Alumni, Community, News

PIE’s 2014 Demo Day

pie5This whole experiment thing called PIE has been going for five years—constantly changing, continually experimenting and it’s been awesome to see the Portland tech community evolve alongside us. We’ve all come a long way over these past five years and the opportunities ahead are exciting.

The startups in this year’s class have spent three months absorbing everything possible from the PIE mentor network, the Portland community, Wieden+Kennedy and more. The day to share the results of these interactions is finally approaching: October 24th is PIE’s 2014 Demo Day.

This year’s Demo Day will feature presentations from our portfolio companies and highlights from our latest experiments. We’ll also take a look back at five years of PIE and the amazing startups with whom we have had the pleasure to work.

The event, held in Gerding Theater, sold out within a few days—and since we like to think of Demo Day as a community event, we’re always looking for ways to ensure we can get our awesome startup community together in person to take part in it. We’re happy to announce that our friends at eBay have been kind enough to host a PIE Demo Day simulcast. They have room for 100 folks to join them.

If for some reason you’re too far away and can’t join us at the Gerding Theater or the Simulcast, we also have a livestream link for you. Details for the Simulcast and the Livestream are below:

PIE Demo Day 2014 – Simulcast
Friday, October 24 1:30–4pm
eBay Community Lounge
Click to RSVP

PIE Demo Day 2014 – Livestream
Friday, October 24 2–4pm
Click to visit livestream link

See you in a week!

Community, News

Breaker: The Future of Education + Design Week Portland

It is officially fall. Demo day is a mere 30 days away and school is back in session. It really is crazy how quickly time flies by when you’re having fun … accelerating a new class … err, having fun.  It’s even crazier that in May I was saying to you, dear reader, that I was “looking forward to seeing how the impact of the Breaker program continues to ripple through the educational institutions here in Portland, for both the student and the educators.” Why so crazy? Because a mere 5 months later, Project Breaker + the Construct Foundation are back in the saddle with an awesome lineup for Design Week Portland.

Unfamiliar with Design Week? Well, during October 4th-11th, Design Week Portland explores the process, craft, and practice of design across disciplines as seen through the lens of our city’s most vibrant independent programming. For more information on the talks, workshops, panels, and other happenings check out the events schedule here:

And if you’re interested in the future of education right here in Portland (because you should be), sign up for a Breaker related event here:

Oh, and one more thing.  Check out this awesome video recap from PIE’s time with Project Breaker back in May.



Announcing PIE Class of 2014

The past 24 hours have brought about an entirely new energy to the PIE space. The nine new companies representing the 2014 PIE class, have finally moved in! No doubt we’re excited—it’s like seeing an empty stadium get filled with fans, an empty classroom get filled with students, a quiet farm get filled with…okay, I’ll stop. The PIE countdown clock is already ticking (to the second) down to Demo Day, and teams have done a great job pretending like they’re already hard at work (The tour, breakfast, new friends, ‘first-day’ feelings were all pretty distracting.) So who are the teams?

PIE Class of 2014

BlkDot: Social Commerce Platform allows online store owners to easily post shoppable content to social media networks and provide analytics, comparables and performance insights by channel.

Droplr: File and screen-shot sharing made simple.

Krumplr: At Krumplr we believe you should be able to use one, simple interface to review, organize, prioritize, schedule, and close your tasks across multiple systems no matter whether you are on the go or at your desk.

Outdoor Project: Combining inspiration, resources and social community to create the most dynamic marketplace for outdoor adventure.

Read the Docs: Read the Docs builds and hosts documentation for software projects, creating usable, searchable, and up to date docs for your users.

Supportland: Supportland is a technology company with a social mission that enables independent businesses to create stronger local economies, enhance customer loyalty and increase revenue with a flexible, measurable tool.

We’ve learned that solo founders have a difficult time going through the traditional PIE accelerator, so we’re working to create an alternative track to support this growing population of entrepreneurs. The solo-founders who jumped on board with this experiment are:

Cairns: Put things on maps. Share them.

Nutmeg: Nutmeg gives you easy access to gifs worth texting.

XOBXOB: Creating personal experiences with physical connected devices.

We’re super excited to have everyone in the space, and we’re looking forward to a great class.

Alumni, Community

5 Questions with Mark McCoy

Welcome to our new series “5 Questions”.  We’ll be sitting down with a PIE alum and asking them 5 questions about their entrepreneurial journey, and sharing their answers with you.  To kick things off, we sat down with Mark McCoy, Creative Director of Teak.

1. What are some of the bigger challenges for players in your industry?
There are so many. The big one I’ve been thinking about lately is: Getting new customers to adopt the practices they need to see success. There’s so much to this, understanding customer’s priorities, getting the user onboarding just right, and making sure that your value proposition aligns with the job they are trying to get done.

With a SaaS company like Teak, we are asking our customers to change their workflow– do something new that they weren’t doing before– so they can see an improvement in user growth and retention. The value is there, but getting a whole app development team on board is a big challenge.

First you have to motivate the emotions to understand the “why” they should try this new thing. Then, you have to explain the “how” to the practical side. Meanwhile, you need to make sure the emotion side is still excited and not overwhelmed, otherwise they might just procrastinate the whole thing.

Now, take that and spread it across a whole team where different people have different roles. It gets messy. You can see why on-boarding new people is an art form, a challenge, but also kind of fun to try to figure out.

2. What’s a small change you’ve recently made at Teak that’s resulted in large positive results?
We brought on Davey Jackson to lead our sales and business development. I like to think of him as “chief getting out and talking to more people officer.” Okay, bringing someone on isn’t really a small change, but it has brought a large positive result. We are now talking to more potential customers, learning more about their needs, and refining our offering as a result.

3. How has being in the Portland community helped your company become what it is today?
I should use this space to talk about how amazing PIE is and how the network of mentors is so generous and giving with their time and wisdom. They are, it’s been a really great experience.

But, because it’s almost lunch time as I’m writing this, I feel I should also highlight an under-appreciated member of the Portland scene: the Koi Fusion food truck. The Korean short rib burrito has fueled many of my work sessions and help power both creativity and productivity. Mmm… burrito…

4. How/when/why did you decide to jump ship and start your own company?
I’m a serial startup junky. I started at a gaming startup right out of college. That got bought, and then bought again. Then I started at another game startup where we faced the challenges that Teak is currently solving.

So, it was a natural move for us, we built a product for ourselves and figured, “hey, this would be useful for other people like us.”

5. PIE’s 2014 class will be arriving this summer. Having been through PIE and now a year out, what’s one piece of advice would you give to new participating founders?
Talk to customers. No, really, are you talking to customers? You should probably talk to more customers. There’s so much learning that comes out of those conversations and no amount of whiteboard speculation can substitute. Even for those of us who are building a product that scratches your own itch: Get out there and find out what your people really need.

Also, get a Korean short rib burrito. They are delicious.

(Bonus Question)
6. Is it always about burritos with you?

Alumni, News

Athletepath Launches New Feature

Athletepath, launched a new product last week and it’s awesome.  Now, the PIE alum that makes racing events social by connecting amateur athletes to their friends and fans, along with their performance results, has user activity feeds.  This new feature enables the discovery of new events, and increases the engagement and interaction for the athlete and their whole world of racing.  Feed_v2


With 1.6 million athletes (and growing) on their platform, Athletepath is well on their way to becoming THE destination for all things racing.   Congrats to the fittest startup team in Portland, you make us all look lazy.

To try it out for yourself, sign up here.


Alumni, News

Vadio + Vevo = MOAR Music

Yesterday PIE alum Vadio (that kept the PIE office filled with music until the wee hours of the morning) announced a major partnership with Vevo.

Why is this so great for the Vadio team? Vevo is the world’s leading all-premium music video and entertainment platform, with over 5.5 billion monthly views. This partnership enables Vadio to bring Vevo’s catalogue of over 100,000 music videos, live concert events and original programming to its streaming media partners.

The Vadio team, with offices in Portland and LA, has created technology that enables their customers (radio stations) to synchronize their audio streams with video content.

Here’s a little more on that from co-founder and CEO of Vadio, Bryce Clemmer:

“Vevo is synonymous with quality music and entertainment programming, making them an ideal partner to enable the conversion of audio to video streaming content, While audio streaming continues to grow in popularity, video streaming has expanded exponentially. With Vevo on board, we can enable media companies around the world to take full advantage of the video revolution.”

Congrats to the Vadio team!

Community, News

Oregon Story Board Now Accepting Applications

Calling all digital story tellers; our sister accelerator, Oregon Story Board (OSB) is now accepting applications for their fall class!

Located in OMSI (yeah, talk about office envy), the folks at OSB are fueling a new digital storytelling ecosystem here in Oregon. Their goal is to increase the economic viability, innovation, impact and stature of companies that fit within this network.

It seems like just yesterday that this crazy seed was planted. Now here they are launching a new program and running a great co-working space.

Applications are open until July 15th, so get on it. Or you can procrastinate and wait until the last minute like you do with your PIE application.  If you’ve ever applied to PIE, the questions on the OSB application might look strangely familiar.  Ya know, siblings, we share things.

*Apply here*

Oh, and check out this video they made about digital story telling.


Community, News

A Few Tickets Left For OEN’s 2014 Entrepreneurial Summit

I’m not sure what we love at PIE more, great story telling or local entrepreneurs.  If you’re like us, than tomorrow is your chance to get the best of both at OEN’s 2014 Entrepreneurial Summit at the Kennedy School.

Fifteen successful Oregon entrepreneurs will share their stories, teaching you the lessons they learned the hard way.

Whether expanding opportunities for life-saving medical research, pioneering new energy-saving systems, or reinventing the perfect donut, these storytellers share an appetite for adventure, innovation, and problem-solving. We’re especially excited to see Luke Kanies of Puppet Labs, Marshall Kirkpatrick of Little Bird, and Jim Plymale of Clinicient representing the tech space. See a full speaker list here.

Fuel your own entrepreneurial journey with the inspiring, honest stories of these entrepreneurs’ ups and downs. Register now before it sells out!

See you there.

Alumni, Community

PIE Alum Job Board Roundup

It feels like just yesterday we were watching these folks at demo day.  Now here they are, out on their own, growing and hiring like crazy.  Makes us so proud!  Alright, enough of the sentiment, lets get down to business.  Here is a round up of PIE companies that are hiring.

Cloudability: “…building a completely new approach to managing the technology supply chain. We’re fast paced, motivated and have a lot of fun together. We’re evangelical about the cloud. Over 8000 companies use our platform to manage more than $500M of cloud spending. Our mission is to change the way companies leverage the cloud…”

Big Data Architect :
Dir. Tech Account Management:


Vadio: “…creating beautiful and engaging video experiences for digital media. We power online video channels across four continents and are quickly growing.”

Software Engineer – Python/Node.js:


Lytics: “…makes it possible for marketers to create comprehensive customer profiles across all touchpoints (mobile, social, web) and truly target their messages to increase results and improve customer experience…”

Job Board:

Stublisher: “…working to bridge the gap between digital and analog – ideating, designing and engineering interactive experiences. As a company, we balance both client work and internal experiments which are aimed at furthering communication around shared interests…”


Orchestrate: “…gives developers access to multiple databases for full-text search, graph, and events queries, through a REST API.”

Job Board:

Other PIE companies to keep an eye on:

Urban Airship
Portland Startup Switchboard is always a good resource for job postings and other ‘asks’ and ‘offers’ within the Portland startup community.


A look back at Project Breaker

This last Monday marked the conclusion of The Future of Stuff challenge, created by Project Breaker and sponsored by Concordia University. PIE was a facilitator of the two-week challenge; along with senior TED fellow and Breaker founder Juliette LaMontagne and Erin Huizenga, founder of Epic.  We had eleven participants—Breakers—who ranged in age from 17 to 26.

Breaker’s mission is to redefine education, create entrepreneurs, and design change. Some hefty goals for a two week program, but they were indeed achieved. The program was kicked off with an introduction to the challenge and talks by Portland visionaries: Wilson Smith from Nike, Dana Hinger + Sara Tunstall founders of Spooltown, and Lori Heino-Royer of Daimler.

Toward an more empathetic entrepreneur

We introduced the Breakers to the importance of human centered design and the importance of empathy instead of bias. A lesson that is easier said than done.

Case in point, I challenge you to look at your company and the user profiles that you design your product around. Ask yourself how much of your decisions are based on what you think your consumer wants vs. what they actually need. How much user research have you done and in that research how much have you heard vs. inferred? My guess is you’ll be surprised with what you find.

Getting out of the building

The Breakers were sent out to various manufacturing and maker spaces around town and conducted hours of interviews and compiled as much information as they could.  As a group, they presented their findings and looked for similar patterns and or common problems that might have existed.

They were challenged to map their findings and from there create user POVs and “How Might We” statements that would influence the next phase of the process. These POV profiles were a critical point of the process because without having a genuine understanding of whom you’re creating for and why you’re creating it, you’re essentially just creating for yourself.

I’m not here to say that that is wrong, but I am asking you to think about whether or not that’s sustainable.

Putting theory into practice (or the use of 1000s of Post-it Notes)

From there, we dove into the lean methodologies.  Ideas were generated, prototyped, tested, learned from and, well you know the drill… we repeated this process several more times.

We weren’t alone though; during this phase we brought in thought leaders from Ziba, Wal-Mart Labs, Context Partners, Urban Development Partners, Wieden+Kennedy, PIE, Nike and more.  These folks reinforced the lessons of design thinking and the importance of empathy, they  pushed back on the assumptions, questioned the business models and viabilities, championed for failure and iteration, collaboration, and continued to teach and inspire the Breakers to push harder and fail forward.

Bringing it all together

We ended the project with a pitch day on Monday at Concordia University, where the Breakers not only presented three viable business solutions but they shared their process and the impact that the taught methodologies had on them. The audience was made up of the community stake holders, the industry visionaries who inspired us at the kickoff, the folks from the site visits and many faculty and administrators from across Portland Public Schools and Concordia University.

Educating the educators

I mention the last folks, because there is a very important part of Breaker that I haven’t even mentioned yet. A part that in my opinion, really makes Project Breaker stand out from others like it.  During the two-week challenge, there is a Professional Development tract that runs along side the Breakers.

Juliette + Leah Noble Davidson took three separate cohorts of educators, administrators, and various industry folks (about 38 people total) through 3-day sprints of the Breaker process. While their process was identical to the Breakers, their mission was to find ways to implement these methodologies and practices into their organization and class rooms.

A very important lesson I learned from PIElette and that I know other groups have faced after these types of projects is the dreaded and sometimes unanticipated feeling of “ok, so now what.”  Where do we go from here? What was the point of all of this? Juliette’s inclusion of the Professional Development tract is designed to answer that.

Okay. So now what?

We now have 38 professionals who have experienced a different way of  teaching, thinking and doing.  We now have folks on the ground who can not only champion the very mission of Breaker—redefine education, create entrepreneurs, and design change, but they now have the tools to do it.

I’m looking forward to seeing how the impact of this program continues to ripple through the educational institutions here in Portland, for both the student and the educators.

Check out some of the work we did here: