Alumni, News

PIE alum Vadio partners with Shazam

Shazam now delivers the video of that song you’re trying to identify. All thanks to PIE alum Vadio.

Vadio-powered video channels make it possible for people to consume music video content through the sites and apps they already use. By partnering with companies like Shazam, Vadio anticipates video views to skyrocket month over month. Vadio music video channels can be assembled in several different ways. Now when a person Shazams a song, they are presented with a music video channel. Video channels can also be curated by editors, automatically generated by trending data or built by brands to reflect genres or the interests and attributes of their audience segments.

With this partnership, Shazam is extending the opportunity to engage audiences in more than 190 countries with highly engaging videos of the latest artists and popular music from around the world. Currently, there are over 1,800 artists verified on Shazam that are sharing content with their over 3 billion cumulative followers. The addition of music video playlists powered by Vadio makes it possible for brands to connect audiences through content that is relevant, targeted and highly engaging.

For more information, see the Shazam press release.

Alumni, Community, News

PIE alum news roundup

While we spent the past few months rambling about our current PIE class, the PIE alum network was still busy making things happen.

Awards, features, and funding—here’s a brief round up of what some of them have been up to:

Missed PIE’s Demo Day a few weeks ago? Catch all the pitches from PIE Demo Day 2014 here.

Advice, Alumni, Mentors

First Step of Developer Marketing is to Stop Marketing

Developers have a keen ability to ignore most traditional marketing. Including “developer marketing” in this post’s title alone may have raised the hackles of most developers who read it. Yet, developer marketing is necessary for an increasing number of companies.

There are a growing number of APIs, which allow developers to create something new on top of data or functionality created by someone else. As an incredible side effect, many companies have found themselves with a developer audience. Perhaps more amazing are the many companies whose customers are all coders. Marketing to these developers can be difficult for marketers that don’t know tech and similarly tough for geeks that don’t know marketing.

Like anything worth doing, it’s hard work, but I think the approach is fairly simple–it just doesn’t look like traditional marketing.

I’m a programmer, but I’m also an accidental marketer. These days I write more lines about code than lines of code. For five years I tracked API growth as a journalist and analyst at ProgrammableWeb. This background led, perhaps inevitably, to working for API providers.

My approach has three parts, all focused squarely on developers:

  1. Solve their problems
  2. Make their lives easier
  3. Show them off to others

The first seems obvious, yet we’ve probably all experienced a technology solution in search of a problem. To get any lasting adoption from developers, you have to start with a problem. That’s why infrastructure APIs like Orchestrate have become so popular. Developers like unique puzzles, not repetitive work. You can help developers understand the problems you solve by providing example use cases. Write blog posts, tutorials and documentation that inspires developers to see what’s possible.

To feel the maximum impact, your solution should also make a developer’s life easier. It is absolutely possible to solve a problem in a way that becomes difficult to implement. Instead, you want to get them addicted to your simplicity. This is where developer marketing really strays from traditional marketing. To make a developer’s life easier, you need to focus on streamlined documentation and full-featured client libraries. This means you need to write code.

Lastly, make this marketing process repeat with others by showing off your best developers. Create an app gallery with screenshots and links to their website. Write blog posts that tell their story. If you’re pitching press, turn your PR machine toward promoting your developers rather than promoting your product.

These three parts of marketing will endear you to a developer audience. Nobody can raise issues with solving problems, making their lives easier and showing off successful work. Developers probably won’t even realize you’re marketing to them. And in a way, you aren’t.

Adam DuVander, Developer Relations at Orchestrate. Find him on Twitter: @adamd

PIE Demo Day is on October 24, 2014 at 2pm. Click here to join the event livestream.

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!

Alumni, Community

5 Questions with Vadio’s Elliot Swan

We recently shared news that PIE Alum Vadio, the platform that allows streaming music services to sync their audio with corresponding music videos, had raised $2 million.

Now we’re all aware of the fact that no company gets to $2 million without first facing a few challenges and tough decisions. So today we’ve caught up with Elliot Swan, cofounder of Vadio, and asked him to give us a glimpse into some of his experiences along the way.

1. When did you decide to jump ship and start your own company?

We had been working on Vadio part-time on the side and had a basic prototype put together that we would slowly continue to build and show around. I remember one evening suddenly coming to the realization that if I really wanted to see whether this thing would fly, I needed to take the full leap. And I knew I couldn’t live the rest of my life always wondering if something could have come of this had I only taken a risk and tried.

2. What was one of the biggest challenges entering this industry?

The music industry is notoriously complicated, so getting buy-in from all the relevant stakeholders took a lot of work. I see too many music startups try to brashly jump into the middle of the industry and claim they’re here to change the world without bothering to get to know people or understand how things work. It can be tough, but patience and humility go a long way.

3. How has being in the Portland community helped your company become what it is today?

Portland has a great startup community, and everybody wants to see everybody succeed. It’s amazing being able to walk down the street to a handful of other startups and ask for input.

4. What’s a small change you’ve recently made at Vadio that’s resulted in large positive results?

Anybody over here would tell you I love A/B tests. One we recently ran tested various wording options for the buttons that launch our players — we increased click-throughs by 10% just by adding a single word!

5. PIE’s 2014 class is already one-month in to the program. Having been through PIE and now a couple years out, what’s one piece of advice would you give to its participating founders?

For the next 3 months you will be constantly surrounded by super-smart people. Get to know all of them! You have no idea how valuable they will be to you and you will be to them over the years.

6. (Bonus question:) What’s your favorite music video?

Hands-down, Dance Thief by Con Bro Chill. It deserves way more views.

I had’t heard of Con Bro Chill before this, but the moment I started watching their music video, I knew it had PDX + weird written all over it. Portland—let’s bump up these views!

Advice, Alumni, Community

Interns; if I had any right now, I’d make them write this for me

If you’re considering taking on interns, you should seriously take a moment to consider the pros and cons.

Pros:

  • Coffee delivery service *
  • Work no one wants to do gets done
  • They have no bad habits yet, so you can teach them yours
  • You are directly responsible for teaching someone

Cons:

  • You are directly responsible for teaching someone
  • They require more direction & attention than you probably expect
  • Things get done slowly

So you’ve weighed your options and want to bring on some interns. Good luck. Here are a few things we learned from having interns at Switchboard that you should do (or avoid).

Let them get their feet wet on day one

Find a project they can work on that doesn’t require a lot of your time. We had our interns build out an internal dashboard. This was a great opportunity to see just how much they really knew and how they worked. It also allowed them to start working without the overhead of diving into our code.

Review your code with them

Since you’re molding these duckling minds, you should review your work with them. This provides a perfect opportunity for you to teach them all of your bad habits.

Check in regularly

Something I was not great at was checking in regularly. It is easy to forget where they’re at in their abilities, so check in regularly to make sure they aren’t bored or in over their heads.

Interact with your interns outside the office

You should feed them, especially if they’re unpaid interns.

Be nice to your interns

This should go without saying. I just wanted to include this gif.

Include your interns in your company culture

You may be hiring one of these ducklings down the road, so now is the perfect time to make sure they fit with your team.

* I never once made my interns get my coffee. Go ahead and ask them. That said, you totally could.

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?
Yes.

Alumni, News

Ruby Gem now on Orchestrate

Orchestrate, the PIE alum that makes databases simple, have made them even simpler with a new Ruby Gem. Over the past few weeks, Matthew Lyon and Orchestrate have been working to create a new Ruby client for their Rest API. The new Ruby Gem is based on a library that was put together by Orchestrate customer James Carrasque, and it helps resolve performance issues that working with API clients for HTTP services have had in the past.

Lyon says he’ll continue working to provide first-class experiences of the Orchestrate API, and we look forward to seeing more. Watch their development in progress on Github, or find the Ruby client here.

ruby

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!