News

Making the PIE bigger: PIE Shop, an experiment in accelerating manufactured products

At PIE, we’re always looking for opportunities to apply our learnings—and the knowledge from our community—in new and different ways. That motivation to continually explore and experiment has been at the core of our work for nearly a decade.

It was the impetus for founding the project. It’s why we converted from a coworking space to a startup accelerator. It’s why we open sourced our learnings through the PIE Cookbook. And it’s why we have continued to look for opportunities to experiment with the model—and to strive to find new and different ways to build better founders—year after year.

Long story short, we take the “E” in PIE—which stands for “Experiment”—pretty seriously. Even if we’re not quite sure what we’re getting ourselves into.

So when we happened upon the opportunity to collaborate with an industry leader like Autodesk and one of our own alums, Uncorked Studios, to pursue an experiment that would explore the needs of startups who manufacture physical objects, we couldn’t resist the opportunity. Especially given how enamored we are of the challenge to embark on an experiment more complex than any we have tackled in the past.

And now, we’re ready to introduce that complex experiment to you.

It’s called PIE Shop. And we believe that it has the potential to fill a much needed role in the Portland startup community, for both early stage startups and for more established companies with small batch manufacturing needs. It presents an opportunity to better leverage existing resources and latent manufacturing capacity for the benefit of our entire Portland ecosystem. And best of all, we’re enthralled by the unique opportunity to tap into the deep seeded knowledge in our community, a community which boasts a rich history in both traditional and electronics manufacturing driven by a culture of curiosity and craft.

Of ultimate import to PIE, this new effort promises to satisfy a number of the objectives we’ve set out to accomplish in 2018.

Rest assured, PIE Shop will leverage all of the startup accelerator learnings and our extensive network of mentors, connections, and community, just as we’ve done for other disciplines.

We’re incredibly excited to expand the PIE family with a whole new group of startups, mentors, and partners. And we’re sincerely hoping that you’ll be interested in joining us on this journey.

How to get involved

 

  • If you’re an Oregon manufacturer, maker space, or any other company with machines or manufacturing capacity, we’d love to hear more about the work you do.
  • If you’re a maker or founder who is looking to leverage existing resources to bring your product to fruition, we’d love to hear more about your needs.
  • And of course, if you’re an early stage startup or founder who feels like PIE Shop’s resources, connections, and mentorship could help accelerate your business, please take a few moments to apply to participate in PIE Shop.
News

PIE 2018: What experiments are we cooking up next?

Looking back at 2017, PIE managed to accomplish quite a bit. Even if we didn’t feel like we did. In fact, we only realized what sort of progress we had made because we had taken the time to publish a list of objectives for 2017, and that gave us a yardstick to measure our accomplishments. With that list as a reference, we had to admit that we’d made progress. Which is probably why people make lists.

Bear in mind, we’d made mistakes, too. And failed. But that’s all good in our book.

In that same vein, we now want to have a list to consult in 2019, in case we’re burdened with a similar sense of un-accomplishment. So we thought it might be beneficial to share some insights on what PIE is working to accomplish in 2018.

Besides, it helps keep us honest. About both successes and failures.

As with last year, all of these thoughts come with a caveat:

Let’s be honest. Talking about the past is a lot easier than guessing about the future. Regardless of how sound your strategic thinking. All we know for certain is that we’ll continue experimenting. Because that’s what we’re best at doing. And it’s in our name.

With that in mind, here are some of the areas where the PIE team will be intentionally focusing our time and energy this year.

NOTE: In the spirit of brevity, we’re just going to lightly touch on some of our objectives. Not go into great depth. Because we recognize that each one of these topics deserves a post of its own. And those will be forthcoming. But that desire to provide more detail has simply been preventing us from getting this post out the door. So we’ll work to flesh out each of these topics over the coming weeks.

  1. Build an hors d’oeuvre section to the PIE Cookbook. Following a successful Kickstarter campaign in 2016, PIE completed the initial version of the PIE Cookbook in 2017. It’s become exceedingly obvious, however, that consuming that entire book is a difficult first step for many folks. It’s way too daunting. That, of course, was not the intent. The intent was to demystify accelerators and to make the concept more accessible. But that clearly requires something that is easier to consume. So we’re going to create something more accessible that helps you quickly determine if you’re ready to start building the accelerator of your dreams before you have to dive headlong into a ton of content.
  2. Experiment with a nonprofit model for PIE. We’ve tried for profit. In fact, we’ve experimented with that model for nearly a decade. But there’s one small problem. PIE is not driven or motivated by profit. We’re driven by purpose. So it’s time for something new. Becoming a nonprofit might not be the right thing to do, but it’s an experiment worth pursuing. If only to help others understand the pros and cons.
  3. Build an accelerator that is more authentic for our startup community. A lot of what PIE has done in the past has been based on prevailing and accepted accelerator models. And to be honest, those models have both structure and artifice that only works within certain environments or with substantial resources and partnerships. We don’t have those same resources. And Portland isn’t the same kind of environment. So we’re reimagining what a Portland-flavored startup accelerator could and should look like. We’ve already got some good ideas about what that might mean. And we’re looking forward to putting those ideas into action in 2018.
  4. Build out a physical space that can serve as a hub for early stage founders. Many of our conversations in 2017 centered around the absence of PIE as a physical space and how that vacuum was negatively impacting the startup community. The prevailing feedback hinted at the role PIE had played from 2009 until 2015. As a center of gravity. So in 2018, we’d like to get back into the role of being that hub. And being the open front door and welcome mat for new founders. And to do that, we’ll need physical space.
  5. Return to building better founders. One of PIE’s founding tenets was “Build better founders.” To us, that meant that we were more interested in helping people than companies. We didn’t care if the companies succeeded or failed. We cared that everyone in the PIE family—founders, mentors, investors, partners, and staff—would be better off for having participated. Our shortcoming? We only focused on the business aspects of making founders better. In hindsight, this was a mistake. So this year, we’re looking to focus holistically on building better founders. From mental health to community engagement to family support, PIE is going to build the best founders we can.
  6. Begin building better staff. One of the biggest mistakes I’ve made with PIE in the past is not providing effective and clear paths for the staff to move into leadership positions within PIE. While we’ve provided opportunities for professional growth and enabled staff to propose and execute different experiments, we’ve failed to give them upward mobility. Admittedly, part of this was due to the fact that I didn’t even really understand my role. But whatever the case, this was on me. To make the model sustainable, that needs to change. This year, we are likely to have several opportunities to provide upward mobility for PIE staff. And as we learn how that works, I hope that we can add guidance to the PIE Cookbook about how to more effectively engage and enable accelerator staff to grow into accelerator leaders.
  7. Expand the PIE family with a new class of startups. Once we secure physical space, we’re going to need some activity in that space. And some people. And startups. I mean, if we’re rebooting this whole thing, let’s reboot it. So if you’re building a startup and you think PIE could be helpful, be on the lookout for a whole new PIE application period opening this year.

That sounds like a lot. But it sounded like a lot last year, too. And we managed to complete all but one of those objectives. So we’re tentatively optimistic that we can get it done. Will we succeed? Who knows? But we’ll experiment. And fail. And maybe succeed. And we’re hoping you’ll continue to stay tuned as we do.

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.

Community, News

Applications still open for 1776 Challenge Cup, PIE… and Shark Tank

PIE is excited to once again play host to the first round of the 1776 Challenge Cup, a global competition taking place in 75 cities around the world in an effort to identify promising early stage startups who are talking complex challenges that impact cities, education, energy, food, health, money, security, and transportation.

So excited, in fact, that we’ve extended the deadline for applications. But just a few more days. Startups interested in applying must do so by June 18, 2017. The event takes place at Revolution Hall on July 6, 2017. It will be livestreamed, as well.

The event is free to applicants and attendees.

As an added bonus, any company who chooses to apply for the 1776 Challenge Cup will be automatically advanced to the second round of the next PIE application period—whether you’re selected to pitch or not. (You read that right. We’re beginning to ramp up for our next flavor of PIE and we’re super interested in the awesome startup you’re building. More details about that in the coming weeks.)

So it’s two applications for the price as one.

Finally, the folks at Shark Tank—yes, that Shark Tank—are on the prowl for more companies to participate in the popular ABC program. If you’re willing to make a deal with the sharks, you might consider throwing your proverbial chum in the water. You can apply by sending Shark Tank an email.

shark-tank.jpg

Community, News

REMINDER: You have one week left to apply for the 1776 Challenge Cup Portland

PIE is once again playing host to the 1776 Challenge Cup Portland, a pitch competition for early stage startups.

[1776 Challenge Cup is a] global competition for the world’s most promising startups tackling complex, regulated challenges to share their vision on a global stage, engage with industry leaders, and win grand prizes.

That’s all good. What’s not so good? The looming deadline. Which is June 9, 2017.

So if you’ve got an early stage company that deserves an audience with the Portland startup community — and potentially the entire world — please get your applications in before the deadline.

P.S. As an added bonus, any startup that applies to the 1776 Challenge Cup Portland will be automatically advanced to the second round of the companies being considered for the next PIE cohort, which is currently in the planning stages. So get those applications submitted.

News

1776 chats with PIE

Nice writeup from an interview with startup accelerator 1776. (PIE partners with 1776 to host the 1776 Challenge Cup Portland on July 6, 2017. If you’re interested in applying, the deadline for applications is June 9, 2017.)

From a coworking space to an accelerator, PIE, or Portland Incubator Experiment, is focused on creating successful startups in Portland, Oregon. PIE is constantly changing its own methods to better fit the local startups’ needs and has transitioned from a coworking space to an accelerator.

For more, read “Portland Incubator Experiment: Evolving With Its Startups.”

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.”