News

PIE testimony to Portland City Council on 2019 accomplishments

When PIE spun out of Wieden+Kennedy a few years back, we decided that one of the new experiments should be testing the waters as a nonprofit startup accelerator. Which meant that, rather than relying wholly on generating revenue to keep the accelerator running, we would also have the opportunity to partner with grantmaking organizations with whom we share common goals.

One of the organizations with whom we were able to partner from PIE’s earliest days as a nonprofit was Prosper Portland, the economic development agency for the city of Portland, Oregon. As part of our partnership with Prosper, we receive both grant money as well as access to the Inclusive Business Resource Network, a community of practice which includes any number of entrepreneur support organizations in our city.

To close out the year, PIE Community Manager Marquita Jaramillo was invited to give testimony to the Mayor Ted Wheeler and the Portland City Council. Video as well as the transcript of that testimony follow.

Good afternoon Mayor Wheeler and City Council Members. Thank you for your time. My name is Marquita Jaramillo, I am the community manager for PIE, the Portland Incubator Experiment, an ongoing experiment designed to foster collaboration among established corporations, government entities, educational institutions, and the Portland startup community. Throughout our 10 year history, PIE has accelerated more than 100 local companies — companies like AllGo, Black Founders Matter, Cloudability, Dorsum, MilkRun, Nexgarden, Simple, Uncorked Studios, and Workfrom, among others — and fostered the creation of more than 1000 jobs in the Portland area

We have two program locations. PIE Shop located within Autodesk in the Towne Storage building at 221 SE Ankeny and PIE/ Innovation Lab within Puppet located at 308 SW 2nd Ave, a few blocks from here.

PIE supports founders building scalable traded sector businesses in the software, manufacturing, and consumer product industries. Our program at PIE Shop focuses on manufactured products, with a digital/technical component, the program running at Puppet Innovation Lab supports SaaS. (Software as a Service) businesses, and our partnership with Built Oregon accelerates consumer product companies from Portland and around the state of Oregon. The current cohorts of PIE Shop and PIE residency programs are home to 54 startups, which includes both newly founded companies as well as PIE alums who serve as mentors in residence. That totals to more than 120 hard working Portland entrepreneurs building innovative companies that will serve as the employers and community anchors of the future. All of this work is currently shouldered by two part-time employees who split time among the programs and a vast network of hundreds of local mentors who volunteer their time and expertise in support of these amazing founders in the program.

As an entrepreneur, myself, for the past 5 years and a microbusiness owner for the past year, I fully understand the struggles associated with owning/running a business and strongly support BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) founders. PIE echoes similar values and support for these underestimated communities. We see an exciting future ahead, but it isn’t without concerns. Each day we encounter the difficulties our founders face, firsthand. We have very real worries about the lack of risk tolerant, early stage funding available to start/grow a business in our community, the lack of health insurance, and mental and behavioral health support, especially for individuals who are likely going through the most stressful experience of their lives. PIE is happy to partner with Prosper Portland and the City of Portland to participate in the Inclusive Business Resource Network (IBRN) because it makes sense for us and the community.

The parts of the IBRN I am most excited about are the ones that address these issues and will make Portland better for everyone, including the people who work here and for those who call it home. The IBRN offers an array of services rather than a one-size-fits-all solution to the very real problems that come with being an entrepreneur/founder and a person of color. Through valuable partnerships and community engagements PIE aims to be a positive change in the startup community, and in the greater Portland community in general.

Thank you, again, for your time.

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!

Community

The Importance of Community

It’s football season again, and while we don’t know who will win it all, we do know one thing: successful teams take time to pause, reflect and review game film—every single week. There are poor plays that must never be repeated and there are great plays that should definitely be emphasized. So we’re going to do just that. No, we’re not going to review PIE film (there are no hidden cameras at PIE), but we are going to take the occasional opportunity to reflect. There’s a lot we can learn.

Patrick Finnegan, the 18-yr-old co-founder and CEO of WorldState, will kick things off for us. He’s been with us for a month and will be here until Demo Day, so keep an eye out for his posts where he’ll shed some insight into his experiences. Here are his recent thoughts:

Although the Coconut PIE class (Class of 2013) graduated last year and many have moved on from the daily routine of PIE, they are still very much a part of the class. PIE truly is a close knit family. It stems from the authentic feel and the type of people Kirsten and Rick strive to bring into the program.

Just last week, I was in a jam not having a bike to get me around and without any transfer of fee’s or many asks, Michelle Rowley of Code Scouts leant me her bike. This is just one small example of the trust we have in each other here—it’s something so many corporations try and do by hiring six figure salary culture officers and conducting multiple team building exercises. Here, it’s organic. Whether it is help with branding, an intro to someone, or keeping you accountable, the alumni and mentors go above and beyond to help people.

There is one other person I want to highlight in my post this week—someone I aspire to be  both because of her authentic self as well as her strong passion and leadership skills that make her one of the best CEO’s out there today.

Her name is Mara, cofounder and CEO of Switchboard. At first glance, you may feel intimidated to reach out to her, but the minute you ask for help, her advice is incredibly helpful and comes from a genuine place. Why does she do it one might ask? Alex, CTO of Teak, said she is known for creating community. She is not even in Derby Pie (Class of 2014), yet she still takes time to invite me to dinner and dive into intellectual conversations while also running a startup that is going to be on the cover of Time. She doesn’t push you away and say she is too busy even when she literally has no time. Instead, she embraces you just like any other caring mentor would. She sincerely cares, and her honesty has been a tremendous help.

So as I reflect on this past week, I have two thoughts: community is important. It is no doubt this community that is at the core of PIE and maybe even at the core of the Portland tech scene. People like Michelle have shown me tremendous support that I think is vital for the success of any startup. And my final reflection is the importance of honesty. Sugarcoating, although great in the short term, in the end leads to falsehoods. Thanks to the honest outlook and advice I’ve received from Mara, I will be prepared to deal with tough investors, and plain old “NO’s”.