Erickson's online startup, Spice Apps, is among nearly 300 companies that applied this week to join the inaugural class of the Portland Incubator Experiment, the Pearl District entrepreneurship lab hosted by advertising firm Wieden+Kennedy. Historically, Portland hasn't been a go-to destination for Internet entrepreneurs. There isn't a single truly large online company based in Oregon and the state hasn't grown a really big tech business in decades. But Wieden+Kennedy enlisted three of its big-name clients -- Coke, Nike and Target -- along with Internet titan Google, to provide mentorship and financial support for the Portland incubator. In exchange for a 6 percent ownership stake, PIE offers access to its brand partners, office space at Wieden+Kennedy for three months, mentorship and $18,000. That's captured the attention of entrepreneurs around the country. PIE is casting itself as an open, freewheeling experience, Erickson said, with a brand orientation that dovetails neatly with what Spice Apps is trying to do: build "niche communities" online, for household brands. "They can connect us to major brands and have mentors with real world experience in areas we're trying to solve/improve," Erickson wrote in an email. PIE's application deadline closed Monday night and its managers have spent the week combing through the submissions. Of the 290 applicants, general manager Rick Turoczy says, 60 percent are from outside Oregon.