For today’s blog post, I caught up with PIE’s gif wizards, Julie and Kevin from Nutmeg, to see what they’ve been up to and to hear their story. Check it out:
Julie, I saw you enter the PIE space at 9 this morning, flushed red face and breathing heavily, at which point I knew you needed to be interviewed. Were you being chased?
Julie: Oh man, I was a mouth breather this morning. No. I was chasing…a 200 mile goal. I’m running a 200 mile relay race from San Fran to Napa, so I’ve been running to work and back home some days as training.
Where are you both from?
Kevin: We are from what’s now called Silicon Valley, (smirks) but what we used to call ‘close to San Francisco’. I’m from a tiny suburb no one had ever heard of called Mountain View, but I think the tech world is aware of it now.
Julie: The 650…
So what’s your story? What caused you to jump ship and start working full-time on Nutmeg?
Julie: I went to film school at USC, worked freelance as a photographer and filmmaker for a few years, so I was always in that space. As soon as Apple made animated gifs compatible in iMessage, I think in iOS 6, I was hooked. But it was tricky. You can’t use Chrome, has to be in Safari, and so on. Convoluted, long, and too many steps for most people. But I loved it, so I’d suffer the process and text everyone gifs.
At the time, I was at AKQA, a digital ad agency, and saw a lot of projects coming in that wanted to put gifs on mobile. Here was this great opportunity—I strongly believed in the medium and knew people wanted an easy way to text gifs. These projects at work, for high tier brands, showed interest on that flip side of the equation.
So I left AKQA and started to deep dive study the market and plan the prototype. Fast forward a few months, I soft launched the app this June and started talking to a few people about the next couple steps, getting their thoughts. One of those people was Kevin, who I met in kindergarten—we’re old family friends.
Kevin, what made you believe that her idea was going to work?
Kevin: Not sure I believe her yet! (says jokingly) I had just finished up my masters in International Economics at Johns Hopkins and had an eye in getting back into the tech scene. I had worked at Google before but wanted to see the other side of the tech spectrum: the startup scene. We had been kinda working on this before and every time I’d come back through the Bay Area, she’d show me the latest iteration. These little 15 minute coffee sessions we would have turned into like four hour brainstorming sessions. I was really excited about the product, and we work well with each other, so as soon as Julie told me about this accelerator opportunity, I just jumped at it.
You’ve been here for almost three weeks now—what?! Tell us about your experience.
Kevin: For me, it’s been great. I like how we have a lot of flexibility here. PIE opens us up to a lot of resources and mentors, but mostly, it’s about getting shit done, and I think it’s been a good balance. We have talks and meetings and things, but also enough time to get our work done. Already in these first couple weeks we’ve had people from pretty much every end of the spectrum—from marketing to developing your actual product, venture capitalists—everything you would need to see how it’s all going to fit together. I’m happy with the first few weeks, and I’m much more excited for us to really take advantage of PIE once we’re a little more established.
Julie: The network and the community around PIE is so open and friendly. I love that. Our class is incredibly supportive of one another, “yeah, I’ll give you an hour, you give me an hour, whatever…we’ll help you through each others problems.” It makes a challenge less daunting because we have a room full of experts to talk to and figure it out. And we have every kind of expert. I’m pretty sure we could say, “here’s our very specific problem” and someone in the class would either have the answer or be able to, by tomorrow, have three people who could give you a very specific answer.
Kevin: Something I loved today during the PR sessions: the mentor called on a few different companies to explain what they were doing so he could work through specific PR advice. Three different times, while someone was explaining their company, someone else jumped in to contribute and help with their pitch because they really cared about each other succeeding. They really wanted to make sure the mentor understood their peer’s company. It sounded like, “Look you’re being humble…your product is better than this.” People are really invested in each others projects. The sort of notion of family is already starting to take place three weeks in.
Tell us about your water filter that makes us want to pee.
Julie: It’s actually a psychology experiment I’m conducting on the entire office. Kirsten (program manager) has to pee every time, within seconds. Kevin is a close second, he usually takes a minute. Keen to see if they adapt, over time. (chuckles) Really, I’m trying to drink more water. Having a water bottle right here–if my glass is empty, I’m going to fill it up without thinking. And it was free, so that’s a win.
Plus, dead serious, the tinkling noise is oddly comforting.
And as I conclude this post, Julie refills her water filter. Click here to check out the Nutmeg app!