Community

1776 Challenge Cup Portland: Apply today

PIE is proud to continue our collaboration with our friends at 1776, as we once again serve as the host for the first round of the 1776 Challenge Cup, a startup competition that has founders all over the world pitching their startup ideas at local and regional competitions with the hopes of making it to the main stage for the global finals.

Fun fact: One of the winners of the last Portland competition, NoAppFee.com, went on to win the People’s Choice Award at the global finals in Washington, DC.

Anyone is welcome to apply to the 1776 Challenge Cup Portland competition. You don’t even have to be located in Portland—just so long as you can make it to Portland for the event. Likewise, Portland-based companies are welcome to apply to any of the local competitions, around the world.

What types of startups should apply? 1776 is specifically interested in startups who are using their creativity to solve problems with civic impact. So if you’re working on solutions for cities, education, energy, food, health, money, security, and/or transportation—or you can tell a compelling story about how your startup positively impacts any of those areas—you’ve got a good chance of being selected to pitch.

Applications are currently open. They close June 9, 2017. The pitch competition will be held in Portland on July 6, 2017.

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.

Community

Join us for Portland Startup Week 2017

Now in its third year, Portland Startup Week is a (little longer than a) weeklong celebration of the founders, companies, and supporters who make the Portland startup community what it is. PIE is proud to have been the founding organizer for this event, and we’re happy to continue as the organizer of the event, this year.

Because it’s important for startups. And for Portland.

From reviving classic Portland startup gatherings to discussing how we become an even better startup community, the week promises something for everyone. If you’re in Portland — or close enough to swing by — we’d love to have you participate.

For more information or to stay in the loop, visit Portland Startup Week, follow @pdxstartupweek on Twitter, or like Portland Startup Week on Facebook.

Community

A sampling of PIE in 2016

It’s that time of year. You know, that time when you’re supposed to take a moment to reflect on your organization and its accomplishments over the past year? Or maybe it’s more that your team has been so heads-down-busily-quiet over the last few months that you want folks to know what you’ve been doing. And your team hasn’t been publishing as much as you thought they would. Because they’ve been working on any number of things… Read More

Community

What experiment is PIE cooking up next?

It’s no secret. We’ve been rethinking the Portland Incubator Experiment. (It’s an experiment, after all.)

What began eight years ago as a collaboration between the largest privately held creative agency in the world, Wieden+Kennedy, and the Portland startup scene led to a coworking space, an early-stage and mid-stage startup accelerator, a corporate accelerator, hackdays, startup events, and a hub for community, among other things. And all these iterations have been valuable.

As we’ve been evaluating PIE, we wanted to continue to provide value to the startup community—in the broadest sense—and use our resources in the best way possible.

So after a number of conversations with startups, mentors, advisors, peers, and patrons, we’ve hit upon what we should be doing next. And now we’re ready to share the next phase of the experiment with you.

Introducing the PIE Cookbook

 

The PIE Cookbook will be an open source guide for creating, building, and improving your startup accelerator. Starting one from scratch? Already have one running? Traditional startup accelerator, new take on the accelerator mode, or corporate incubator looking for inspiration the PIE cookbook will have something for you. Once complete, it will contain everything we’ve learned over the eight years of running PIE—successes, failures, and everything in between. What’s more, it will be completely free and open source so that anyone, anywhere, can put what we’ve learned to good use.

Why are we open sourcing our program and processes?

 

First, we believe the most efficient way to scale PIE is to provide direct access to our learnings. Second, we believe each and every community—enabled with the right tools and insights—has the potential to assist and accelerate promising folks further and faster toward success. Third, we believe there’s no secret formula to running an accelerator, and that sharing is the best way to help us all help each other.

And that’s just good for everyone.

Even if all we manage to do is simply document the PIE process, we’ll consider this project a success. But we hope the PIE Cookbook is the beginning of something much more meaningful. As an open source project, you will have the opportunity take part in creating the most effective documentation for startup accelerators, ever. And anyone can use the PIE Cookbook as the basis for documenting and running an accelerator program—whether it follows the PIE path or just avoids our mistakes.

If this sounds interesting to you, please take a look at the PIE Cookbook Kickstarter campaign and join us on this project.

More to come…

 

We realize that many of the folks who follow PIE are founders. And their interests lie not in building an accelerator but in being accelerated. Rest assured, we haven’t forgotten our roots as a program designed to build better founders. There’s more coming in that regard. 2016 is going to be a lot of fun, and a lot of hardwork, and the PIE Cookbook is just the first experiment we have planned for this year.

So please stay tuned. We’re excited to share the next phase of the experiment as it comes together.

Advice, Community

Want to build a startup accelerator?

At PIE, we’re extremely lucky in that we get to talk to amazing founders and startups, day in and day out. But they’re not the only folks interested in chatting with us. We also get a lot—a lot—of inquiries about how PIE came to be. And how they can go about building a startup accelerator for their respective communities or cities.

So we took a few minutes to crank out some content in this regard, featuring the seven easy steps for building a startup accelerator.

This isn’t a guide. Or a regimen. This isn’t the answer. This is simply how PIE became an accelerator. There is no right timespan for this. For some communities, it happens more quickly and organically. For others, it takes a long, long, long time.

For more, read “Want to start an accelerator?

 

Community, News

Getting an early start on 2016: Accelerator and startup opportunities

Where did the year go? We’ve been meeting with awesome startups. And working with amazing accelerators. And helping our alums. And, and, and… time just flew by.

But we know you’ve been busy too. So we wanted to take a few minutes to highlight some opportunities that you might have missed—both for awesome startups and those who are interested in helping awesome startups.

1776 Challenge Cup Portland

This year, PIE is proud to partner with our peers back east to play the local host for the 1776 Challenge Cup competition. The free, quick pitch competition provides startups an opportunity to showcase their efforts to their local community and the possibility of moving on to larger and larger stages at regional and global competitions.

All of the regional winners and a host of wild cards will be invited to participate in the Challenge Cup Global Finals next June in Washington, D.C. There, they’ll compete for over $1 million in prizes, as well as spend time with the investors, customers, media and other key connections that can help them succeed on a global scale.

PIE is currently seeking startups for the December 10, 2015, local competition at OMSI. We’re looking for startups that are providing solutions for: cities, education, energy, food, health, money, security, and transportation.

Working on something that fits? Please submit your 1776 Challenge Cup application no later than 11:59PM Pacific Time on November 30, 2015.

For more information or to attend the event, visit 1776 Challenge Cup Local: Portland, hosted by PIE.

Interested in helping startups?

Portland is home to a number of incubators and accelerators that support both local startups—and entrepreneurs from around the world.

If you’ve ever been interested in helping startups, there are a number of interesting opportunities to get involved:

(Image courtesy Hockley Photography. Used with permission.)

Advice, Community, Mentors

How to filter through all your startup advice this Thanksgiving

“Here’s what you should do.” It’s a sentence you’ve probably heard a lot. Friends, family, peers, mentors, investors—they all have helpful advice, but when your cousin Billy gives you business advice this Thanksgiving that conflicts with advice an investor gave you just last week, what should you do?

First, take a big bite of stuffing.

Then think about it. Advice and feedback is important, but you simply can’t weigh all feedback the same. Startups at PIE have spoken to peers, investors, and dozens of mentors over the past few months and here’s how they’ve sorted through it all.

How invested are they? How much care / concern do they have for you and your goals?

Kai, cofounder of Krumplr thinks about this every time he chats with someone. “You learn a lot of how to read people over time—customers, your bosses, people you manage, and across many different cultures. I start out by saying, ‘Does the person I’m talking to like me or not? Does the person I’m talking to care or not?’ And that’s something that you can very quickly establish. If it’s a positive relationship, I multiple pretty much any critique I get by a factor of five.”

You might meet with someone who doesn’t care and isn’t willing to put in the intellectual effort. Their feedback may be vague—platitudes in a way—like “focus your message”, “find your target audience.” It might be helpful to ask probing questions to find out if they really understood your problem.

There are on the other hand also people who don’t really care but are still willing to put in the intellectual challenge. “Those are good people to listen to,” says Kai. And finally, people who care and invest their time and effort to understanding your problem and thinking about your solution. That’s a given, pay attention to their input.

How experienced are they?

This one’s a little trickier to navigate because it’s often easy to confuse loud volume and confident delivery with actual success and experience. Aunt Susan’s confident remarks on how you should launch your business may sound extremely persuasive, but being an excellent baker doesn’t mean she has relevant experience in your industry. The same is true with anyone else who gives you feedback—investors, mentors, peers. Just because something worked a certain way in their field doesn’t always mean it’ll translate to yours. Levi from Droplr looks for people who have a track record of experience and success. He’ll give them extra attention if they’ve achieved success in his particular industry.

Are they willing to tell you the truth?

Kevin from Nutmeg appreciates individuals who exhibit a sense of trust with no hidden agenda. “The most value we received from PIE were from mentors who weren’t afraid to call bullshit right away. They’d say, ‘you should do x, and here’s why.’” Are the people you’re hearing from worried about offending you or hurting you? You might want to be careful if all of a mentor’s feedback is as sweet as that pumpkin pie. There’s nothing wrong with good feedback, especially if you’re on your A game as a startup, but make sure the person you’re talking to isn’t afraid to make you cry if they need to.

Are you receiving repetitive feedback?

Imagine arriving home on Thanksgiving day only to find your friends and family sitting in a semicircle around the front door. You soon realize that this is a planned intervention. They have a message to tell you—it’s important and everyone seems to realize it except you. (Let’s hope this doesn’t actually happen!) The point is, while there are multiple ways to run a business, hearing repetitive advice from a number of people is probably a good indicator that it’s worth listening to.

What’s your gut telling you?

Lastly, here’s the comment I heard from nearly every startup. Learn to listen to your gut. Ultimately, it’s your business. Deep down inside you know where you want to steer this ship, and you wouldn’t feel comfortable going against this anyway. Use feedback as a way to rethink your direction, but at the end of the day, if you can’t convince yourself that the advice you’re hearing is good and true, you might just have to go with your gut.

And while you’re having that Thanksgiving conversation with your friends and family, don’t forget to get seconds on that stuffing.

One can always make better decisions with stuffing.