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.”

Community, events

Recapping PIE Demo Day 2019

It’s good to be back.

Whether you had the opportunity to join us — either in person or on the livestream — or not, we wanted to make sure that you had access to the pitches from PIE Demo Day 2019. All told, 13 different startups took the stage to share what they were building. In show order, that included:

We took the opportunity to slice up the event into individual pitches to make it easier to digest. (But if you want to watch the whole thing — beginning to end — that’s an option, as well.)

As always, we had Aaron Hockley photographed the event. Those PIE Demo Day photos can be found on Flickr and are licensed under Creative Commons with attribution.

PIE Demo Day 2019

To stay up to date with the latest news from PIE, please consider subscribing to our newsletter or follow us on social media.

Community, events

Indie.vc v3 Winter Tour stops by Portland

If you’ve been keeping tabs on the changing world of venture capital, you’ve no doubt come across Indie.vc, one of the premier funds experimenting with new ways of financing businesses — without killing the business in the process.

We wanted a path that gave founders time to deeply understand the levers of their business and the needs of their customers that can only come from focusing on profitability and revenue growth. We wanted founders to experience that the constraints of scarce resources could become superpowers as they began to scale. We wanted founders to see beyond a binary world of “going big or going home” into a world full of alternative outcomes that wouldn’t require them to trade a lifetime of ownership and optionality for a seed round today.

Sound interesting? Well, they’ll be swinging by Portland this month. And PIE is helping them out by hosting an event for the community. It’s all part of the desire to get back into being an accessible resource for the Portland startup community and the broader startup community, in general.

Needless to say, we’d love to have you join us. The event will be held at Autodesk (221 SE Ankeny, the home of PIE Shop, on January 22, 2019. Doors around 5:30PM with the event kicking off at 6:00PM. The event is free and open to the public. We simply ask that you RSVP at Indie.vc.

Looking forward to seeing you on Tuesday the 22nd. And happy new year!

NOTE: If you’d like to stay in the loop on future events at PIE, please consider subscribing to our newsletter, subscribing to this blog, following us on Medium, or following us on Twitter and Instagram.

Community, News

Please join us — when else? — Pi Day for PIE Demo Day 2019

It’s hard to believe that it’s been a little more than four years since the last PIE Demo Day. Time, as they tend to say, does indeed fly.

During that hiatus, we’ve managed to accomplish quite a bit. Quietly, mind you. Out of the limelight of the stage. But we’ve still been hard at work. Accomplishing stuff.

Since our startups last took the stage in 2014, PIE has…

Still, we’d be lying if we didn’t admit to missing PIE Demo Days. Quite a bit. Not for all of the stressful preparation. Or the seemingly never-ending pitch practice and critiques. Or the nerve jangling day-of delivery.

Honestly, we don’t miss that all that much.

What we do miss about PIE Demo Days, however, is that they consistently served as a brief moment of celebration where we could come together to embrace and support some of the awesome founders building amazing companies in our midst. So that we could all gather together — new founders and serial entrepreneurs, established companies and startups, would-be entrepreneurs and their soon-to-be mentors — as a community.

So, with that in mind, we’re happy to announce that — 100 days from today — PIE will be hosting PIE Demo Day 2019 on, appropriately enough, March 14, 2019. Pi Day. This time around, we’ll be taking the stage at the historic Aladdin Theater in southeast Portland, a stone’s throw from the Dairy Building where the latest class of PIE spent much of 2018. Best of all, the Aladdin is our largest venue yet. Meaning that we can bring together more of the community, in person, than we’ve ever had the opportunity to do before.

As always, the event is free of charge, but space is limited. Seats are general admission. If you choose to make a donation to PIE, that will give you access to a block of reserved seats, front and center. If you’re worried about figuring out childcare so that you can attend? Stop worrying. Childcare will be provided, free of charge to attendees. We’ve arranged for our go-to photographer, Hockley Photography, to capture the event for posterity. And, as in previous years, we will be partnering with Blaze Streaming Media to ensure that family and friends from around the world can tune into the event from the comfort of their Web browser if they’re not able to attend in person.

Presenting companies will consist of a mixture of both PIE and PIE Shop companies, as well as some updates from PIE alums and our partnering organizations. (Speaking of partners, if you’re interested in joining on as a sponsor of the event, please let us know.)

And, of course, it wouldn’t be a PIE Demo Day if we didn’t have a few surprises to reveal.

Please grab a ticket and block the time on your calendar. This event usually sells out fairly quickly. And we’re sincerely hoping you can join us. Because we’re looking forward to sharing all of our amazing companies and awesome founders with you.

For more information or to RSVP, visit PIE Demo Day 2019.

Mentors, News

PIE announces partnership with Stoel Rives

We’ve had the pleasure of partnering with any number of corporations throughout our experiments. Now, we’re partnering with Portland’s largest law firm to ensure that startups in our community have efficient access to mentorship from legal experts.

This collaboration will allow PIE to offer its startups resources and mentorship opportunities with experienced Stoel Rives attorneys who focus their practices on working with emerging companies. The partnership marks another step in Stoel Rives’ ongoing efforts to support the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Portland.

Originally founded as a collaboration between Portland based creative agency Wieden+Kennedy and the Portland startup community, PIE has continued to partner with private industry to support its ongoing operations. Since the venture was founded in 2009, financial and in-kind support has been provided by leading companies including Autodesk, CENTRL Office, Coca-Cola, Daimler, Environments, Google, Intel, Intrinsic Ventures, Nike, Target, Uncorked Studios, and W+K.

“Through its community-building efforts, PIE has become the de facto hub of the community that supports early stage tech startups in Portland  — and their expanding efforts into manufacturing and consumer products promise to increase the gravity of the organization,” said Brie Bridegum, lawyer with Stoel Rives. “I’m excited to become more engaged with PIE and its programs and I know a numberof my peers at Stoel Rives share in this excitement.”

“Unless you’re among our alums or one of the hundreds of mentors who volunteer for our programs, it’s difficult to describe the exact value that PIE provides to the broader Portland startup community,” said Rick Turoczy, cofounder and general manager of PIE. “That’s why it’s always heartening to have organizations such as Stoel Rives proactively approach us to provide support for our programs and the startups in our community. We’re looking forward to this partnership providing streamlined access to a whole new group of mentors with significant legal insights.”

Through the partnership, the attorneys in Stoel Rives’ Emerging Companies practice group will provide practical and thorough advice to a diverse range of companies that are forming, financing, hiring, creating and protecting innovations, as well as resolving disputes that may arise along the way. The team brings a combination of legal knowledge, entrepreneurial thinking and understanding of the financial markets as they help entrepreneurs navigate from startup through sale or public offering. 

Community, News

Beta testing PIE Shop, application deadline announced

While PIE has amassed nearly a decade of experience in assisting and accelerating early stage startups, the bulk of that experimentation has been with software companies. So when we embarked on a new project to apply PIE’s startup accelerator methodology to companies that manufacture physical objects, we wanted to be sure we knew how those types of companies would make use of the physical space we provide.

We understand how much space software companies use… but how much space do startups who make things use?

In an effort to answer that question, we did what we usually do. We began experimenting.

PIE Shop beta cohort

We’ve been quietly beta testing our PIE Shop space with a few different physical object startups, who were specifically selected from early applicants to help test drive the space and help us gain a better understanding of their needs and use. Given that the experiment seems to be going well, we felt it appropriate to share those companies with you, as well.

Bip: Bip is a small format connected device designed to be worn by residents of assisted living facilities as a means of opening lines of communication among residents, staff, and family, and providing critical data points that inform other assisted living management solutions.

CMDSense: CMDSense uses a variety of connected devices and other tools to gather outdoor and indoor data in cities in order to help transform cities into places that benefit every urban citizen.

Dorsum: Carrying unsupported weight puts strain on the back, increasing the risk for injury. Dorsum has designed and are developing the AdaptiveSpine™, a spinal exoskeleton and supportive device that transfers weight and stress to the hips.

Foundry Collaborative: The team who built the Adidas connected ball has spun off from the apparel company to continue to innovate on the technology they created. They will serve as both a PIE Shop company and mentors in residence for the other companies in the space.

And we’re also happy to host a couple of community pursuits that help make Portland a better place.

PDX Women in Tech: Established in 2012, we are a community-based non-profit organization. Our purpose is to strengthen the Portland women in tech community by offering: educational programs, partnerships, mentorships, resources and opportunities.

Portland IQ: A public private partnership formed when Portland’s rapidly maturing higher-ed anchor institutions recognized that shared goals, overlapping constituencies, close proximity, increasing community investment, and complementary real-estate development projects presented a rare opportunity for collaboration — collaboration that would provide exponentially more value as a combined effort than it would as individual projects.

Adding additional companies to PIE Shop

After beta testing the space, we are confident that we can likely fit one or two more companies into the space. All companies selected to participate receive free office space, access to the Autodesk desktop manufacturing facility, free use of Autodesk’s entire suite of software, and the opportunity to take part in the PIE program of mentorship and acceleration.

So if you’re interested in applying to be one of those companies, please complete the PIE Shop application. Applications will close September 16, 2018, at 11:59PM Pacific Time.

NOTE: If you have already applied, you do not need to resubmit your application. However, you are more than welcome to submit, again.