Community, News

Video playlist from PIE Demo Day 2014

PIE demo day last Friday was a BLAST! Thanks to everyone who came to the theater, the simulcast and to those of you who tuned in via livestream. The Portland community never ceases to impress.

To those of you who were unable to join in on Friday…yes you’re late to the party, but the pitches are still as fresh as ever. Grab yourself a coffee and check out this pitch playlist from last Friday’s demo day.

See a pitch you liked? Give them an upvote on product hunt! And it’s never too late to join the conversation on Twitter with #PIEdemo.


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”.

Community, News

Introducing PIE’s teen founders

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!”
–Grace, W.A.N.T.

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.