Teressa Iezzi, former Editor of Creativity, is now working for Fast Company. Her latest piece for the newsstand pub, is a feature on Portland Incubator Experiment, or PIE, a partnership among leading brands, technology innovators, and Wieden+Kennedy.
Wieden Portland just announced the winners of its PIE startup contest–nine companies ranging from a finance-focused cloud management platform to what’s being dubbed an “Airbnb for pets.” The startups will receive $18,000 in capital, a place to work, and access to Wieden’s leadership and the Portland tech scene’s best minds. But, perhaps more significantly, the budding companies will get access to a posse of high level brand players from Target, Coca-Cola, and Google–execs who represent not just marketing communications, but IT, retail, innovation, design, and other disciplines at those companies.
The initiative is designed to back startups that have something to offer brands and to bring the tech development mind-set into agency and brand culture. It’s also a smooth client relationship move from Wieden, positioning the agency as a collaborative partner that can bring tech innovation beyond digital ad campaigns.
According to Renny Gleeson, W+K’s global director of interactive strategies (and co-founder of PIE along with Rick Turoczy), the agency isn’t looking to own new products or companies–it’s going to school on the startup process in effort to move the agency away from a “manufacturing model” to a “more iterative software model.”
“If you really boil it down, we think folks who collaborate best are the ones who win, whether you call them an agency, a technologist, a brand. No one is going to be smart enough to do everything by themselves; things are changing too fast. From our standpoint, laying the groundwork for new ways to collaborate is incredibly important,” argues Gleeson.
Urban Airship and Bank Simple are two of the success stories coming out of PIE’s first round of funding. This new round of startups include Adyapper, Athletepath, Cloudability; DailyPath, MoPix, Revisu, Spotsi, Stayhound and VendScreen.
While W+K goes to school on their process, I for one, wouldn’t mind assisting these entrepreneurs with their brand identities, messaging strategies, social media activation and content development. But whoever ends up working with these future clients, this is good news for Portland, the people served by these new companies and yes, it is also good for W+K and their partners. How good remains to be seen, but I have faith that we’ll soon see Coca-Cola or Levi’s or P&G or Target or Dodge teaming up with one or more of these companies under W+K’s roof.