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.