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HackOTR is Coming

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It’s that time of year again. The air smells fresh, the sound of Reds’ home runs can be heard from Great American Ball Park, and the sight of a bunch of brainiacs heading into 1411 Vine Street to compete in an all-out mental brawl fills the streets. Yes, it’s that time of year again: time for the one and only HackOTR to make its way back to The Brandery. We’re bringing back the basics of the event—awesome sponsors, shiny prizes, experienced mentors—while offering new hacks and hosting a brilliant group of hackers ready to work and binge-drink Redbull for twenty-four straight hours (just kidding about that Redbull part… we also have Mountain Dew and coffee).

For the tech-savvy, one new hack offers a hardware-based objective to those who believe they can handle the challenge. Not familiar with coding or working much with programming? No problem, we’ve got another type of challenge tailored for the business-oriented minds. Our marketing and design challenge will allow product marketers and designers to get just as involved as everyone else without even having to write one line of code.

Last time’s hackers were able to walk out of The Brandery office with more than just a smile on their face. Strap from The Brandery’s Class of 2014 led a side-hack last year and awarded one winning team with Pebble smartwatches for their ingenuity. Other hackers from last year won Frameri sunglasses, Dell computers, and even three months of office space in Cintrifuse (check out the full article on everyone’s success). This time around, similar prizes will be offered by both sponsors and teams from The Class of 2015; and although goodies like these might be enough to entice some to take part in the event, the real reward comes from providing and receiving valuable input from a rare hacking holiday that only comes around once in a blue moon.

Hackers who survive the twenty-four hour gauntlet of grinding may continue their work with The Brandery or one of the companies from the Class of ’15. Aman Tsegai—coding expert and now Technology Intern for The Brandery—participated in the last hackathon and created some work that was so impressive The Brandery just had to have him. The start-ups from the Class of 2015 are always looking for new faces to join their team (internships, part-time, or full-time), which is one of the best prizes the event can offer.



If you’re interested in attending or even participating in the event, here’s some quick info to get you started:

What: HackOTR offers the opportunity of creating small projects that can make a big difference within a friendly yet competitive atmosphere that fosters intellectual growth. Teams from The Brandery’s Class of 2015 Brandery itself, and others will be challenging hackers to complete core hacks and side hacks, or objective-based competitions where hackers will create what they can imagine in the time they are given. These objectives can range from being marketing/design based or purely technological, but it’s up to the hackers themselves to decide exactly what type of project they want to work on and what they wish to create.

Who: Anyone. Well, almost anyone. We’re looking for people who are genuinely interested in grinding out work for a full twenty-four hour day but having a blast while doing so. You don’t need to be a programmer, start-up aficionado, or even a graduate from college. All you need is some enthusiasm, creativity for making something great, and a focused mind (a few cups of coffee might help too). Tickets are sold and divided into three categories: Product Marketer, Visual/UX Designer, and Developer. Whether you’re someone looking for a team to join or bringing a full squad of your own, we’ll welcome your interest and input.

When: The event check-in officially begins Friday, August 7th at 4:00 PM and continues onward until Saturday, August 8th at 5:00 PM.

Where: HackOTR takes place in The Brandery office on 1411 Vine Street, Cincinnati, OH 45202.

Why: Well, why not? We’ve had immense success in the past and truly believe this kind of opportunity offers an experience that local Cincinnatians have come to love and learn from.

We hope to see you hacking soon! If you’re interested in getting even more information about HackOTR, check out its website and FAQ’s here or email Jess for any questions not already answered on the site.

Introducing The Brandery Class of 2015

After teasing you with some information and demographics about our Brandery 2015 Class, we think it’s about time to announce who exactly these entrepreneurs are and what they’re cooking up in our lab. This week we’ll give a brief introduction for each startup, followed by a one-on-one interview with each company coming in the following weeks. But for now, without further ado, let’s take a look at who we’ll be housing in OTR over the next few months.

Cue drumroll please.

AdAdapted, led by Mike Pedersen (CEO) and Molly McFarland (CMO), is a context-aware mobile advertising platform with the ability to make advertisements feel more connected to the user. It also helps app publishers unlock new inventory while providing brands with the tools to access that inventory at scale and with transparency. Mike has a strong past of programming with Amplifinity but also has great experience designing and selling programs for large companies such as Visa, Walmart, and DirecTV. Molly is an alum from Tulane University and also worked with Amplifinity as the Director of Marketing, and brings her experience from her former position to AdAdapted as a killer marketing expert.

The Burnout Games is a Cincinnati-based customer acquisition and retention tool for mass participation events. The three musketeers of this team consist of Daryn Hillhouse (CEO), Nick Rattermann (CTO), and John Gordos (Technical Advisor). From Aegis Defense Systems in London to large-scale oil and gas contracts in Washington DC, Daryn has had experience with event management and other fields from numerous countries across the world. Nick is an expert when it comes to the tech-y stuff, having created technological projects and worked for Engility Corp up at Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio. When it comes to computers and coding, John brings years of wisdom to the class. John led teams responsible for implementing the Sunny Delight’s ERP system, the Warehouse Management System, Business Intelligence, and the Data Warehouse.

GILD Collective provides unique in-home craft parties with curated project kits and detailed instruction. Led by three women with a passion for building others’ confidence and self-esteem, GILD provides events and parties with a unique crafting experience that can’t be matched nor duplicated by other services. Jessie Deye (CEO), Kelsey Pytlik (Chief Experience Officer), and Rachel Bauer (Chief Creative Officer) combine to form GILD’s all-star team of event experts. Jessie worked for a number of firms dealing with shopper behavior and consumer analytics, making her a pro on ever-changing market demands. Kelsey is a UI/UX-pert and is helping GILD achieve its goal of empowering women’s self-confidence while driving the GILD business forward through consumer acquisition and satisfaction. Rachel, a proud Cincinnatian but world-wide traveler, is the left-side of the brain behind GILD’s operations. Being a professional calligrapher and watercolor artist, Rachel’s art-driven mind provides the designs and ideas behind GILD’s unique and innovative creations.

GoSkip empowers shoppers to scan, pay, and skip the checkout line with the convenience of their phone. GoSkip’s founders—Chase Thompson (CEO) and David Tolioupov (CTO)—are here to re-define the shopping experience make life easier for the all of us, allowing shoppers of all kinds to skip those long checkout lines hassle-free. Chase holds strong experience through the management of HRM and CRM Systems at Property Solutions and also through his involvement with Moki as the Director of Business Development. David does not fall short of the highly talented Brandery pool, being able to speak four languages and having past work experience with software at M86 Security. And if that doesn’t impress you, perhaps one of his four of his degrees from Boston College will.

Lukla uses the same technology applied by NASA as insulation in their spacesuits to make outerwear slimmer, warmer, and sleeker. Whether you’re hiking a mountain, hitting the slopes, or traveling space itself, Lukla keeps you warm without sacrificing style. Michael Markesbery (CEO) graduated from Miami University with degrees in Zoology, Neuroscience, and Entrepreneurship. He has also received numerous publications on his work in developing a therapeutic treatment for cancer, a scholarship from NASA’s Astronaut Foundation— and he has presented his work to the United States Congress. His Co-Founder, Massimiliano Squire, graduated from Bocconi University with a Bachelor’s Degree in International Economics, Management, and Finance. Like David from GoSkip, Massimiliano speaks four different languages and has traveled across a number of different countries.

Triplust lets travelers message trusted locals for insider advice in cities around the world, allowing visitors to partake in a true, native experience that is unique for each city. Jordan Axani (CEO) may be known globally for his trip around the world, but around The Brandery he is known as the leader of Tripust and the Canadian organizer of our 4th of July party. He grew up learning the basics of business from his family’s advertising agency, and later studied marketing, consulting, and real estate development to become an eminent figure in one of North America’s preeminent boutique firms. Andrew Vine (COO) is a bit of an international man himself, having worked with and helping manage Canada’s former Prime Minister, Paul Martin. He would later help train agriculture entrepreneurs and develop sustainable supply-chains in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The last team member, Sebastien Filion (CTO), owns a vast amount of intellect and expertise in the startup world. After working for a large hotelier and traveling the world, he decided to create his own company. Although some problems arose with his first startup, he learned a great amount about the startup world and would later find Andrew and Sebastien to create the driven team they are today. Check out Triplust’s test product if you’re in Cincinnati for All Star festivities.

Wyzerr is reinventing the way businesses collect and analyze consumer feedback by building fun, fast, and easy smart-technology that looks and feels like games. Natasia Malaihollo (CEO and Lead Programmer) has an extensive history of expertise in legal studies and programming. She first learned to code as a freshman at UC Berkeley, but later followed her desire to become a lawyer and even partake in infringement cases between Apple and Samsung. Bjorn “BK” Simmons (CMO) combines his knowledge and experience of politics with marketing to create an asset key to Wyzerr’s success. Graduating with a BSBA in Marketing from the University of Arkansas – Fayetteville and later spending four years with the Georgia State Legislature, BK now greatly aids Wyzerr in brand development, strategic partnerships, and business relations. Stedmon Harper is working on his third startup with Wyzerr, aiding the company through his engagement with experiential marketing, market research, and creative services.

Jersey Watch is growing a local sports network that offers team websites and online payments, while connecting brands to targeted communities and households. Founders Tim Gusweiler and David Carter are proud Ohioans who have a knack for sports and the athletic world. Tim manages the sales, operations, and customer service of Jersey Watch while David leads the company in business strategy and development. Tim and David met and graduated from Ohio University, and continue to work fervently to create a better sports experience for teams and individuals alike.

Benchmark Intelligence is a location analytics platform for retail and restaurant chains that reveals why certain locations make more money than others. Jordan Skole has been a long-time outdoors enthusiast, and has grown up in a geospatial world. He previously ran his own digital agency, led a reputation management department for GM and Chrysler, and was the director of marketing and growth for a venture-backed startup in the enterprise software space. Eric Santos conducts himself as a great business partner with Jordan after becoming a successful entrepreneur himself. From launching startups and co-founding companies such as Soshowise, Scheduly, WishBooklet, and Dwibbles, Eric has nothing but ingenuity and potential to bring to the Benchmark team.

Casamatic matches you to the perfect home by learning about the people and activities that you love, through an engaging and highly personalized experience. When you find the perfect home, we pair you up with an expert real estate agent to go see it in-person—instantly. Alex Bowman (CEO) is a marketing and analytics expert with experience stemming from his time spent working with Blackberry and Kindle Fire. He later helped ChoreMonster with its growth marketing and became a huge fan and co-organizer of Startup Weekend Cincinnati, among other local tech meetups. Chris Ridenour (CTO) began his work as an undergrad within Procter and Gamble’s GBS Innovation group and later joined Rockfish Digital to help them build mobile and web applications for some of the world’s biggest brands. Chris also founded Cincinnati-based startup LISNR as CTO, but followed his passion and joined with Alex to create Casamatic only two years later.

The Brandery is proud to call these ten companies our Class of 2015, and we see nothing but potential for their aspirations to grow. With roughly three months left on our calendar until Demo Day, the quick moving and even quicker thinking entrepreneurs are hustling to get work done and show their progress along the way. Make sure to stay tuned into our blog for further updates and interviews with our class and visit HackOTR site to check out our next major upcoming event!

The Brandery Class of 2015

The Class of 2015 is officially locked, and we couldn’t be happier. We have a killer lineup of founders ready to take their startups to the next level. Here’s some fun facts about the group. We’ll be sharing one hint about the startups every day on our social media accounts for the next ten days— the cartoons will demonstrate the problem each of the startups is solving. Any guesses to the markets we’re tackling this year?

2015 Application Data Is Out

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New year, new records. Applicants to our Class of 2015 have, again, topped our charts. Here are the stats:

  • Total applications increased by 10% — our most ever.
  • Applications came from 32 states— the most being Ohio, California, and New York, in that order.
  • About 20% of applicants were from Ohio.
  • Applications came from 48 countries— after the U.S., the most being India, Canada, and the UK.
  • A little over 50% of applicants had at least one minority or female co-founder.
  • Roughly two-thirds of our finalists visited Cincinnati over the last few weeks— many of them flew in just for their 30 minute interview. That is dedication!

When choosing companies, we look for 1) a great idea with a sizable market, 2) a great team with varied skill sets, and 3) how well the startups’ needs fit into our capabilities. We saw dozens and dozens (maybe even hundreds) of startups who fulfilled the first two requirements, but just weren’t a good fit for us. It’s not fair to either of us to take equity in a business we can’t help.

That being said, our sixth class of startups begins on June 16. We couldn’t be more excited to finish up the selection process and welcome the founders. If you applied, look for a decision email by the end of the week. Thank you to all applicants— this pool was the highest in quality and number we’ve ever seen. We remain dedicated to finding a resource for entrepreneurs in Cincinnati that fits— either way, we hope to see you at a Brandery event soon!

As for the new class, our plan is to share some information about the founders in June. You’ll hear more about the startups in July, but trust us, this class has serious promise. Looking forward to sharing more soon.

RentShare and Chalky Announce Acquisitions

“This acquisition is a huge milestone and is a testament to all the hard work and dedication we’ve put towards our product and company. We’re thrilled to be joining the i3 Verticals team and I’m incredibly appreciative of all The Brandery did for us over the years to assist in kick-starting and growing RentShare, helping lead us to this opportunity.”

- Ian Halpern, CEO, RentShare


We’re thrilled to announce that two graduates of The Brandery, RentShare (2011) and Chalky (2013), have been acquired. RentShare has been acquired by i3 Verticals, a technology-centric payment company focused on providing solutions to its clients throughout the U.S. Chalky has been acquired by Admittedly, a platform that helps high school students find their dream schools and get accepted.


Charlie and Isaac, the co-founders of Chalky

“The Brandery had a strong positive influence on our foundation and early progress,” said Isaac Madan, CEO of Chalky. “We learned aggressively during the program via a diverse set of mentors and fellow founders.”

When companies enter The Brandery each year, many dream of some day being acquired. It’s exciting to see our graduates reach that inflection point, and we’re anxiously anticipating the next big thing these founders will do. Congratulations to the RentShare and Chalky teams!

Startups in the Class of 2015 to Have New Housing Option

Picture this: You’re a three-person team of entrepreneurs with the next big idea, from, let’s say, San Francisco or NYC or Vancouver. You just got accepted to The Brandery and need to move to Cincinnati within three weeks for the kickoff of the program. You’re spending 18+ hours a day working on your startup. Housing in a new city is the last thing you have time to worry about.

We’re constantly asking ourselves (and our alums), “What can we do to make our entrepreneurs’ lives a little easier?” Year after year, finding affordable housing, close to the office, with a landlord who’s willing to negotiate a short-term lease is a major pain point. What if you could just check a box and know you’re getting the best deal in the best neighborhood?

We’re thrilled to be working with Urban Sites to bring affordable startup housing to our neighborhood in downtown Cincinnati, Over-the-Rhine. For those who live in town, we know the renaissance of the neighborhood is one of the most incredible success stories in the city. The way the few blocks around our office have exploded with restaurants, bars, businesses, and startup offices in the past few years has been inspiring. However, living in the “trendy” neighborhood sometimes comes with trendy prices. Instead of more entrepreneurs moving into the neighborhood where the entrepreneurial spirit is so perfectly represented, more were moving away. If we want this area to become the startup hub we know it can be, we need founders living in it. Rent prices will be slightly subsidized, making them affordable for entrepreneurs’ budgets.

Here’s what’s within proximity of our new startup house:

  • The Brandery – 3 blocks
  • Frameri (2013 graduate) HQ – 3 blocks
  • Sqrl (2013 graduate) HQ – 4 blocks
  • The new Cincinnati startup hub, which will eventually house The Brandery, Cintrifuse, and CincyTech – 2 blocks
  • Roadtrippers (2011 graduate) HQ – 6 blocks
  • Modulus (2012 graduate) HQ – 7 blocks
  • Choremonster (2012 graduate) HQ – 6 blocks
  • Dozens and dozens of incredible, award-winning restaurants and bars, an urban market, concert venues, breweries, and a huge portion of the creative class living and working within 10 blocks

The building will be ready for move-in on June 1, just in time for our 6th accelerator class. Read more about the initiative in the Business Courier.

Procter & Gamble To Offer Up To Two Fellowships to Brandery Companies in 2015

As an expansion of P&G’s continued support of the Cincinnati startup ecosystem, two fellowships will be offered to Brandery companies in the 2015 accelerator cohort. As with our other fellowships, any startup that applies will be considered for the fellowship. Here are the benefits:

1. Direct access to P&G mentors & experts who will help the startup better prepare for solution driven engagements with potential large customers.

2. Active connections with P&G brand teams and executives to inform solution design and go-to-market strategy.

3. Pre-commitment to a paid in-market pilot with a P&G brand as part of The Brandery experience.

4. Opportunities to engage with global senior executives on business strategy.

Specifically for this fellowship, The Brandery and P&G are looking for startups that excel in one of three core areas: Connected Products and Platforms, Seamless Brand Building & Commerce, or Big Data & Analytics. You can read more about these three categories here.

“We’re thrilled about Procter & Gamble’s continued support of The Brandery and our startups. If you’re a startup looking to sell to marketers or work with CPG companies, there is not going to be a better opportunity to change the trajectory of your business.”

–Dave Knox, Co-founder, The Brandery

Procter & Gamble has been an active supporter of The Brandery, including hosting startup pitch events at P&G for brand tech companies, participating in Brand Fusion, helping lead workshops (like Growth Hack Day) and mentoring startups.

P&G’s fellowship offering is going to directly impact startups in our accelerator program, adding even more fuel to the fire for #StartupCincy.

The final deadline to apply to The Brandery is April 16. Apply now.

Beautiful Design, Advanced Tech, Fantastic Delivery: Hack OTR is in the books!

7 teams of hackers, designers, and marketers came together for 24 hours over the weekend our very first hackathon, HackOTR. The participants sat in on talks with startup founders, pitched their concepts, hacked the night away, and then presented their final products at the end of the 24 hours. The winners were:

- Sideline, winner of 2014 Brandery graduate Strap’s “side hack” for Best Use of Strap. Sideline is a wearable app that helps referees and fans keep track of sporting events in real time. The team won brand new Pebble smart watches and Strap t-shirts.

- Pet Plates, winner of Petbrosia “side hack” for Best App for Pet Parents. Pet Plates is a site for pet parents to submit their best pet food recipes— think AllRecipes for pet owners. The team won a $250 cash prize, Petbrosia t-shirts, and Petbrosia pet food trials for up to 10 people.

- Informed, a site to aggregate different types of media recommendations from people that know you, and Staq, a mobile app that helps you manage and pay off all of your credit cards in one place. The founders of Frameri were so inspired by the talent on these teams that they decided to do an impromptu prize: glasses or sunglasses for each member of the teams ($200 value each).

- Habitable, winner of “Overall Best Hack,” sponsored by Cincinnati Bell and Cintrifuse. Habitable is a website and app that helps millennials find the best job for them based on cultural inputs such as dress code, work styles, and relationships among employees. They won new Dell laptops and 3 months of office space in Cintrifuse.

“I had a great time judging HackOTR. There was a very impressive level of quality of the hacks across the board. Habitable won because they had a consistent level of quality all around— ideation was good, their pitch was good, and execution was good. They had a great UX.”

- Connor Bowlan, CEO of Cintric

Other sponsors included Brandery graduates Roadtrippers, Venn, and Modulus, as well as overwhelming community support from Chick-fil-A, Red Bull, Daisy Mae’s Market, KIND, Holtman’s Donuts, Happy Belly, Coffee Emporium, 3CDC, Fusian, Insomnia Cookies, and FastSigns. These are the kinds of things that are fueling the Cincinnati startup ecosystem, and we couldn’t be prouder to be involved.

We had such a blast this weekend that we’ve already set a date for the next HackOTR: August 7 and 8, 2015. Save the date and keep checking hackotr.com for updates.

InnovateHER is Coming to #StartupCincy

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We’re excited to announce our partnership with UpTech, Covington, Kentucky’s startup accelerator, to bring the Small Business Administration’s InnovateHER competition to the Cincinnati startup ecosystem!

InnovateHER is a pitch competition and business challenge that focuses on companies that primarily benefit women and families. If this competition is anything like others we’ve been to in town, these entrepreneurs will not disappoint. One startup will be chosen as Cincinnati’s nominee for the finals, in which 10 companies from around the country will pitch in Washington, D.C.

If you’re interested in pitching, we need your application by March 5th at 11:59 pm. You can read all the details about what is required as an applicant on the SBA’s website.

If you’re interested in attending, make sure you get your ticket as soon as possible. We have a feeling it’s going to be a great night!

Stay tuned to Twitter and the event page for announcements on who our awesome panel of judges will include and who has been chosen to pitch at the event. All the information you need and the application are on Eventbrite.

Introducing HackOTR!

You know who’s awesome? Our interns are awesome. You know what’s even more awesome? Our past interns teaming up with our new intern to plan a hackathon at The Brandery.

Michael, Brian, and Ian, our interns from fall 2014, are spearheading a 24-hour hackathon at The Brandery from March 6 at 5 pm to March 7 at 5 pm.

HackOTR is an inclusive community hackathon. We’re looking for excited individuals who want to contribute their skills in design, programming, product development, and marketing to solve problems and have fun. Anyone is welcome to register! You do not need to be a programmer, be in a startup, or have previous experience with hackathons.

Prizes will be offered to teams with the best hacks at the end of the hackathon. Hacks will be judged on the following criteria: creativity, usefulness, usability, and delivery. HackOTR will feature judges from The Brandery’s network of experienced mentors and experts, as well as from our sponsors. The mentors offer significant experience with startup ventures, product development, and technology.

For inquiries about sponsorship, please send a message to our Brandterns.

Register for the hackathon here.

How To Stand Out When Applying To The Brandery

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[Editor’s Note: This post is by co-founder of The Brandery, Dave Knox. Dave, along with the rest of The Brandery team, will be reviewing applications for the next few months as we recruit startups for the Class of 2015. By day, Dave is the CMO of Rockfish. Read more of Dave’s blog posts and thought leadership here.]

Did you know that getting into a top tier startup accelerator is actually statistically more difficult than getting into Harvard? For its Class of 2018, Harvard accepted around 5.9% of their 34,000 applicants. In 2014, The Brandery accepted half that percentage with <2.5% of applicants being offered a spot in the program (a number we consistently see with other top-ranked peer programs).

So what should a founder do in order to get their application to stick out? After reviewing thousands of applications over our five previous classes, here are a few best practices I have seen work to help your startup stand out from the crowd. None of these are hard and fast rules, but more what I personally look at when I am reviewing our applications.

1. Become a known entity

If there were only thing that a startup could do when applying to The Brandery, this would be it. It amazes me how many startups apply for The Brandery but do not do any personal outreach. It is pretty easy to find out the decision makers behind our program. All of the founders and staff are listed on the website. All of us are very open about our contact info with emails and Twitter. And we hold a ton of events during application season where you can meet Brandery staff, alumni, and mentors in person. Yet despite this, an amazingly low number of applicants take any steps to reach out beyond their written applications. One of the keys to standing out is to have champions that believe in your team and your company. You can increase your odds of finding those champions by putting in the extra effort to meet the people behind the selection process.

2. Get a personal introduction / endorsement

Speaking of finding champions, one of the best ways to stand out from the crowd is with a warm introduction from someone in the Brandery network. We have an amazing group of mentors, investors, and alumni that are part of The Brandery family. If I get an email introduction from any of them telling me that “so and so startup is applying for The Brandery and they are awesome”, then I put that application on the top of my list. For instance, we had one application a few years ago that had a so-so initial product. But right before they applied, I received an email from an investor I trusted who said the startup had “one of the best mobile product teams” they had ever seen. Needless to say, that type of endorsement changed how I viewed the application right off the bat.

3. Do not be a “Me Too” Startup

Every year, The Brandery receives around two dozen applications that are best classified as “Me Too” Startups. The common theme of these companies is that they are a small twist on whatever the hot startup happened to be that year. When Groupon was gearing up for an IPO in 2011, we had an influx of companies with takes on the Daily Deal space. When Instagram was bought in 2012, our application inbox was flooded with photo startups. The shame with these applications is that I often don’t spend the time digging into the team because I’ve already dismissed the potential of the idea right off the bat.

4. Prove your hustle instead of telling us about it

Every startup talks about having the perfect “Hacker, Hustler, and Designer”. But it is interesting how often The Hustler actually doesn’t show their hustle. If you want to see hustle, talk to Michael Wohlschlaeger, CEO & Co-Founder of Ahalogy. When Michael applied to The Brandery, he and his wife were living in China. That year, The Brandery was having a “get to know us” happy hour during applications at a local bar in Cincinnati. Michael showed up at the event, where we learned that he flew from China to St. Louis (where his family was from) and then drove six hours from St. Louis to Cincinnati— just for the happy hour. That is the definition of hustle. I knew at that moment I would place a bet on Michael as an entrepreneur no matter what. Since Ahalogy has been ranked the fastest growing startup in Ohio the past two years, I think Michael has lived up to that reputation for hustle.

5. Apply early

Do not wait to the last minute to apply. Yes, the final deadline to apply is April 16th, but don’t make the mistake of waiting that long. All of us are reading applications as they come in, and I personally have a ranking of my top 10 applicants that is evolving in real-time. If your company has applied early, that has given me a longer time to learn about you, the company, and your team. I have been able to research the space you are playing in and talked with other investors about the opportunity. If you apply at the last minute, you are “forcing” me to make a quick decision about whether you should be a company we interview and accept.

All that being said, applications to the Class of 2015 are open now. The deadline is April 16.

The Brandery's New Accelerator "Deal": $50,000 Per Company

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This summer, the sixth cohort of companies will be joining us at The Brandery. What an amazing first five years we have had (note: information on our five year anniversary celebration will be forthcoming – you need to be there)! Five years later, we remain more focused than ever on our mission of accelerating startups by building powerful brands. Our core approach of layering inspiring brands on top of dazzling technology and driven founders has proven to be a recipe for success. Like the beef Bolognese recipe of your great-grandmother, we are less than enthusiastic to make adjustments to the formula.

But, who are we kidding? We’re an accelerator — evolution and retooling shouldn’t be limited to our portfolio companies. Excellence can be found in rational and thoughtful change. As such, in 2015 we will be announcing some core changes to our accelerator program that will provide our participant companies with an even stronger platform to grow.

We are excited to announce our sixth cohort of companies will receive a total of $50,000 of capital from The Brandery. This will be split into two tranches: (1) $25,000 in for a six (6) percent warrant upon beginning the program, and (2) another $25,000 through an uncapped convertible debt note to each company that completes the sixth week of our accelerator program.

Some accelerators offer more cash than The Brandery and some offer less, but after having 45 startups go through our accelerator, we believe $50,000 is the right amount. We have always had two juxtaposing beliefs about the capital that we provide companies: first, our companies need enough capital to focus solely on building a great company, and second, The Brandery funding should not provide such a substantial runway that the startup loses its sense of urgency. We believe $50,000 will accelerate our startups to the next step, whether that’s raising a round, bootstrapping with revenue, or moving onto the next thing.

The Brandery has always felt strongly that the “deal” needs to be explicit at the outset. Some accelerators offer more capital but hinge the capital on different performance metrics or, in some cases, the discretion of the accelerator’s investment team. We think this is unfair to the startups because it does not provide them with the ability to plan their burn and so that there is not an investment decision that adversely impacts the relationship between the accelerator and its participating founders. As such, the second tranche of $25,000 will be invested purely on the temporal requirement of each company making it through six weeks of our program.

And that’s not all! We’ll have more big news to break in the next week or two. We can’t wait to share.

If you’re interested in learning more about The Brandery Accelerator, go to brandery.org/accelerator, or apply now.