“PIE is technology accelerator/incubator seeking 8-10 brand-collaborative startups who’ve identified an emergent opportunity in brand-aligned and business-aligned hardware, software, services or experiences – and we’re particularly interested in mobility. Applicants need an existing prototype or proof of concept, and a scalable, viable idea deployable in 3-9 months. Most importantly, they need a collaborative spirit and want to work with some of the world’s greatest brands – including Coca-Cola, Target and Nike!”
I believe you don’t really talk about something until you’ve got something real to talk about. Crazy, I know, given the business I’m in, but hopefully fair when you consider that Dan Wieden (the guy who let us set up PIE in his building) speaks pretty convincingly about brand voice and brand truths. We wanted to make sure we had a few before we ran off at the mouth.
This is why my first blog post about the PIE experience comes a full year after it began, when a motley band of W+K’ers, technologists, entrepreneurs and ne’er-do-wells set up camp in the old PICA/Icebreaker space at the corner of NW 12th and Davis in Portland, Oregon.
PIE was initially conceived as a social and entrepreneurial experiment by four folks – myself, Silicon Florist blogger Rick Turoczy, serial entrepreneur/mobile force of nature Scott Kveton, and the man who has turned the notion of ‘side projects’ into an art form, Jason Glaspey. But it wouldn’t have been what it became if the idea hadn’t caught the imagination of a wider group of interesting people – what we called PIE’s “crust” and “filling”. [insert your own bad joke here - lord knows we have]
All of us (from the fruity middle to the flaky edges…I know, I know) wondered: what would happen if you put a bunch of entrepreneurial technology optimists into an open space? Would you get a brilliant hive mind? SkyNet? Given the ready availability of solid off-the-shelf and web-based software packages, how quickly could you build entire businesses (Bac’n took 21 days) ? What happens when you bring iterative speed development by folks who don’t eat if their idea fails, inside Wieden’s walls? Would the proximities and adjacencies in PIE make ideas better than they might have been otherwise? would unexpected things happen? would it be fun?
Short answer? Yes. And the keg helped.
Taking the name “Portland Incubator Experiment”, or “PIE”, we set out with some pretty vague but audacious goals – build a techno-cultural social hub for Portland, launch new businesses fast, build platforms/cultural disruptions not one-offs. We didn’t know what to expect, but we did know that there was a lot that PDX tech culture and W+K culture could learn from each other.
In our first year, PIE was home to 20 startups, and amongst other things, generated 3 venture-backed companies, hosted a wide range of interesting events and kicked out a book on fast innovation, fast-ly.
So with that under our belts, and some innovation where our mouth is, we are taking off our stealth paint.
PIE 2.0: fresher and more delicious.
This time around, Wieden+Kennedy and a hardy band of technology innovators and entrepreneurs are joined by tech-forward brand partners Coca-Cola, Target, and Nike. We’ll work together to explore and redefine brand experiences. PIE will continue to serve as an active hub for the PDX tech community, entrepreneurship, and creative thinking, but now we’ll collaborate to help brands find unexpected solutions, accelerate mobile efforts, share brand wisdom and insights with young startups and expose brand organization to the wacky world of real-time, startup-flavored innovation. Each brand has volunteered amazing mentors for the program; they and the extended PIE mentor network of tech entrepreneurs, geo-location wizards, mobile gaming experts, open source advocates and techno-cultural disruptors will look to make communications objects/products more compelling and our lives a little more interesting.
The application for PIE is here. Got a business idea, a dream and a prototype? Want to work with some of the world’s most amazing brands and the insight and scale they can provide? Applications close August 1st. September 1st, the new class takes their seats.
We are pretty excited.