Rolling back to beta: Former Portland startup trades Video Sprint for Betabook

If you were around the Portland startup scene during the summer of 2012, you might remember KS12, a creative agency startup that focused on experimental storytelling. Even if their name does”t ring a bell, you may remember their film, Early Stage, about their experience at PIE. Well, quite a bit has changed since then—including their focus.

As KS12 puts it:

It was late October 2012. We had just returned from three months of near perfect sunshine in Portland, Oregon to the grey and dingy early winter of former East Berlin. After a couple weeks, the euphoria of Demo Day had died down and reality began to sink in. Prospective clients for Video Sprints didn’t have reasonable budgets for our services. Our business model was flawed. After a brief period of flirting with the idea of developing Video Sprint software, we headed south to visit Pati’s family for Christmas and put our plans on hold for the new year. We finally were reckoning with something we’d been hearing the whole time at PIE about our business: “that’s cool – but how does it scale?”

The resulting crisis of confidence had them stepping back. And retrenching. And that rethinking resulted in something of genius. That could achieve that scale. And yet—somehow—it still related to their experience at PIE.

If we hadn’t used it intensely during our time in the incubator who knows if we would have been convinced of the value. After all, at that time the prototype was just a scrappy old journal binding with a piece of duct tape and a sheet of dirty plastic glued inside. But besides the practical testing we did at PIE we learned countless other lessons which have had an impact on our ability to move forward with the Betabook. As graduates of film and design schools, PIE served as our crash course in startup business. Mentors like Renny, Rick, Nick, Kirsten, Marcelino Alvarez, John Jay, Amber Case, Brad Berens, Jason Glaspey, Andy Baio, Mat Ellis and Brad Feld – among dozens of others – gave us invaluable insights. Our classmates served as mirrors for us, helping us to see ourselves as entrepreneurs even if at times we felt like amateurs.

The result? Betabook. Which is now pursuing a Kickstarter project to fund the development of the project.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/betabook/betabook-the-portable-whiteboard-for-the-digital-a/widget/video.html

For more information or to grab your own book, visit Betabook.

(KS12 is a PIE alum. I am the cofounder and general manager of PIE.)

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