Now that the dust has settled from the first (version 2.0) of PIE, a.k.a. the Portland Incubator Experiment, I wanted to share some thoughts on my experience as a mentor to some of the start-ups that participated.
First off, I felt honored to be a part of quite possibly one of the best group of mentors that I have ever been able to work with. From seasoned professionals, executives at large corporations and other founders like myself that have navigated the trenches of start-up life, the brain trust and combined experience was astounding. I looked forward to going into the PIE offices to feed off the vibe of long hours and longer problems that all the teams were trying to solve and tried to help with examples from my past when I could. From white board sessions to sharing stories, it was not only a teaching experience but also a learning experience.
If you are thinking about joining an incubator, especially something like PIE, you need to be ready to get into the pressure cooker and dedicate 100%+ of your time to your project. Being accepted into one is your first validation that the vision, team and product you are working on could actually be something. You also have to know, in the back of your mind, that you could expose problems and weaknesses with any of those parts of your start-up under the same pressure.
I was able to work with 4 of the PIE start-ups and watched 3 of them grow, understand and learn, test and iterate and ultimately come out of the experience with funding, clients, revenue and a drive to build a company. One of the companies realized that there were issues between team members that simply couldn’t be rectified on the direction of the product and vision, so they disbanded. The interesting thing there is when one start up didn’t make it, two were born in its place so I will be sure to watch them to see what happens as they were a talented team.
For this to be the first full PIE season, I have to say I was impressed. Rick Turoczy, the GM of PIE worked tirelessly to make sure that mentors were engaged, start-ups were getting all they needed and more. It was also great to see the initial buzz and continued press that they were able to generate and I personally like that Sam Adams, our mayor here in PDX, kicked off the first session on a sunny beautiful day in the park blocks.
I am eagerly awaiting the second season (class, session, etc) of PIE and can’t wait to see some of the applications come in and what people are working on. If you have any direct questions please send them to me, happy to answer and help.
Image Courtesy of W+K: http://blog.wk.com/