And while getting the opportunity to work with a whole new crop of amazing entrepreneurs and our incredible group of mentors makes every class of PIE special, there are some changes to our ongoing experiment that have me super excited about this next class.
1) More undivided attention for startups.
First off, we’ve doubled the size of PIE staff. That’s right. I’m no longer the only full-time employee at PIE. Kirsten Golden is joining the team as our Class Manager, where she’ll help manage day-to-day operations and be the primary point of contact for each of our startups. This will free up my time to work more closely with the mentors, to facilitate connections, and to help our ever growing alumni network continue to get benefits out of being associated with PIE.
Second, we’ve reduced our class size. Juggling 8-10 startups proved to be a little more than the space and the program could handle. So we’ve dropped the number of participating startups to 6 this time around.
So with more staff and fewer startups, that means more quality time and undivided attention—for the entire PIE family.
2) Deeper integration with Wieden + Kennedy.
One of the benefits of sitting in the W+K building has been access to the talented folks who work upstairs. We want more of that. So we’re increasing the amount of collaboration between W+K’s creative teams and the PIE startups. Startups get the benefit of some of the most creative minds in the communications business; W+K gets the opportunity to work with some of the most exciting young companies in the world—and the chance to take some creative risks and crazy startup speed.
As W+K Executive Creative Director Mark Fitzloff put it: “The PIE/W+K relationship has been a fantastic collaboration between two very different creative communities. The W+K creative teams are anxious to apply their skills to amplifying a whole new crop of innovative ideas.”
3) Startup locally. Think globally.
Startups in the US often get blasted for their myopic view of the world. Because what works in the Valley isn’t necessarily the best business. Especially if you’re wanting to attack a global market. That’s why we’re incredibly excited to help our startups expand that view.
Now—in addition to globally focused partners like Google and Coca-Cola—PIE has partnered with two programs which will give us access to opposing ends of the spectrum.
The first is *iHub, an innovation center in Nairobi, Kenya. We’ll engage in peer mentoring with the folks in Nairobi, giving our startups crucial insight on how their products and technology play in an emerging economy, where access to technology can be limited. In return, *iHub participants will get the opportunity to interact with PIE startups and share knowledge. Who knows? We may even have an *iHub company or two at demo day.
The second is W+K Toyko’s Open Office in Tokyo, Japan, arguably the most technologically advanced and commercialized economy in the world. This will give our startups insights into burgeoning technology not yet available in the US as well as insights from some of the most talented developers and entrepreneurs in the Japanese startup scene.
Continuing to make the program better for startups
Of course, we’ll also be working on continuing to improve the things that worked well with the last class. And continuing to develop relationships with partners, investors, and mentors that benefit the folks going through the program.
It’s going to be an amazing summer here in Portland. If you’ve got a startup, you should seriously consider joining us at PIE—no matter what stage your startup.