Alumni

Want to work for a PIE alum?

We’re always pleased to see our startups growing and hiring talented folks. If you’re looking for a new gig or are simply curious about the roles available at PIE alum companies, please consider the following job openings:

Alumni

PIE alum Uncorked Studios partners with adidas on “All Day”

When PIE alum Uncorked Studios began rethinking fitness tracking technology with adidas, the team was driven to get to the core of a nagging question:

Your health is so much more than just your daily activities. It’s a reflection of your holistic well-being, from getting enough sleep and proper nutrition to practicing mindfulness and participating in physical activity.

So why is it so many digital fitness products only focus on measuring performance with binary, isolated pieces of the puzzle: solely counting steps, calories, or minutes?

The results of that exploration? All Day, a collaboration between Uncorked and adidas that was recently released.

Alumni, News

PIE alum Lytics selected for new Snap accelerator

It’s always nice to see PIE alums getting interesting opportunities. That’s why we’re incredibly happy to report that PIE alum Lytics will be participating in the new accelerator for Snapchat‘s parent company, Snap.

According to Fast Company:

R/GA executive vice-president and global chief operating officer Stephen Plumlee says the focus of the program is to explore what the next wave of marketing technology will be, given the prominence of social platforms and mobile engagement alongside the rise of AI, bots, and other analytics and personalization enabling technologies. “We worked to identify startups creating the products, tools, and services that will enable brands and agencies to leverage the full potential, reach, and consumer data that platforms like Snapchat can provide, and enable them to engage consumers with more relevant, strategic, and personalized content,” says Plumlee. “We specifically looked at startups who were making it easier for brands and advertisers to leverage social platforms as a whole.”

Alumni, Community

Cloudability acquires Australian company, plans move to new office

Happy Pi Day!

One of the most active PIE alums from our first accelerator class, Cloudability, continues to grow — through both acquisitions and hires — and solidify its position in the Portland startup community.

A couple of newsworthy items this week, an acquisition and new office space:

Fun fact: The new Cloudability office was previously home to PIE alums Urban Airship and Simple, among others.

Oh. And Cloudability is hiring, too.

Alumni, Community

Have fun chasing unicorns. We’ll be over here with our zebras.

If there’s one thing we’ve learned after nearly 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.

Long story short, we do not chase unicorns. Because we do not have the resources that will help those types of companies. We have different strengths.

At PIE, we have found our motivations aligning with our founders’ motivations. We are here to build better founders. And a better community. We’re here to make new mistakes. And to help Portland be the next great version of itself. We’re not in it for the money, because honestly, there are millions of easier ways to make money than running an early stage startup accelerator — or helping other accelerators help startups.

So we’re an accelerator without the unicorns. So what do we have? What types of companies do well as part of the PIE family? To whom are we being helpful? What companies do well in Portland? And what were we supposed to call those companies?

Well, thanks to Jennifer Brandel and PIE alum Mara Zepeda, we now have a term for the types of companies that PIE loves: zebras.

Why zebras?

  • To state the obvious: unlike unicorns, zebras are real.
  • Zebra companies are both black and white: they are profitable and improve society. They won’t sacrifice one for the other.
  • Zebras are also mutualistic: by banding together in groups, they protect and preserve one another. Their individual input results in stronger collective output.
  • Zebra companies are built with peerless stamina and capital efficiency, as long as conditions allow them to survive.

Sound like something you’re building? Join your peers at Zebras Unite. And consider attending DazzleCon in October. And, of course, we’d love to hear from you, too. We could always use more zebras in the dazzle that is Portland.

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!