often, these collaborations take the form of mentorship opportunities to help support founders of early stage companies. Since its founding in 2009 in collaboration with the Portland headquarters of Wieden+Kennedy, PIE has had the opportunity to partner with a wide variety of entities, large and small, like Autodesk, Coca-Cola, Daimler, Google, Intel, Nike, Prosper Portland, the State of Oregon, Target, and Uncorked Studios, among others.

“We’ve had the pleasure of working with a handful of Puppet employees as PIE mentors for several years. So when the opportunity arose to formalize a relationship between our organizations, we jumped at the chance,” said Rick Turoczy, cofounder and general manager, PIE. “It’s especially exciting to partner with a fairly young company that still retains a great deal of its open source and startup culture. We’re looking forward to the chance to collaborate with a company that so closely aligns with the culture of PIE.”

As the two organizations work to flesh out the details of the partnership, PIE is accepting applications for new startups (https://piepdx.com/apply) until August 18, 2019, with the intent of bringing upwards of 20 startups into its PIE and PIE Shop programs, 10 for each program cohort, respectively. To date, more than 100 Portland companies have been helped by PIE.

“At Puppet, we’re dedicated to lowering the steep barriers to entry for the tech industry and fostering community within Portland’s burgeoning startup scene.” said Laura Nichols, Director of Global Workplace at Puppet. “We could not be more excited to partner with PIE, which has served as a central hub for the Portland startup community for a decade, to mentor, support and collaborate with the next generation of leaders in our community.”

About Puppet
Puppet is driving the movement to a world of unconstrained software change. Its revolutionary platform is the industry standard for automating the delivery and operation of the software that powers everything around us. More than 40,000 companies—including more than 75 percent of the Fortune 100—use Puppet’s open source and commercial solutions to adopt DevOps practices, achieve situational awareness and drive software change with confidence. Headquartered in Portland, Oregon, Puppet is a privately held company with more than 500 employees around the world. Learn more at puppet.com.

About PIE
Now in its 10th year, PIE is an ongoing experiment designed to enable established organizations — corporations, government, and educational institutions, among others — to collaborate with the Portland, Oregon, startup community in mutually beneficial ways. Throughout its history, PIE has served as a curated coworking space, a community event space, a startup accelerator, a flashpoint for corporate innovation, an accelerator for accelerators, and a home-away-from-home for startup types — and the startup curious — from around the world. PIE is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization through its fiscal sponsor, Built Oregon. For more information, visit https://piepdx.com/.

Advice

PIE and PIE Shop request for startups 2019

At PIE, we’ve always been lucky to see a wide variety of startups apply — and be selected — for our accelerator program, from nonprofits to rockets. And we’re always intrigued by the breadth of companies from which we have the opportunity to select. So let us be clear, we actively encourage all types of companies to apply for our program.

That being said, part of the PIE experiment often motivates us to pursue specific types of startups. What kinds? Well, this time around, we’re especially interested in encouraging these types of startups to apply:

Autodesk users (or potential Autodesk users). PIE Shop — our collaboration with Autodesk designed to accelerate companies that are manufacturing things — is also a way for Autodesk to spend more quality time their customer base, which, in turn, helps Autodesk to build even better and more compelling products. As such, we’re very interested in hearing from companies that are using Fusion360, Inventor, or a combination of different Autodesk products. If you’re curious as to whether you might be a potential Autodesk user, here’s all of their software offerings.

Connected devices or Internet of Things. As PIE Shop collaborator Uncorked Studios so eloquently puts it, we’re convinced that Portland has all of the necessary ingredients to be a prominent player in the world of connected devices and Internet of Things. We’d like to see startups apply that are exploring these areas. We’re curious about what folks are building. And we welcome the opportunity to recruit and engage mentors who might not otherwise be motivated to work with PIE or PIE Shop. So if you’re building a connected device, please apply.

Zebras. If there’s one thing we’ve learned after a decade of working with Portland startups — and startups that are attracted to Portland — it’s that financial gain is often the last thing motivating and driving our founders. And even if there are financial motives, they do not often come with a “growth at any cost” mindset. Unfortunately for Portland and its founders, those types companies don’t often fit the venture capital model, and that means that there’s not a great deal of accelerator support for those companies. Well, we want to help support and accelerate the growth of those companies — and figure out how the accelerator model can be effectively leveraged for Zebras. Because we’re more likely to find Zebras around here, than Unicorns. So if you feel that you’re building something that can be collaborative, profitable, and improve society, we would love to hear from you.

More questions about PIE or PIE Shop? Please feel free to join us for an upcoming question and answer session. No questions? Cool. Then please join us for our 10 year celebration, instead.

Remember, PIE and PIE Shop applications close August 18, 2019.

Advice

A few frequently asked questions about PIE and PIE Shop

Super happy to have a bunch of awesome founders considering applying to PIE. Now, the questions about PIE and PIE Shop are starting to roll in. So we thought we would take the opportunity to answer a few of them.

What’s the difference between PIE and PIE Shop?
Programmatically, nothing. Focus wise, PIE helps founders building digital products, like Software as a Service (SaaS), mobile applications, and platforms; while PIE Shop helps founders building physical products that require manufacturing facilities.

What stage of company do you work with?
We tend to focus on early stage companies that are generally pre-revenue and/or pre-funding. Ideally, they have a usable prototype or product. But we’ll take a back of the napkin concept if the founding team feels right. We’ve also worked with companies that have already raised millions of dollars.

Honestly, we just like being challenged. And this is an experiment. We’re always looking for new types of companies that will help us expand our capabilities. If you feel like being part of that, you should apply.

What does the accelerator program entail?
The most valuable aspect of PIE is the mentorship, both peer and expert. But you also get free office space. And we try to feed you on a regular basis. If you’re in PIE Shop, you also get free access to Autodesk’s entire suite of tools. Plus, random people are always showing up in Portland and stopping by our office. So you never really know what’s going to happen. So, you know, it’s like a startup.

How do you decide which companies to invite into the program?
We have a variety of selection criteria that we use, but here’s the basic things we’re looking at and how important they are to us:

People (5.0x): We analyze the entrepreneurs to determine their level of coachability, the extent of their experience in business and/or the market they are pursuing, their existing knowledge and learning to be had, their ability to work in a collaborative space, and their willingness to participate in the program as a mentor to other members of their cohort (peer mentoring), as well as their potential to assist future members of the program (ongoing mentoring).

Idea (2.0x): Staff, partners, and mentors are asked to analyze the potential of the business idea, the market(s) to which the idea may be attractive, the feasibility of developing a product for that market(s), and whether the product is appropriately timed for the intended market(s).

Enchantment (1.5x): Staff, mentors, and partners assess the less tangible elements of the team and the product they are pursuing. Is it intriguing? Will it benefit other companies in the cohort? Are the founders likely to be helpful to their peers? Are there mentors who could have a meaningful impact on the entrepreneurs and their businesses? Is there a value to the community or other sponsors?

And yes, I’m sure you’re shocked to see that spells PIE.

I’m not sure that my company is a good fit. Should I apply?
We don’t know if your company is a good fit either. You should apply.

How structured is the day-to-day time in the accelerator?
Heavily unstructured and chaotic. We customize our program to each company — sometimes on a founder by founder basis. At best, it’s an independent study. While we have some programming that applies to all of the startups, the vast majority of our time is spent one-on-one with our companies, helping them get to the next stage that they define as their goal. We then take our knowledge of the startups and the challenges the founders face and sync them up with mentors who have expertise to explore those issues.

This matchmaking — putting startups together with the appropriate mentors for the specific problem that is impeding them and repeating that process with each new problem — provides the most value for both the startups and the mentors.

For accelerator managers, we tried to capture what a typical week looks like. It may help you, too.

Who are the mentors?
PIE has an extensive network of mentors spanning from founders, top-notch engineers, VCs, creatives, journalists, and a ton of other folks who are much smarter than we are. We also have the added benefit of having our alumni included in the mentor pool. And access to awesome employees at Autodesk.

How long have you been doing this?
PIE turns 10 years old in August. We’re throwing a little get together to celebrate. You should come.

How much does this cost?
Zero. Zilch. Nada. No equity. No cost to founders. From your perspective, it’s all free and clear.

How long does the class last?
The next class will probably last 6-9 months. Again, it’s on a case by case basis. We push our founders and companies to move further, faster than they would be able to go on their own. But that doesn’t mean pushing them out of the space until they’re ready to move on.

What benefits do you see in being in Portland?
Portland is a vibrant and growing city with very active tech, startup, and maker communities. The cost of living is rising but is still lower than most West Coast cities. And you can easily walk, bike, or take public transit to most, if not all, places. Companies like Airbnb, Amazon, Autodesk, eBay, Google, Mozilla, New Relic, and Salesforce all have regional offices here. The Bay is a quick direct flight away.

It’s not for everyone. But we like it.

No, really. How much does this cost?
As far as you’re concerned, PIE is completely free. For real. Free as in free.

What is the involvement of Autodesk in the process?
The companies who participate in the PIE Shop program have the opportunity to work with teams at Autodesk from helping you make better use of their software to folks who want to muck around on your platform. We look for new opportunities to engage with our existing and new corporate partners every year so don’t be surprised if other opportunities happen.

What’s the difference between an incubator and an accelerator?
In our jargon, an incubator protects ideas from the real world, sheltering them until they’ve had time to validate their concept and gain some traction. An accelerator exposes founders to the real world faster than they would be able to accomplish on their own. Incubators protect. Accelerators do not.

Using an automotive industry analogy, incubators are the production line. Accelerators are the crash tests.

Seriously. What’s the catch?
No catch. We just believe the prevailing mythology about how founders build startups is completely misleading. We want to demystify what it means to be a founder. And provide our founders with every opportunity to succeed. We’re incredibly lucky to have access to a supportive community of mentors who are willing to volunteer their time to help us achieve these goals.

Where do we apply?
Right here.

Want to help us generate more FAQs?
Great! We’ve got a series of events where you can ask your questions. And we can probably provide answers. Please consider joining us.

News

We’re super interested in the startup you’re building and we’d love to hear more about it

Here at PIE, we love founders and founding teams. The passion, creativity, and grit that drive people to pursue their vision is a constant source of intrigue — and inspiration. And it’s a pursuit we want to encourage. And facilitate.

We believe that you should be building your company. And we want you to do that.

That said, after 10 years of doing this work, we recognize that one of the most challenging things about building a business is finding access to the people and resources that can help support you at the earliest stages. Before you’re popular. Before you’re a household name. Before you can afford an office. Before investors are lining up to fund you.

That’s why we’re here. To support you.

And it’s not just the aspects of the business that present a challenge. Because when it comes right down to it, this isn’t just about generating revenue or raising venture capital. We recognize that you’re human. And being a founder is hard. Really really hard. It’s lonely. It’s stressful. It’s confusing. And then there’s the constant haranguing doubt. And imposter syndrome. You rarely feel like you’re “crushing it” or “killing it” no matter how many times you confidently voice the potential of your concept. Sometimes, you just want to let down your guard and be real.

That’s why we bring a bunch of founders together. To support one another.

If that sounds like something that might benefit you and your company, then we’d love to hear more about what you’re building. And who is building it with you. And if things seem to make sense, we’d love to invite you to join our program.

Applications are currently open for two flavors of PIE:

  • PIE supports companies that are building digital products. We have a deep history in Software as a Service (SaaS) and B2B companies, having helped startups like Airship, AppThwack, Cloudability, and Read The Docs. That said, we’ve had the chance to work with consumer facing companies, too. Folks like AllGo, MilkRun, and Simple.
  • PIE Shop supports companies that are manufacturing physical products. Ideally, physical products with a digital component, like connected devices and Internet of Things. As an added bonus, this program provides free access to Autodesk software, training, and a desktop manufacturing facility to help these companies get to prototype and beyond as quickly as possible.

Sound interesting? Awesome. We hope you take the opportunity to apply. Still have questions? We have answers. Please join us for one of these question and answer sessions.

(All of these sessions are family friendly. So feel free to have a kid or kids in tow if that makes it easier for you to attend any of these sessions.)

Applications will remain open until August 18, 2019, at 11:59PM Pacific Time. If you’d like time to formulate your answers before you submit, we have created a PIE application cheat sheet for your use.

We look forward to hearing more about what you’re building. So please, go apply already.

Community, News

Our newest experiment: Introducing the consumer products accelerator inaugural class

It’s no secret that PIE takes the “E” in our acronym very seriously. (The “E” stands for “experiment.”) As such, we’re always excited when someone approaches us with a new concept. And that’s why when Built Oregon approached us with the idea of a consumer products accelerator, we jumped at the chance to work on it.

And now, after months of planning, promoting, and recruiting, we’re proud to reveal the first class of the Built Accelerator, a nonprofit nondilutive accelerator focused on consumer products companies throughout Oregon.

The inaugural cohort includes:

After a decade of experimenting with technology companies, it only makes sense that the next logical phase of our ongoing experiment is to expand the types of companies with whom we work. And to test the hypothesis that the programmatic elements we’ve designed — the educational platform that we’ve built — can be applied to a far broader selection of startups than just tech companies.

We’ve always appreciated the random collisions among founders that our accelerator spaces have provided. By expanding the diversity of the types of founders and companies we’re helping, the potential for those serendipitous moments within the PIE family will increase exponentially — and that’s good for everyone.

Looking forward to the next phase of this experiment.

For more information and details on the companies, please read “Announcing the Inaugural Built Consumer Product Accelerator Class.”