An ecosystem of creators and competitors spurring the next generation of IoT entrepreneurship in Portland
The Internet of Things is exciting and promising, but with the hype comes danger of putting strategy second and creating problems rather than solving them.
Our research and analysis into Portland’s IoT community found that connected device startups have difficulty accessing the resources to prototype and validate product concepts. This adds pressure to manufacture products before their business model is validated, increasing the risk of failure and decreasing the possibility of moving the needle in a meaningful way.
Since 2018, Portland Incubator Experiment (PIE) and Fresh have been partners in an advanced manufacturing and prototyping incubator called PIE Shop, designed to fuel the next generation of hardware-driven product companies. Together, we set out to demystify the startup process and provide emergent companies with a supportive community of mentors, alumni, and peers.
We helped PIE Shop drive innovation to the next generation of hardware startups, with two related goals: getting IoT products from concept to their first 1,000 units and building the next generation of IoT companies in Portland.
Creating a powerful center of gravity
Fresh Portland acted as a concierge and advisor to Autodesk as it looked to define its role in the city’s innovation goals in traded sectors such as technology and advanced manufacturing. We set out to bolster PIE Shop’s reputation and help them set down roots in the Central Eastside Industrial District. Fresh Portland has made the district its home for ten years and is a member of the Central Eastside Industrial Council (CEIC). It made sense to locate PIE Shop nearby.
The CEIC reports that “[the district’s] growing popularity as a mixed-use, multi-functional community, for businesses and residents alike, brings new energy [ . . . ] Mixed employment uses fill much of the district’s blocks with spines of residential and commercial services along key corridors, adding density and diversity to the overall fabric of the district.”
Our early bets paid for, and PIE Shop and Autodesk will continue to be at the nexus of growth and evolution.
Fresh Portland hopes to help more startups grow and understand how a product goes from idea to production. The company already works with some startups as well as research and development teams at large companies.
Empowering clients and partners to win with IoT
Despite the increasing affordability of sensors, the challenge with creating an impactful IoT solution is that it requires a sophisticated, technical ecosystem. There are various working parts from the business underpinnings to market research, from embedded sensors to the software that communicates with them. While it’s easy to imagine a challenge where IoT is a logical solution, bringing it to fruition is a different story.
Identifying a unique opportunity with varying industries that overlap in not-so-obvious ways, Fresh Portland partnered with other entrepreneurs across various sectors, including apparel, semiconductors and manufacturing, food, health, and the outdoors. PIE Shop presents a collaborative environment where people worry less about getting funding and think more about solving problems with the power of IoT.