As Easy as Pie

As Easy as Pie
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The Pie team: co-founder Guillaume Sabran, co-founder Ceci Mourkogiannis, Lead Mobile Engineer Luis Grimaldo, and co-founder Jacob Trefethen

360 video is the medium for immersive storytelling, and thanks to Pie, anyone can do it. The Matter 5 company has just announced its seed round and launched an iOS app that allows users to upload, annotate, and share a 360 video in under 20 seconds.

In partnership with the Chinese manufacturer Arashi Vision, makers of the $199 Insta360 Nano camera, creators with the smartphone attachment can shoot 360 video directly within the Pie app.

But Pie is not a VR app, and no extra hardware is needed to start creating or consuming content. Pie’s new “slices” feature — “a cross between a Boomerang and a 360 gif,” as Lead Mobile Engineer Luis Grimaldo calls them— are 360 video panoramas that a user can record on their iPhone, then move forwards and backwards through space and time, simply by swiping their way around the screen. Co-founder Ceci Mourkogiannis says slices “give people a way of sharing their lives that provides a sense of context, group dynamics, and the environment around them,” in contrast to the “me, me, me” selfie trend that’s starting to feel old.

Pie’s mission has been to democratize 360 video access by making it incredibly quick and simple to shoot and share clips on mobile. They’re reclaiming 360 video creation from the realm of high-end, brand-sponsored production, and empowering the 2 billion people who already own smartphones to capture immersive snapshots of the every day. The team believes that’s key to this still-nascent medium finding its place in the mainstream.

“We set ourself the goal of making the process of capturing, editing, and sharing a 360 video 10x faster and easier than existing options,” says CTO Guillaume Sabran.

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Matter is proud to be part of a lineup of distinguished investors in Pie’s seed round, which is led by our partner, McClatchy, and includes Sparkland Capital, Stage Venture Partners, Colopl VR Fund, and Graph Ventures.

Andy Pergam, VP of Video and New Ventures at McClatchy, says that the company “views 360-degree video as a major driver for the industry overall”, one that will become essential to storytelling, and that the team behind Pie “knocked [their] socks off early on.”

“We fund startups that are building the future of media that matters,” says Matter Managing Partner, Corey Ford. “Pie’s founding team is shaping the future of video on mobile, and I’d back them every time.”

Hear from the Pie team about why Pie is not a VR app

Ceci, Jacob, and Guillaume graduated from our Matter Five cohort last year, having met in August 2014 at Harvard, where they were studying on year-long fellowships.

Ceci first came across Matter on Medium and later an investor recommended the accelerator program to Jacob. They applied, flew across the country on the last of their grant money to attend the finalists interview, prepared a detailed pitch presentation based on their own internal design thinking bootcamp, and got one of 6 coveted spots in the cohort.

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At Matter SF, December 2015

Their 20 weeks at Matter were heavy on adventure. The company started out as Papero, “an engagement community around articles” (think Patreon for blogs) based on a subscription fee model that paid out tips to bloggers when their content was consumed. It then underwent a series of seismic pivots, driven by ideation sprints, comprehensive research, and the embrace of user-centered design. The trio landed on 360 video as a captivating medium ripe for experimentation that was just starting to take off with consumers. They hit on the idea of developing a platform that a community of creators could populate with immersive 360° content they had produced.

The team built a functioning prototype in 15 days, iterated at the speed of light, and presented a polished Demo Day pitch in both San Francisco and New York City to resounding applause. “I’m a big fan of constraints,” Jacob laughs. “By the end, we had a real product.”

Today, that product is Pie. Download it from the App Store.