As you know, PIE is one big experiment. I mean, you do know that right? Portland. Incubator. EXPERIMENT. So every year, while accepting applications, the PIE team keeps an eye out for any opportunity to try new things.
This year, we’re actually working on a few experiments. What does it look like to bring an open-source project into an accelerator? Can solo-founders be successful in a rigorous three-month accelerator, and what can we do to tailor the experience for them?
We’ve wanted to work with teen founders for yet another experiment, so we’ve brought two promising companies into the PIE space this summer:
WorldState, co-founded by 18-yr-old Patrick Finnegan from Williamstown, MA, gets readers excited about news by gamifying and incentivizing the reading experience.
W.A.N.T., founded by high school students Grace, John, Annika, Sydney, Andrew, and Annie of Catlin Gabel in Portland, is a ‘for teens by teens’ news, entertainment, and sports website that hopes to transform the way that youth consume media.
I know what you’re thinking. High schoolers? Yes. And no, they’re not causing a ruckus. They’ve had the opportunity to participate in mentor talks, get connected to the mentor network, and rub shoulders with rising startups in the space. They’re doing well–and we’re enjoying their company.
But don’t take our word for it. We asked them how their experience has been, and here are their thoughts:
“Originally when I was offered the spot at PIE I couldn’t believe it and I didn’t know what to expect. After being here for a few weeks, I consider PIE my home on the west coast. This place is a magic kingdom where people are so generous and passionate. Just last week a PIE Alum who had just met me let me borrow her bike for the remainder of my stay. This doesn’t happen anywhere else. Although intense, I am already making huge strides in my product and plan on launching it on the app store in September and for all you PIE readers a beta invite this week. I am most excited about working with mentors, WK, getting user feedback and hopefully presenting at demo day. My anxiety gets high when I think about pitching to VC’s and potential content partners.”
–Patrick F., WorldState
“Walking into PIE provides a daily jolt of adrenalin and inspiration. We love “borrowing” the knowledge of PIE mentors (and annoying them with our numerous questions). It’s been exhilarating to work in the PIE space around so many smart, interesting, creative people, and it’s super fun to learn about what the other start-ups are working on and to get their worldly advice on our business. I’m worried that we’ll be too awesome for the other startups to handle — haha, just kidding. Seriously, we’re still a bit anxious that our age and lack of business experience will cause potential advisors and other companies not to take us seriously…but we look forward to surprising them!”
Thanks WorldState and W.A.N.T. for experimenting with us! We can’t wait to see what happens over the next few weeks together.