The Brandery has decided to feature more of our companies, mentors and founders! Please take this opportunity to learn more about one of our co-founders, Rob McDonald!
1. Tell us about yourself! Who are you and how are you involved with the Brandery?
I’m Rob. I’m a Co-Founder of The Brandery. I’m also an attorney at a local law firm called Taft Stettinius and Hollister, LLP. Prior to attending law school, I worked in advertising for TBWA\Chiat\Day, so I have an odd mix of marketing, venture capital, and law experience. As my co-founders sometimes joke, I’m the co-founder that makes sure that no one gets in trouble and that we are doing everything by the book. In all seriousness though, all of the co-founders are pretty good about trading off responsibilities between each other based on capacity. So, my role is ever changing but includes working with the companies on a daily basis, assisting our Brandery team to manage our day-to-day operational needs, and thinking strategically about what The Brandery should be doing.
2. Why are you passionate about the startup community here in Cincinnati?
When I moved to Cincinnati in 2009 it was clear that we had a problem; smart young professionals were fleeing. I thought that if The Brandery could be successful in fostering a high-tech start-up community in Cincinnati, there would be a palpable energy that would not only stop young people from fleeing Cincinnati, but also draw top talent to Cincinnati. Dave and JB convinced me when we all first met that we had the ability to reverse the course locally. I’ve said it before but 3 years removed from when we launched The Brandery and I feel like we are the precipice of something pretty special. I think this must be how the Napa vineyards felt in the 1970’s. They thought they could take on the French and create world class wines. I feel like we can take on the coasts. We have some start-ups that are proving this.
3. What is your biggest piece of advice for applicants and aspiring entrepreneurs?
Tough question. I regret that I likely have too much advice for applicants and aspiring entrepreneurs. The one major learning for me over the last three years has been to focus on people, not ideas. In our first year, we really focused more heavily on ideas (i.e. What idea does the applicant have?). In year 2, we focused more on team (i.e. Who is on the team?). In year 3, we started to get even smarter and focused on the team and the idea (i.e. Does the team have the capacity to execute the idea?). Now, I think we have gotten relatively good at selecting teams that have the capability and grit to create a business. The term grit has been used quite a bit in education recently, but it is absolutely necessary for entrepreneurs as well. Suffice to say, my one piece of advice would be to build out an incredible team that has the skills to execute the idea.
4. If you started a company, what would it be (does not need to be a serious answer)?
I would start a business accelerator and call it The Brandery. Just kidding. Everyday I think of 100 new businesses I want to start. Last night, I really wanted to start a company to create machines to fold my laundry for me. Kidding again, but seriously, how useful would that be!
5. What are your goals for the Brandery?
Our long term goal has always been to make the Brandery a self-sustaining community. We need the Brandery to remain a powderkeg of innovation and we need it to be built to last for several decades. I think the concept of having successful Brandery graduates fueling future Brandery graduates decade over decade is a powerful vision. So far, so good.
Have additional questions for Rob? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org!