AppThwack, Little Bird, Stublisher, and more take the stage for Portland Incubator Experiment Demo Day

PIE demo day

Yesterday, Portland Incubator Experiment (PIE) held its second annual demo day event, introducing six new startups to the market. The new projects range from little known to enjoying early launch success, and run the gamut technologically: Some entirely user-focused, others preoccupied with big data. Check out the six new startups courtesy of PIE’s second incubator class.

Little Bird

PIE little birdFormer TechCrunch and ReadWriteWeb writer Marshall Kirkpatrick’s Little Bird (formerly known as Plexus Engine) kicked things off. While there aren’t many questions about Little Bird’s odds at success — the startup did just complete a $1 million round of fundraising led by Mark Cuban and already has more than 20 paying customers — it still deserves mention.

As a quick summary, Little Bird is a social graph search application that leverages Twitter and top blogs to find the people you need to connect with. That “you” is the important piece: This isn’t a user-facing tool (although it could be); it’s mainly targeting marketers and advertisers — outlets that need to find influencers and engage them.

Sound like Klout? Well there are definitely some overlapping ideas between the two, but Klout remains a rather surface application that focuses on describing how influential you are. Also, it’s a black box: Despite recent admissions about how it finds your Klout rank, there’s plenty that’s unaccounted for. Little Bird is about connecting the dots between subject matter experts and all of its signals are extremely up front. Kirkpatrick compares it to Page Rank, saying Little Bird believes the best way to find valued sources is by analyzing the connections between people, not just the content they’re putting out.

Code Scouts

PIE code scoutsCall it a reaction to the economy or the tech startup scene — or maybe just call it the Codeacademy effect — but there’s been a flood of alternative computer science education systems hitting the market recently. Despite the “everyone should learn to code!” trend, there is still a huge demand for developers and at the same time this industry needs some serious diversity — to put it plainly, there’s a very real lack of women in the field.

Code Scouts (a non-profit, a unique idea to demo days) is focusing on teaching women to code for mobile and Web, which founder Michelle Rowley reasons is just smart given the influence women have on the consumer market. The organization is more relaxed than your typical intense, quick-and-dirty hacker school. Members work in small groups, take advantage of mentorships, and meet for larger Code Scout-wide events and workshops.

Code Scouts is looking to raise $250k to build its team and then scale out nationally next year. Rowley also says the startup is looking for developers interested in being mentors or volunteers, as well as companies who are interested in partnering with Code Scouts to offer internships.


pie video sprintsSocial video remains a much-explored, arguably untapped market, and KS12 is giving it a go with a product it calls “video sprints.” Basically, these are KS12-produced videos that follow the pre and post pieces of an event — as well as, obviously, the during part of the event itself. “We see this as a space for collaboration,” says co-founder Gabriel Shalom. “Most event organizers see events as an end result, but we video sprints we see them as a peak of a cycle of attention that starts beforehand and goes until afterward.”

In a demo, KS12 showed off incredibly high quality video content and a variety of big names in tech and startups — you can check out its video spring focused on PIE here.


PIE appthwackThe F-word is a very dangerous one to developers: Fragmentation. AppThwack wants to help solve the resulting frustration with its automated app testing platform. Co-founders Trent Peterson and Pawel Wojnarowicz previously worked at Intel and have taken their time and knowledge of system automation over to AppThwack.

“We development a platform that will address the increasingly connected world we live in,” says Peterson. “We will be the solution for testing on devices and all platforms.”

Right now, AppThwack has originally only been available for Android (certainly a good place to start) and HTML 5 apps. You simply drag and drop you app to its site and AppThwack starts running and testing it on actual devices. Then you get your results and find out how well — or poorly — your app is running.

The startup launched last July, and since then it has performed nearly 573,000 tests. AppThwack is now moving into mobile Web development and will begin running testing for iOS apps in a couple months.


pie lyticsLytics is adding its name to the big data startup pool. The analytics service collects an app or services data from wherever you want — Web, mobile, third party APIs, Facebook, you name it — and from there helps you make sense of it all. Lytics can provide data visualization tools as well as enhanced background on a client’s users.

With cloud dependency and more and more outside integrations, applications’ data is fragmented across platforms, and Lytics (currently finalizing fundraising) wants to bring all of that together into one place and make it easily digestible and useful for its clients.


pie stublisherStublisher shares some of the same focus as KS12’s video sprints by targeting social events. “We want to build a community around experiences and build a life around events,” co-founder Kyle Banuelos says. Stublisher wants to do more than be a platform that shows what you Like, it’s about showing what you did, and what you do.

Collins convincingly also showed off how Stublisher’s platform looks compared to Facebook Events — and the short story is, it looks much better. Facebook Events are static, feature-less pages, and the moment an event is over, they disappear. Right now, Stublisher is working with the Instagram API, but Banuelos says they also want to pull in Twitter and that an iOS app is in the works.

In addition to lots of philosophical waxing about the beauty of cherishing events and valuing this part of our social data by turning it into something more interactive, something more engaging, Banuelos also talked about the value proposition for marketers. Collecting this data and turning it into something we want to build and look at is obviously works to a brand’s advantage. Right now Stublisher is targeting concerts and events, but the team wants to get into sports and fashion. “What Wikipedia did for knowledge, we’re doing for experiences,” he says.


Emerging Tech

How emotion-tracking A.I. will change computing as we know it

Affectiva is just one of the startups working to create emotion-tracking A.I. that can work out how you're feeling. Here's why this could change the face of computing as we know it.

Whether by the pool or the sea, make a splash with the best waterproof phones

Whether you're looking for a phone you can use in the bath, or you just want that extra peace of mind, waterproof phones are here and they're amazing. Check out our selection of the best ones you can buy.
Social Media

Vine co-founder launches beta test for new video-looping app Byte

Vine co-founder Dom Hofmann has finally launched the beta version of Byte, a new video-looping app expected to closely resemble the one that closed down in 2017 after owner Twitter withdrew support.
Smart Home

I have seen the future, and it’s full of salad-making robots

Think that robots bussing tables, tossing salads and baking bread is a futuristic concept? It's actually not as far away as you might think. Robots took center stage at a food robotics summit in San Francisco this week, where they showed…

Walmart drops a killer deal on the Apple iPad Mini 4 tablet

The Apple iPad still reigns supreme in the tablet market, and the pint-sized 7.9-inch iPad Mini is the perfect everyday carry companion. Now’s the perfect chance to score a deal on the last-gen iPad Mini 4 before it’s gone for good.

Google Creative Lab’s new AR experiment helps you learn how to draw

Google's Creative Lab developed an experiment called Drawalong AR that could make it easier for aspiring artists to follow YouTube tutorials. The experiment essentially leverages Google's ARCore to create a virtual tracing paper.
Home Theater

Set your ears free with the best completely wireless earbuds

If you can't stand the tangle of cords, or you're just excited about completely wireless earbuds, you're going to need some help separating the wheat from the chaff. Our list serves up the best true wireless earbuds around.

Want to watch Netflix in bed or browse the web? We have a tablet for everyone

There’s so much choice when shopping for a new tablet that it can be hard to pick the right one. From iPads to Android, these are our picks for the best tablets you can buy right now whatever your budget.

On a budget? We found the best affordable smartphones you can buy

Here are the best affordable phones for anyone working with a tight budget, whether you're a fan of stock Android or marathon battery life. Find out what you can get for under $500 or far, far less as we round up the best budget…

Which smartphone has the best camera? We found the sharpest shooters

They say that the best camera is always the one you have with you and that makes your smartphone camera very important indeed. Join us for a closer look at the best camera phones available right now.

We tried all the latest and greatest smartphones to find the best of 2019

Smartphones are perhaps the most important and personal piece of tech on the planet. That’s why it’s important to pick the best phone for your individual needs. Here are the best smartphones you can buy.

Solve a galaxy of problems with a simple reset of your S10

If your Samsung smartphone is acting up, then you may want to try resetting it. We'll show you how to overcome simple issues with a soft reset and also how to tackle bigger problems or prep it for sale with a factory reset.

Step into Childish Gambino’s musical universe with the Pharos AR app

Childish Gambino seems to be on a mission to take over everyone's smartphones. Now you can experience his musical and visual universe through his new Pharos AR app, available on Android now and iOS soon.

iFixit's teardown might show the reason the Galaxy Fold keeps breaking

The Samsung Galaxy Fold has arrived, and it goes on sale soon. Folding out from a 4.6-inch display to a tablet-sized 7.3-inch display, this unique device has six cameras, two batteries, and special software to help you use multiple apps.