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Two Truths and a Lie, Brandery Style

Peerio_team

As we near Demo Day 2014 (only 33 more days!) and begin to reflect on the summer, we realized we’ve learned some really… weird things about the startups in the Class of 2014. While we could just list some fun facts about the founders, we thought it may be more fun for you to guess. Therefore, we give you: two truths and a lie about six of the teams in the program.

Guess the most correctly and we’ll hook you up with two tickets to see the eleven startups pitch at the Aronoff’s Jarson-Kaplan Theater on October 15th at 8 am.

Sound like fun? Start guessing the lies.

We’ll post the results and the winner on October 1st.

Resource Roundup: How to get free legal advice for your startup

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Part of the (not fun) process of starting your own business is getting all the legal kinks hammered out: formation, patents, capitalization tables, employment, the list goes on. Your small team trying to tackle it yourselves seems risky; hiring a lawyer seems daunting. Some of the legal experts in town have an initiative to make it easier on you: free legal advice to better your business. We sat down with Lewis Goldfarb, University of Cincinnati College of Law professor and Director of the Entrepreneurship and Community Development Clinic, to learn more about the event.

Q. We hear UC and Duke Energy want to support small businesses. What’s this event you have brewing?
A. As a result of a collaboration between the College’s Entrepreneurship and Community Development Clinic and the Duke Energy Law Department, 15 lawyers from Duke and the local legal community will staff tables in the lobby of the College, offering free legal consultations of up to 30 minutes for each area to local business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs.

Q. What kind of businesses can attend?
A. We welcome anyone with business-related legal questions, whether you are an existing business owner or an aspiring one.

Q. If I go, who will I be meeting with?
A. After checking in at the front desk, you will be directed to an attorney with expertise in the area of law you choose. We will have attorneys with expertise in contracts, business startups, litigation, real estate, tax, labor & employment, environmental, non-profit, trademarks, copyrights, and patents.

Q. What kind of questions can I ask them?
A. Any questions regarding legal issues in any of the above legal areas. Examples:

  • How can I protect my product design/logo?
  • Do you have any advice on how to handle an employment issue?
  • Do you think I should pursue a patent on my invention and how do I do that?
  • What types of employment policies would you suggest?
  • How do I go about organizing a tax-exempt non-profit business?
  • What are my contract rights against a landlord/vendor/customer who does not meet their contractual obligations?
  • Are there things I can do to get my company ready for possible outside investment?
  • What is the appropriate legal structure for my business?
  • What types of contracts should I consider for my particular business?
  • What are my legal rights under a designated contract or contract provision?

Q. Why are you doing this?
A. We want to help local businesses and contribute to the economic revitalization of the Cincinnati area – that’s in everyone’s best interest. We realize that legal services can be costly to a small business on a tight budget, so we offer free help during this event. For legal issues requiring a longer representation, business may be eligible for the free legal services offered by UC’s Entrepreneurship and Community Development Clinic.

Q. Okay, I’m in. What are the details?
A. The event is being held on October 9th from 3:00PM-7:00PM at the UC College of Law (corner of Clifton Avenue and Calhoun Street). Individuals may pre-register by contacting Lori Strait at 513-556-0117 or lori.strait@uc.edu and choosing an available time slot and the area of law in which they desire legal advice. Pre-registration is encouraged; however, walk-in registration is available up to 6:15 PM on the day of the event. Details regarding the event can be found at
http://law.uc.edu/ecdc..

This post is part of a series in which we’re highlighting local resources for entrepreneurs. If there are any we miss or you wish existed, let us know!

Accelerator Update: Cincinnatians love Cincinnati, too.

Last week, we featured two entrepreneurs in our program from California who are more than pleasantly surprised with all Cincinnati has to offer. But what about the true Cincinnati folks? Three teams have been building their businesses in Cincinnati from the beginning. We wanted to step back and ask the the CEOs of our three Cincinnati startups about their experiences as entrepreneurs in Ohio and their journey to becoming part of The Brandery Class of 2014.


Eric Elias, CEO of Lagoon, 28, has led engineering teams in hardware and software projects at Clifton Labs. He has experience in finance and operations with General Electric and Nielsen. Eric’s entrepreneurship roots started at Washington University in St. Louis, working at the Skandalaris Center and starting a city-wide wireless company. Eric enjoys coffee drinking and bike riding in Over-the-Rhine.


Lagoon is a hardware/software solution to raise awareness and give actionable techniques around water consumption. The flow sensor is externally wrapped around the outside of the main water line and communicates to the smartphone app. The app provides information, actions and notifications regarding water use.

Steffan Howey, CEO of Peerio, 26, has spent the last six years in business development and sales at both startups and Fortune 500 companies. In a past life, he was the metal vocalist of a nationally-recognized touring band.


Peerio solves the problem of back-and-forth communication, Yelping, Googling, etc. when trying to meet up with someone. Whether you’re meeting with friends, a professional contact, a date, or with strangers, Peerio’s auto-geolocation and proximity tools help in selecting the best place for you to meet, based on the context of the meeting.

Matt Lenahan, CEO of HireWheel, 34, has a decade of professional experience having worked for NYC’s two largest real estate firms as a broker and referral director. While at his last company he referred over $250M of business in one year. He also co-founded a mortgage firm on Wall Street and in West Palm Beach. Matt was a finalist on the CBS television show SURVIVOR, where he went by the family nickname, “Sash.”


HireWheel allows any professional to make effortless referrals. HireWheel believes the review industry is fundamentally flawed and is setting out to change that.

How long have you been in Cincinnati? What brought you here?

Matt: I moved to Cincinnati at the end of 2013 after living in New York City for 7 years. My wife is originally from Cincinnati, and she was offered an opportunity at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. She grew up here and went to school at Miami University, but really hadn’t been back since as an adult. Because it was such a great opportunity, we packed our bags and headed to Cincinnati.

Steffan: I moved from Toledo to Cincinnati back in 2008 after deciding to follow a failing relationship down here. All reasons aside, if you’ve ever been to Toledo you would agree that it all worked out in my favor, haha.

Eric: After graduating from Washington University in St. Louis, I had a great opportunity with GE Aviation in Cincinnati. It was one of those really corporate jobs in finance. Then I went to Nielsen, where I worked in finance and operations. In 2011 I left the corporate world to work in St. Louis and Chicago for a few startups before coming back to Cincinnati to work for a startup.

What’s your Cincinnati startup story?

S: I decided to venture out into the world of entrepreneurship myself after realizing I was not a good fit in the corporate world. After all, it’s easy to ask why and criticize a company’s direction when it’s not your own. I needed to learn for myself. So I founded a company called Lomerce that allowed you to search and discover physical products in stores around you. We ended up going under due to poor inventory data, a problem our new friends at Shelfie (also a Brandery 2014 company) are trying to solve, but it taught me a ton. After that failed company, I was hooked, and I knew this was going to be my future. Now I’m here in The Brandery. Life’s funny.

M: At first I was really hesitant to move to Cincinnati because I was founding a tech company and I really doubted that any city could have the type of resources that New York does, with the exception of Silicon Valley. I’ve been pleasantly surprised, but even more so, overwhelmed, because it’s an awesome community and there is such amazing support for startup founders.

E: While I was away in St. Louis, in 2010 and 2011, you could really see the seeds of the startup scene growing, especially with the first Brandery class being in that year. I kept seeing the trajectory of startup culture that was going on in Cincinnati, so I came back to work for a startup here. I also joined my friend’s development shop, Clifton Labs, where half of our clients were startups. By 2013, three of my friends had moved back to Cincinnati, too, and we started working on side projects together. One of those turned in to Lagoon.

And why did you choose to stay?

M: There are so many resources superior to those in NYC that I’ve been able to tap into. It’s been an awesome experience so far and I couldn’t have asked for anything more.

E: We chose to stay both for the support the city provides and the strong networks you can create. It’s so easy to get intros and have access to high level executives and mentors; it’s literally one phone call away. For us, being a hardware company, we are able to have a 2000 square foot workshop in Over-the-Rhine to create our technology, which is a huge advantage of this neighborhood.
We looked at other incubators, but knew we wanted to have a consumer-facing brand and we needed to have that experience to encourage people to change the way they use water. We love Cincinnati. It’s such a huge support structure.

S: Once I was here, I fell in love with the city and I’ve never looked back since.

What is your favorite part about the city?

E: I love our OTR neighborhood. It’s where literally everyone knows your name. From the restaurants to the small businesses to the people you run into, it’s great.

S: I love that you get the perks of a big city but you can still have a meeting with anyone that you want to. It’s got a big city feel with all the small town benefits.

M: I have to piggyback. The opportunity to create genuine relationships is my favorite part. The other day my wife came down to OTR for her birthday. Just walking from The Brandery to Senate, I saw four people I knew eating outside that said “hey” or gave me high fives. The community has been really great.

What has been the best part about building your business in the Midwest?

E: When we test consumer groups, it applies to a larger population. The demographics in this area are great for testing opinions. We’ve had huge support, too. Confluence has been extremely supportive, the Department of Commerce, Sally and Roy at the EPA, Marc Connor and his team at POSSIBLE, and then The Brandery mentors from Mark Achler to Hunter Thurman have been incredible. That system of support helps you ensure your startup will keep living.

M: No one has ever said no. Never. Even before The Brandery started, people were willing to take meetings and reach out. Every meeting I take, people ask, “How can I help?”

S: The Midwest is full of helpful people who genuinely want to help your business succeed. And if they can’t help you, they can find someone who can. More specifically, if you’re connected through The Brandery or a company like P&G, you are only a degree or two away from literally anyone that you might want to meet with. It continues to amaze me.

The worst?

E: For us, we are addressing a water conservation issue and the Ohio Valley has a river and has enough water. Balancing that and our target consumers is a challenge.

M: From a recruiting standpoint, it’s a challenge when speaking with people who have never been here before. Once they’re here, they get it. They see how amazing it is. It’s just getting them here for the first time. Cincinnati is such an easy sell once they get here, but getting over the initial barrier is a challenge. Plus, CVG is expensive to fly to.

S: If you want to raise money here, you only have a handful of options. It’s getting better though with heavy hitters like Drive Capital. Special shout out to our mentor Mark Kvamme!

What has been the best part of The Brandery so far?

E: The people. I love our teams so much. They have great ideas and are so supportive. We are competitive but we all work together— from marketing, to development, to helping you find an apartment. The Brandery structure is good as far as creating a level of urgency. It’s not about the money, it’s about the push forward.

M: Mentors are an incredible asset. And getting the opportunity to work with the agencies. Plus, the internet is amazing. I’ve never seen so many developers geek out so hard.

S: Seconded on everything these guys just said. I would also add that the Brandery provides a kick-ass office full of amenities. From catered meals multiple times per week, to awesome snacks and an unlimited supply of coffee, beer, and the obligatory startup staple – foosball. Oh, and the internet is literally off the charts. Thanks Cincinnati Bell!

What can fellow Cincinnatians do to help you be successful?

E: Check out our website and get on The Brandery’s beta list.

M: Follow us on Twitter and other social media for updates on what we are doing and how to get involved.

S: We need people to try out our first product, our mobile app. We need the feedback. Sign up for an early beta version of the app and give us your thoughts. Any business owner that owns a cafe or restaurant and would like to get more involved with startups, we have a lot of ideas on ways our product to drive traffic to your location. Those early conversations are important to us, so send us a note.

NOTE: You can get on The Brandery’s beta list here.

Any last thoughts?

S: The momentum in Cincinnati is incredible. The proud and competitive feeling I get when another Cincinnati startup closes a round of funding, hires people, or gets a new office is inexplainable. Frameri closes a round, hires a bunch of people and opens a new office, Roadtrippers hires their 40th employee – all of these things provide an insane amount of the “founder juice” necessary to keep the momentum going for our own company. I’m just so proud of what’s happening here in Cincinnati and would recommend anyone to spend just a few days here. You’ll quickly understand what we’ve been talking about.

E: These other great startups like Choremonster and Ahalogy, they have paved the way for us.

M: Modulus exiting was huge too. The momentum… There’s so much happening right now. We know we are on the verge of something bigger in Cincinnati and we just hope to be a part of it.

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Photos in this post courtesy of Christa Belle Martin | Black Bread Box Studio

Guest Post: 10 Ways To Build A Rock Solid Marketing Engine For Your Startup

When my company, Leap, was in the Brandery class of 2012, we had a “spray and pray” approach to marketing. It was really just pure hustle and a little bit of luck that helped us reach 50,000 downloads for our mobile app in a matter of weeks.

As we started to grow, I marched on out to the Valley thinking a nice chunk of change (a few hundred thousand) was going to fall into our laps and all would be right with the world.

But it didn’t exactly work out like that.

Now there are a lot of reasons why and there are a lot of mistakes that our team made that we can talk about, but today I want to talk marketing. Specifically what mistakes we made (which are also mistakes I see other early stage companies making), what I would have done differently knowing what I know now, and finally a little bit about the approach (and some juicy tips for you) that I use today.

Where I Messed Up

When it came time to raise the big bucks for Leap, I struggled to answer these questions:

  • How do you guys get users long term (beyond press and App Store features)?
  • What’s your revenue model?
  • Who’s your target audience?
  • What’s your unique value proposition?
  • What’s your customer acquisition cost? LTV?
  • How are you focusing on marketing right now?

My answers were weak. Something along the lines of…

“Well, we’re building partnerships with influencers so that they can build communities on Leap and it spreads organically because people share content from the app. Basically, once we build up the user base we’re going to bring brands onto the platform so that they can create challenges on our app. Right now our audience is pretty broad – we’re narrowing down into some of the really active communities we see doing challenges. We’re too early to know our customer acquisition cost.”

Now that I spent time working at a VC firm last year and now help fast growing companies scale their online marketing, I slap my forehead when I think back to those days. And you wouldn’t believe the amount of companies that I talk to that really can’t answer these basic questions and are hoping to raise a $1 million seed round from investors.

What You Can Learn From My Mistakes

When I read the example of my answers above, here’s what I think today:

“Ok, this company doesn’t truly know who their customer is – I think they’re going to have a hard time finding a scalable way to generate growth (PR & features won’t do it). Since they aren’t 100% who they’re going after, how do they find the right channels for their business?

Hmm… if they aren’t really focused on a core audience to start with, then overall their marketing is going to be tough since they can’t really communicate a unique value proposition.

And they don’t really have a revenue model so finding out how to spend money to acquire users at breakeven isn’t going to happen until they figure out how to make money, since ‘going viral’ isn’t how 99.999% of businesses are built.”

Now let’s use that to think about the takeaways for your company, and we’ll drill down into some actionable tips.

Here’s what I want you to think about:

Who is my customer? What problem am I really solving for them?

  • Actionable tip #1: take your most active existing users and put them in a spreadsheet.
  • Actionable tip #2: create columns with their name, email, & Facebook profile page. Then stalk the crap out of them. Go onto Facebook and find out what books they read, how old they are, male or female, where they live, what websites they like, what interests they have, what groups they are a part of, grab everything you think will be useful.
  • Actionable tip #3: then find them on LinkedIn and do the same thing. Look for patterns – this is how you’re going to find out who your customer is. (H/T to Noah Kagan’s Summer of Marketing for this)

How are you going to get people to use your product?

  • Actionable tip #4: use that list above to find out where those people are hanging out online and what their interests are, and what demographics your biggest fans have in common.
  • Actionable tip #5: go build out some Facebook Ad campaigns targeting that same person! (You can check out the Crush Campaigns blog for more tips on how to actually structure your campaigns).
  • Actionable tip #6: next find out what the biggest players in your market are already doing! Spy on their ads using SEMRush. They’ve probably spend a crap-ton of money getting customers, so find out what channels are already working for them. You can get a good guess by filtering out ads and campaigns that have been running for a long time.
  • Actionable tip #7: put all that competitive stuff in a spreadsheet. Find out as much as you can about where they get traffic, what they’re doing on social, etc. Not only will you have a better idea of where you focus your attention, but you’ll know where the gaps you can exploit as a little scrappy startup are.
  • Actionable tip #8: now you have a good idea who your customer is and how to find more of them. Write down 3 things that you can test each week (3 ways you can reach this customer). Validate or invalidate great potential user acquisition channels over time. See how much it costs you to get an email address, a download, or a customer and track the results!
  • Actionable tip #9: And this is how you’re focusing on marketing right now. You’ll sound really smart, like you know what you’re doing :)

What’s your customer acquisition cost? What’s your revenue model, etc.?

  • Actionable tip #10: Hopefully you have a revenue model. But the rest of the stuff will begin falling into place once you start these activities. Trust me, you’ll start to have a MUCH better understanding on marketing.

Final Tip

It’s never too early to start experimenting – so get started on this stuff now. You’ll have a much deeper understanding of your market, your customers, and how you’ll grow. Finally, you won’t have the short term “spray and pray” approach that Leap did – and when you’re ready to pound the pavement and talk to investors, you’ll be ready to answer some of those tough questions.

Author

James Dickerson is the Founder of Crush Campaigns, an online marketing agency that helps innovative companies acquire more customers.

Brand Camp: The First Two Weeks

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We sat down with two of our startup co-founders in The Brandery Class of 2014, Connor Bowlan and Joel Green, to ask about their first two weeks at The Brandery. Connor Bowlan, 24 (CEO) studied sociology at the University of California, Merced. He previously served as the technical cofounder of a startup that built tools to automate bookings for residential cleaning services. Connor has spent time all over the world, most recently in Botswana where he attended the University of Botswana, studied micro-social interactions, and explored Southern Africa by motorcycle. Joel Green, 21 (CEO), is a mobile and python developer who recently dropped out of the University of California Santa Barbara. Over the last several years, Joel has spent time developing robotics, conducting undergraduate research at UCSB, building automated lab tools, and participating in hackathons as an iOS developer. Previous to engineering, Joel has spent time as a Jazz pianist and music composer.


Connor (left) and Joel (right) sporting red shirts under the Cincinnati sign.

What is the most surprising thing about Cincinnati so far?

Joel: I’ve definitely been surprised at how friendly people are. Especially compared to California, everyone is so willing to help with things all the time. I’m more than pleasantly surprised by Cincinnati. I’m pretty stoked on this place. My plan is to stay here as long as it is in the best interest of my startup, and I see no downside of that at all. I’m really happy here.

Connor: It’s such a close knit community. There’s no fatigue related to startups like in the Bay Area. If you tell someone you’re going to startup in the Bay Area you usually get an eye roll and they change the conversation. Here, they ask you what you are doing and ask you how they can help. The main thing is that people are welcoming and open to it. It’s not seen as a threat.

Joel: Another thing that surprised me is how much design and marketing talent there is here. I’d never really known that much about Cincinnati, besides a few things I’d read here or there. Once I did my research, I said, “Oh, okay. There is P&G, and there is Kroger, and there are some headquarters here.” But once I got here, I was like, “Wow, UC is here and marketers are literally everywhere.” It’s amazing. If San Francisco is known as the city of tech, Cincinnati is the city of marketing. It’s pretty big.


Best part about the city?

Joel: So far, the cost of living is definitely my favorite part, plus there’s so much to do here. Honestly, for half the price of a really crappy place in California, I’m living in the nicest place here. This is the kind of place I imagined I’d be living in if I sold my company, not when it’s just starting out, and it’s so easily within budget. Also, the architecture is super ancient and cool but everyone here is so high-tech and into the latest things and carrying around the newest device.

Connor: There’s so much excitement and enthusiasm for the OTR area. It extends past startups, to small businesses in general. Everyone wants to introduce you to their connections. They don’t see their connections as resources, but more of interpersonal relationships. It takes one day to get a reference to anyone in the city.


What has been the best day of The Brandery so far?

Joel: Brand in a Day was definitely very interesting. It was early, and a lot of stuff was going on, so it was challenging, but it was so productive. My favorite day was when we started Failbone/Quack with Connor and [Connor’s co-founder] Rhett because thats when we got to know each other the best. Failbone originally spawned from Connor playing a trombone noise whenever someone failed at something. Then, we built an app that played it in a radius on everyones phone. From there, Connor decided to come up with his own thing, Quack, which evolved into what we all use now at The Brandery.

Wait… so what’s Quack?

Connor: Quack is a location-based messaging platform that removes all barriers to interaction. It allows people to communicate quickly and efficiently, much like you would in real life. Theres also an element of humor in it, which really brings people into the platform and allows them to express themselves without the fear of guilt or judgement. The thing that excites me most about Quack is that if you’re not staring at it all the time, you feel like youre left out of the joke. It makes you feel like you were last picked for the baseball team in elementary school, so it forces you to look at the app all the time. It’s like having an inside joke that everyone within 400 feet is in on.

Joel: At this point, there’s an iOS, Andrioid, and Pebble version of Quack which have come together from members of three different startups. It’s like a monstrosity of a startup that has spawned out of all the companies. The funniest part is it’s the most popular one.


A screenshot of Quack for iOS.



What is the most unique part of The Brandery?

Connor: The excitement and palpable feeling that everyone is on the edge of something big is really exciting. Everyone is silently (and sometimes not silently) pushing each other forward. My favorite thing is being around other people every day while I work. For the past eight months or so, it’s just been me in a room working, but that is not exciting as being around people everyday who are so much more inspiring.

Joel: I’m surprised at how many resources The Brandery actually provides. The $20k seems almost insignificant compared to how many resources we actually get. Any resource you could possibly need is pretty much available on the first floor— at any hour— just by asking the other startups in the room.

Connor: I didn’t realize how much I would actually think of The Brandery as home. After we’d been here for two weeks, we felt like we’d been here for two months. We were able to get integrated so quickly. You have an ex-Army Ranger sitting next to a 19 year-old college dropout, who is sitting next to the drummer from a platinum selling rock band, who is sitting next to a finalist from Survivor. Where else will you find that?


What has been the most beneficial part in building your business?

Connor: The mentors have been great in getting us to think about things we hadn’t even considered before. The mentors have leveraged a lot of resources for us and helped connect us to a lot of people. They give us a lot of quick insights that they have from years and years of experience that help us focus and not flail around and not know what we doing. It’s also surprising how much the big corporations in Cincinnati are willing to help. Usually, in the stereotypical startup narrative, they are the villains. But really, they are so open and willing to help with mentoring, which is impressive.

Joel: There are 12 startups from all diverse backgrounds here, so whether its development, connections, marketing, life, or business, there are always people there to help you. That’s the most powerful thing. Having everyone here 24/7 is the best thing so far.

Keep checking back for more updates on The Brandery Class of 2014, including info on their startups and their continued transition in Cincinnati. #Brandery2014

#Brandery2014 Kicks Off In Just Three Weeks

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Recruiting season, application season, reviewing season, and interviewing season flew by this year. It’s already June, and we’ve (after many, many hours of vetting and debating) selected twelve startups for our fifth accelerator class. The program begins on June 25th, but the teams have already started to trickle in. While we would love to share the ideas with you, we can’t just yet!

We promise you’ll hear more about the teams and their startups soon. In the meantime, here’s some stats about the applicants and the incoming class:

  • This was our largest number of applicants in five classes.
  • We had applicants from 58 countries— the most ever.
  • We had applicants from 33 states.
  • Over half of the out of town finalists flew to Cincinnati for their interview. That’s dedication!
  • The 2014 class includes four Ohio companies.
  • The other states represented in the class are California, New York, South Carolina, Mississippi, Massachusetts, Texas, and Illinois. We have one international company, hailing from Argentina.
  • The 2014 class has an average age of 28.
  • The biggest age difference in the class is 24 years, with the youngest founder being 19 and the oldest (wisest) being 43.

Follow the hashtag #Brandery2014 for updates from the companies and for more fun facts from us. If you’d like to help us welcome the teams to Cincinnati, send us a note. We would love your help in convincing them how great Cincinnati is.

Want to get access to the same resources as The Brandery companies? Register for Cincinnati Startup Day on June 14th.

Reason #31: Proven history of success.

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Over the last four summers, we’ve accelerated 35 startups, raising a total of over $44 million. Backed by the previous 30 reasons, there is no surprise that Brandery graduates do big things. We’ve showed you the rankings and the reasons. Now, there’s nothing left to do but apply.

Deadline III is April 15 at midnight and the final deadline to apply is May 1. However, we are currently interviewing candidates, so the sooner your startup applies, the better.

I am a mentor for many accelerator programs. The Brandery is one of the country’s best. Participating companies benefit immensely from Cincinnati’s many global brands, leading agencies, and market research companies.

– Joe Medved, SoftBank Capital

Reason #30: Now's the time to start up.

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As Forbes detailed earlier this year, 2014 “will be the best one to run a business that we’ve seen in a long time. It’s also a very good time to start one.” This “Golden Age” of entrepreneurship has also spurred easier, faster ways to fundraise and more general support for founders, including accelerators like us. With your idea, drive, and our assistance working in tandem with an improving economy and general optimism, now is the time to start up. The Brandery could be just the boost you need.

In a world where the costs to build a company and the technical barriers to enter a market are decreasing rapidly, marketing and brand strategy have become critical to building enterprise value. The Brandery focuses in this area and offers a unique value to their portfolio with access to some of the best brand managers and marketing strategists in the world today.

– Phin Barnes, First Round Capital

Apply to The Brandery today.

Reason #29: The Cintrifuse fund of funds.

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Our friends a few blocks down at Cintrifuse have created a fund of funds to invest in venture capital firms. The fund has closed $51 million to date and is believed to be the largest privately funded, first-time regional fund of funds in the country. Investors include American Financial Group, Castellini Management Company, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Duke Energy, The Greater Cincinnati Foundation, The Kroger Co., Messer Financial Services, Procter & Gamble, the University of Cincinnati and Western & Southern Financial Group. Because of the nature of the fund, VCs are consistently visiting to learn more. The VC firms Cintrifuse has invested in include Allois Ventures, UpFront Ventures, and Sigma Prime.

It’s amazing over the last six months how many VCs have been coming through town to meet with Cintrifuse. The $50M+ dollar fund of funds, whose investors are cincinnati’s largest companies and organizations, has resulted in a steady flow of the top early stage investors around the country meeting with our startups.

– Mike Bott, General Manager of The Brandery

Apply to The Brandery now.

Photo courtesy of WCPO.

Reason #28: We are the #1 accelerator in the country for industry-specific mentorship.

As you know, we recently broke in to the top ten accelerators in the nation. But what we really were satisfied to see are the sub-rankings. Here’s how we stacked up:

  • The Brandery ranked #5 in average valuation across all portfolio companies,
  • #4 in average valuation across all portfolio companies one year after graduation,
  • #4 in average valuation across all portfolio companies two years after graduation,
  • #4 in overall satisfaction with mentorship,
  • #3 in satisfaction with mentorship in management and financial issues,
  • And #1 accelerator in the nation for satisfaction with mentorship in industry-specific knowledge

via seedrankings.com

What does industry-specific knowledge mean? It means we’ve found a team of unbelievable mentors from across the nation that choose to donate their time to our startups. The breadth of their work means they can relate to the startups they are paired with, and moreover, know how to help. The rankings say it all: we do this better than anyone in the country.

Data like this lets us know we’re on the right track— and we want you to be part of it. Today is Deadline II to apply. Deadline III is Friday, April 18th. We will extend offers as we vet startups, so the earlier the better. Apply to The Brandery now.

Reason #27: Cincinnati is a great place to live.

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We mentioned before that Cincinnati is a great place to build a business, but we think you’ll love the city, too. Some of the things we love include a thriving local beer and food scene, social media savvy citizens, and a reputation as the “Arts Mecca of the Midwest.” The people are creative, friendly, and know how to have a good time. Read more about all Cincinnati has to offer here.

Having grown up overseas and lived in New York, Chicago, and Washington, DC (among other cities), I decided to make Cincinnati my home because of the quality of life. Cincinnati has world class performing arts, provides easy access to professional sports, and has a large creative class. Within three blocks of The Brandery, there are many new bars and restaurants that have become hot spots.

– Rob McDonald, Co-founder of The Brandery and attorney at Taft, Stettinius and Hollister

Apply to The Brandery now.

Reason #26: Other cool perks.

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We love our partners. We get all kinds of cool things for our companies, from discounts on food and coffee to free concert tickets. Hopefully it makes having fun a little easier on your wallet. In the past, we’ve taken our startups to Reds games on the party deck, to Bunbury music festival, and to an OTR bar crawl on the Pedal Wagon, thanks to the incredibly supportive local community.

The Brandery gave us so much value, from branding to connections to discounts. Because we were a ‘Brandery company,’ we got all kinds of perks and people were just willing to help us out.

– Konrad Billetz, CEO, Frameri