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.

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.

Community

PIE 2017: A rebuilding year

We’ve been taking some time to look back at 2017, as most of us are wont to do this time of year. And now seemed like an appropriate time to share some of these reflections. Partially because it was six years ago last week that PIE staged our very first Demo Day, January 17, 2012.

pie-demo-day-1-2012

As with any good reflection, we started with what we promised to do last year at this time. And to my surprise—I say, “surprise” because it didn’t feel like we accomplished much—PIE actually accomplished most of what we set out to do for the year:

✅ Completing the PIE Cookbook
✅ Expanding the PIE Cookbook community
✅ Increasing efforts around diversity and inclusion in our community
✅ Exploring new and different applications of the accelerator model
✅ Continuing to support existing partnerships
❌ Creating more content, publishing more often, and generally being more transparent

And in addition to what we set out to do, we also managed to hire a new program manager; not only support but strengthen our partnerships with Built Oregon, CENTRL Office, and Prosper Portland; organize another successful Portland Startup Week; proudly watch PIE alums like Cloudability, dotdotdash, Droplr, Lytics, Outdoor Project, Supportland, Switchboard, Uncorked Studios, and more have a strong year; and took equal pride as members of the PIE family chased new pursuits like Reflect and Torch.

Looking back, it seemed like it was a pretty productive year. So I had to keep asking myself why it felt so frustrating. Why was I “surprised” that we accomplished these things? And why was it that I still felt like we didn’t get anything done?

And then it dawned on me. It was because I didn’t feel like we had an impact. We accomplished tasks. We nudged projects forward. We kept a few things going. But we didn’t create change. We expanded our community but we didn’t strengthen our community. We didn’t push the experiment forward.

So it didn’t feel very good. It was a year of frustration, a year of questions, and year of reboots. It was a rebuilding year at best. And a gap year at worst.

But that cloud, like many, has a silver lining. The year of frustration and cynicism and disappointment also provided vantage. Enabling us to step back and to objectively reassess what it was we were doing with PIE. It gave us the opportunity to truly question what we were hoping to accomplish. And why were doing it. And what was working.

Now, we’ve realized that the main experiment we were pursuing in 2017 was a failure. Trying to work behind the scenes with other accelerator programs—a move we assumed would allow PIE to scale its impact most efficiently while providing a revenue stream for the organization—was a flop.

That wasn’t what the Portland startup community needed. That wasn’t what founders needed. That wasn’t a sustainable business model. And that wasn’t a viable means of expanding the sort of impact we had hoped to provide. Truth be told, it wasn’t even an effective means of providing the same level of impact we had managed to provide in previous years. At best, we had gone backwards. At worst, we had become completely irrelevant.

That said, like all experiments, it was good to pursue it. To test and to learn. But we’re also completely willing to admit that the experiment was a failed one. Like many experiments we’ve run over nearly a decade of PIE.

To make matters even worse, we recognized telltale signs of bonds weakening in our community. We found fragmentation and confusion. And we found folks feeling detached and disconnected. In reality, we found our community was suffering from many of the same issues that had originally inspired us to start PIE in the first place. Only with an exponentially larger group of people.

And that, to us, seemed like an opportunity.

So we hit the brakes and began listening again. Listening for what the community needed. Listening for what startups needed. And listening for what PIE could do to have a meaningful and significant impact in our community.

As such, much of 2017 was taken up with rethinking and reinventing PIE and then talking with anyone who would listen. Revising. And then talking with everyone again. Listening to their suggestions and critiques. Revising… You get the picture. We’ve torn it all down. Rethought everything. And all of that—all of that nudging things forward and rethinking everything and listening listening listening—has us prepared to dive headlong in 2018.

What we’ve come up with is a new experiment. With a new version of PIE that we hope will be a better match for the actual needs of the Portland startup community. And one that has a demonstrable, tangible, and measurable impact on both Portland and PIE, itself, this year.

So what does PIE 2018 look like? We’re glad you asked. And we’re looking forward to sharing some of those details in our next post.

Community

Longing for a startup pitch event like PIE Demo Day? Get ready to be happy

It’s been a while since we’ve had a PIE Demo Day. We’ve helped host pitch competitions, sure. But we haven’t had a Demo Day. And Demo Days are different. Attending, you get that feeling that everyone is in it together, that everyone in the audience is there to help everyone on stage, and that every speaker is pulling for every other speaker.

And while we’re a ways off from any future PIE Demo Days, there is an event coming up next week that reminds us very much of our Demo Day dynamic: PitchBlack.

Why: To connect the region’s growing entrepreneurial ecosystem with the increasing number of African-American founders.

This event is the brainchild of Stephen Green @PDXStephenG, economist, entrepreneur & strong advocate of CHEATING to support small businesses. By day he is the Community Manager for Townsquared where he is engaging area small businesses to support each other and share knowledge. Stephen, along with others in the community have been looking to spread broader narratives about black founders locally.

The event will be held August 30, 2017, at Instrument in Portland, Oregon. Tickets are available for $22 and all proceeds go to the cash prizes for the winning pitches.

If you can’t attend but are still interested in supporting the event, Business for a Better Portland highlights other ways folks can contribute.

For more information or to RSVP, visit PitchBlack.

Community, News

Not just tech, anymore: PIE explores support for consumer products companies

Historically, we’ve focused on tech companies with PIE — and more explicitly SaaS and mobile companies. Usually with a B2B bent. But that hasn’t prevented hundreds of consumer products companies with compelling concepts from reaching out to us.

From clothing to mead to protein bars to box subscriptions, we’ve had the pleasure of comparing notes with all kinds of startups with all kinds of business models. It’s been educational for us, over time. And it has piqued our curiosity more than once.

Now, we’re moving beyond simply being curious to exploring more of these opportunities. And while we’re still in the planning stages, we wanted to make sure that folks knew a little bit more about our history with consumer products and what we’re doing as we lead up to our expanded scope.

Our first foray into the world of consumer goods was with brand partners like Coca-Cola, Daimler, Nike, and Target where we were fortunate to learn about the ways successful consumer goods companies approached and collaborated with their respective markets — and where curiosity was driving these large corporations to explore other opportunities.

Next, we had the opportunity to collaborate with the Startup PDX Challenge, a City of Portland sponsored incubator that PIE has worked with for the past three years. During that time, we had the chance to see a broader spectrum of the kinds of companies were being built in Portland, what types of challenges were impacting those founders, and which types of companies seemed to generate the highest likelihood of traction and success.

Now, we’re getting more engaged with a broader range of consumer goods through our partnership with Built Oregon, a 501(c)3 not for profit organization focused on consumer goods companies throughout the state of Oregon.

And this year, we’re proud to be sponsors of the inaugural Built Up Festival, a first of its kind event that brings both startups and established companies from around the state of Oregon together to discuss the opportunities and challenges that consumer goods companies face.

To us, it was important in year one to really connect the dots of the consumer product legacy and impact in Oregon. It’s a legacy that is stitched together through stories, insights, and a sense of collaboration. In that vein, we have set up a series of fireside chats, conversations that will look to bridge the rich legacy and highlight the current trends and innovations.

From food and beverage to apparel, footwear, and product design the founders who are participating in these conversations have stories that will not only instigate discussions, but also inspire the next generation of consumer leaders.

Attendees will hear from companies like Deschutes Brewery, Hanna Andersson, Lucy Activewear, and Society Nine, as well as some of the most promising startups in the consumer good industry.

But it’s not just about presentations, it’s about conversations. The event will feature opportunities for discussions and brainstorming among founders, buyers, and investors, enabling folks to make connections that are often hard to come by in the real world. Because those sorts of connections and peer mentoring are what PIE is all about.

More soon on PIE opportunities for consumer products startups, but if you’re building a company focused on clothing, beverage, food, hardware, tools, vehicles, or any other sort of consumer-facing product, we’d love to hear from you.

For more information on the event or to RSVP, visit Built Up Festival. For more information on the organization, visit Built Oregon. And if you’re a consumer goods startup, please stay tuned to PIE as we ramp up this next phase of our efforts.

Community, News

Think you can’t make it to the 1776 Challenge Cup Portland? Think again

If you’ve had any experience with PIE in the past — be it events, visiting mentors, or Demo Days — you know that we love our livestreaming. So when it comes to something like the 1776 Challenge Cup Portland, what are we going to do?

That’s right. Livestream it.

Admittedly, we would much rather have you joining us in person, but we also realize that might not be possible for everyone. So if you can’t be at Revolution Hall on July 6, 2017, at 6:00PM PDT, then please join us from the comfort of your own web browser. And it’s all thanks to our friends at Blaze Streaming Media.

1776-challenge-cup-2017

Click to view the Livestream of 1776 Challenge Cup Portland 2017

Or, if you’d like to have the opportunity to “like” (👍) along with the event, please feel free to tune in via Facebook Live.

Screen Shot on 2017-07-05 at 22-02-53

Community, News

1776 Challenge Cup Portland 2017: And the startups pitching are…

Thanks again to all of the amazing startups who applied to be part of the first stage of the global 1776 Challenge Cup competition. We’re proud to be the hosts in Portland. So proud in fact, that everyone who applied was automatically advanced to the second round of the next PIE cohort selection.

Now, it’s time to get down to the competition itself. And we’re very excited to reveal the companies we’ve selected to take the stage:

  • American Leaseback, who is rethinking home buying to make it more accessible
  • C3Backflow, who is improving the water we drink
  • CMDSense, who is transforming modern construction
  • Curio Learning, who is enabling educators to better collaborate
  • Democracy Squared, a democracy toolbox
  • eBundler, who is fighting against big money in politics
  • EVmatch, who is helping democratize electric vehicle charging
  • habu health, who is increasing consumer confidence and knowledge of cannabis
  • Madorra, who is developing a medical device to treat vaginal dryness
  • Mogol, who is helping transportation officials to better understand traffic patterns
  • Paidtogo, who incentivizes commuters to take alternate forms of transportation
    Scopic, who is empowering the freelance economy
  • SmartVineyards, who is using technology to improve vineyard irrigation
  • Sphaera, a P2P knowledge platform advancing Sustainable Development Goals
  • ThermChem Corporation, who is converting low value waste into valuable products
  • Tozny, who is rethinking tools for data privacy and security

Join all of these companies—as well as sponsors like Prosper Portland, Blaze Streaming Media, Built Oregon, CENTRL Office, Development Now, PSU Center for Entrepreneurship, StackPath, and TechfestNW—as they take the stage 6:00PM on July 6, 2017 at Revolution Hall.

For more information or to RSVP, please visit 1776 Challenge Cup Portland. (And if your company is interested in supporting this event as a sponsor, there are still spots available. Simply ping rick@piepdx.com.)

Community, News

Prosper Portland selects PIE to carry on diversity and inclusion incubator efforts

If you follow PIE on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook, you know that we’ve been hinting at some new flavors of PIE. Now, we’re able to reveal one of those new efforts: PIE is among 11 partners who have been chosen to help Prosper Portland (the organization formerly known as the Portland Development Commission (PDC)) on its small business efforts.

Prosper Portland Executive Director Kimberly Branam said, “This network of small business providers will transform the resource landscape for minority and underrepresented business owners. I’m excited to see Prosper Portland take this next step in its support of Portland’s small businesses, especially those owned by people of color and in low-income communities.”

For more, see the press release from Prosper Portland.