Apply to PIE: Seeking software, hardware, and consumer product startups

As promised, we opened up PIE applications on July 13, 2020. And they will remain open until August 2, 2020. So if you’re a founder or founding team working on a startup and believe that you could benefit from PIE‘s programs of intensive mentorship, ongoing accountability, mental and emotional support, peer guidance, and connections to an extensive network of alums, businesspeople, and investors that we’ve gathered during more than a decade of accelerating startups and building better founders, then we highly encourage you to apply. Because we’d really like to see what you’re building.

If selected, you will join the PIE program in October 2020. Class will run until May 2021. There is no cost for founders to participate in our program. That means no tuition, no equity taken, and no dilution. For founders, PIE is absolutely free and clear.  

As always, we will accept applications from around the world for these programs. However, as we have mentioned previously, this class will be a virtual experience for participating companies. So unlike previous PIE programs, you and your team members are under no obligation to relocate to Portland, Oregon, to participate in the program. You may participate from anywhere in the world.  

We encourage all stages and types of companies to apply, whether they fit the descriptions of the “ideal PIE candidate” below or not. We appreciate that being a founder is difficult. And we recognize that not every company is going to match our ideal. But we’re always open to working with a wide variety of companies — if we believe that our program has the potential to help them.  

What kinds of companies tend to perform the best in PIE? 

Regardless of which program you choose, the ideal PIE candidate is composed of a set of diverse founders who bring a variety of experiences — both lived and professional — to the company they are building. Why? Research has proven that more diverse teams are more successful and we have seen that demonstrated, firsthand. To put it another way, it has been proven that homogeneity of teams and viewpoints can be a detriment to successful outcomes (emphasis ours):

Interestingly, projects selected by both homogeneous and diverse sets of investment partners were equally promising at the time the decision to invest was made. Differences in decision quality and performance came later, when the investors helped shape strategy, recruitment, and other efforts critical to a young company’s survival and growth. Thriving in a highly uncertain competitive environment requires creative thinking in those areas, and the diverse collaborators were better equipped to deliver it.

“The Other Diversity Dividend,” Harvard Business Review

Therefore, to ensure the greatest chance of success for your company in our program and the most likely chance of your company succeeding post program, we believe that the ideal team will be a diverse one. What do we mean by “diverse”?

  • Having at least one Black, Indigenous, or Person Of Color (BIPOC) and/or woman on the founding team — preferably more than one. 
  • Exhibiting a complementary range of skills and talents on the founding team. 
  • Bringing a variety of perspectives from both lived experiences and professional roles.
  • Demonstrating the potential to build a culture that supports a growing and diverse workforce.

You will notice that the PIE application reflects our desire to recruit diverse teams. In addition to sharing your team members’ professional experience, we also allow you the option of sharing details about the unique characteristics that your team members — as individuals — bring to our programs, be that through differences in race/ethnicity, gender, and/or sexual orientation.

What types of products and services is PIE seeking?

PIE is currently seeking three categories of companies to comprise three separate cohorts of roughly 10 companies each. Sometimes we take fewer companies. Sometimes we take more. 

The cohorts will be divided into the following categories:

  • PIE: Our longest running program, PIE, is focused on rapidly scaling software based businesses, including Software as a Service (SaaS), mobile applications, and the like. Our ideal candidate has a working prototype, has identified a potential target market, and is pre-funding and/or pre-revenue. (That being said, we’ve also worked with solo founders, back of the napkin concepts, and companies that have already raised millions of dollars in venture capital. Again, ideal is ideal, but we’re open to a variety of companies.) 
  • PIE Shop: Run in partnership with Autodesk, PIE Shop focuses on hardware based projects and manufactured objects. Our ideal candidate has a founding team with a functional prototype — even if it’s running off of a breadboard or Raspberry Pi — and has identified a potential target market. Preference will be given to companies that are interested in using Autodesk Fusion 360 as part of designing a product for manufacturing. Again, PIE Shop generally works with companies that are pre-funding and/or pre-revenue
  • PIE Consumer: In collaboration with Built Oregon, PIE Consumer focuses on teams building traditional consumer product offerings — like food, beverages, apparel, beauty, outdoor, pet products, home accessories, and the like — designed to be sold via retail, ecommerce, or direct to consumer. Basically, if you’re selling your product to a consumer, you fit the bill. Unlike other PIE programs which focus on early stage endeavors, this program seeks growth stage, traded sector companies that are post-revenue (ideally with revenues of at least $125,000/year). The program is designed to serve the founding team of the company, even if the company employs others. 

Next steps

If you’ve reviewed the guidance and programs and believe that PIE may be helpful for the company you’re building, here’s what to do next:

  1. Review the PIE application cheat sheet for additional guidance on the application process.
  2. Join the PIE Meetup group or follow the PIE Crowdcast to get updates about upcoming informational sessions and Q&A events, so that we can answer any questions you have about PIE.
  3. Sign up for the PIE newsletter or follow PIE on Twitter for application reminders or to be alerted to any changes to the schedule. 
  4. Submit your application or upload your pitch deck by August 2, 2020.

Thank you for your interest! We look forward to meeting your team and learning more about the company you’re building.

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