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Guest Post: Why Brands Need To Pay Attention To Wearables

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[Editor’s Note: This post, by COO of 2014 Brandery graduate Strap, Patrick Henshaw, originally appeared on Strap’s blog on September 22, 2014.]

With over 10 million wearable devices sold in 2014 alone, should brands start paying more attention to the wearables space?

Based on a recent Forrester report, 25% of American adults plan on buying a wearable within the next year. If Forrester’s data holds true, that would be an estimated 79 million wearables sold within the next year. To put that in perspective, only 64 million smartphones were sold in 2006. This was a year shy of the first iPhone Apple produced and sold beginning June 29th, 2007. (For a cool side story take a look at Time’s interactive timeline of the iPhone.)

We all know that Apple changed the smartphone landscape from being something clunky and difficult to use into something that a 3-year-old can pick up— and find out how to watch Barney on. Will the same hold true for the wearable industry? Will Apple maintain their ability to lead thought and change in the wearable market as they have for years now in the mobile space?

Insiders report that Apple is readying supplies to sell 50 million Apple Watches in 2015. According to another report, Bank of America and Merril Lynch predict Apple will sell 20 million watches. Personally, I think Apple Watch sales are going to be closer to the 10 million unit mark. If Forrester is correct and 25% of the 300 million iPhones users on the market today were to purchase the Apple Watch, they would sell 75 million of these wearables in 2015. Now my prediction that Apple sells 10 million Apple Watches in 2015 doesn’t seem like too daunting of a task.

Inevitably, wearable technology will provide brands an unseen ability to provide content that is of value to their potential (or current) customer.

So why do brands care about this? Or should they? While there has been no clear leader or front runner as a singular wearable device, marketers and brands should still start paying attention to these devices. Inevitably, wearable technology will provide brands an unseen ability to provide content that is of value to their potential (or current) customer. The Content Marketing Association even put out an article with four key opportunities for content marketers to really show true value to their intended consumers. The short version of the article portrays these points: 1) Changing methods of reading, 2) Re-inventing push notifications, 3) Augmented reality, and 4) More content and data creation.

There are a few challenges for marketers who want to start using this new medium for content: adoption, value, and privacy. Providing value is a must in marketing today. Long gone are the days of the one-sided consumer-to-brand relationship. Brands must provide value— and provide it continually— to gain traction and maintain customers while trying to minimize churn. At the forefront, though, privacy will still remain. It is going to be key for the players in the industry to have privacy at the utmost of importance – this will also, in turn, drive adoption.

The Bottom Line

Brands need to pay attention to wearables— because their customers are. If brands and marketers truly want to understand their customers, where to reach them, and how to provide better value to the content they are providing, then wearables and wearable trends are something that need to be at the forefront of their thoughts and decisions.

Read more of Patrick and the rest of the Strap team’s thought leadership on their blog.

The Startup Food Pyramid

[Editor’s Note: In the final days of his internship, our Marketing Brandtern, Brian Back, crafted the startup food pyramid based on his observations of the startups over the past few months. We, by no means, endorse this diet. Simply put, don’t try this at home.]

As you may or may not know, the USDA did away with the traditional food pyramid a few years ago, which we had all come to know and love as our visual representation of proper dietary guidelines. It has now been replaced by a colorful icon called “My Plate” which is split into several nutritional sections and formatted on a dinner plate. Unfortunately for USDA officials, “My Plate” is not something that startups can relate to. The main reason being that those who work for startups don’t eat on plates. They are more likely to be eating out of a styrofoam container, on top of a keyboard, or hovered over a garbage can, praying that none of their prized burrito falls out of the tortilla and into a trash­-filled abyss.

To solve this disconnect between startups and dietary guidelines, a new “Startup Food Pyramid” was created. This food pyramid was based off observations of startups at The Brandery and the food which they consumed the most of and held in the highest regard. The Startup Food Pyramid is not recommended for anyone other than those who work at startups, or have a seriously flawed view on what the standard of one’s personal health should be.

Base Level

Pizza, Craft Beer, Coffee, Indian Food, Anything That Is Free

This is the lifeblood of startups. Without this food, they would wither away with nothing left but a plaid shirt, tight-­fitting jeans and some Chukka boots. The pizza doesn’t have to be great, the Indian food can be ‘okay’ (especially when the buffet happens to be unlimited), but if you dare present these startups with anything other than a hand-crafted cold one, you better strap yourself in for a judgement-filled ride of shame. With the exception of beer, the fundamental rule for startups around The Brandery is that if the food is free, you devour it, because who knows when you’ll scrape together enough money for your next meal.

Second Level­

Doritos, Gummy Bears, Flamin Hot Cheetos, Goldfish, Donuts

Have you ever been to a farm and watched the cows graze on the grass all day long? The items on the second level are the grass, and the cows are the people who work at startups. This food can not be on the first level because it does not provide enough sustenance for even scraggliest of startups to survive. Do not be mistaken, this food serves a very important purpose! The items on this level give quick bursts of energy throughout the day for those struggling to stay awake. These are also great items to have around for those who like to “stress eat.” Tensions can be high at times around The Brandery and nothing takes the edge off quite like eating an entire family­-sized box of Goldfish over the course of fifteen minutes.

Third Level­

Fruit, Vegetables

Simply put, these are not of the highest priority. It’s not that startups don’t like fruits and vegetables, they just don’t give the same bang for your buck as some of the other food in the pyramid. Maybe once and a while you’ll have an apple, possibly a salad, but to have something green with every meal is out of the question.

Top­

Anything over 7 dollars

Startups consume the food in this section sparingly. If the food they’re eating is this expensive, they better be out getting lunch with an investor. Seven dollars is too much for a meal when that same money could be used to feed a team of developers for a week.

Coolest Place To Shop This Holiday: The Cincy Startup Store

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If you’re still looking (like me) for the perfect gifts for your friends and family who have everything, look no further. We couldn’t be more excited for the very first Cincy Startup Store, coming to our neighborhood in just a couple weekends. Not only is this is a phenomenal excuse to visit Simple Space, but check out the Cincinnati startups you’ll be able to support when you shop:

  • Kapture – audio-recording wristbands
  • PlusBlue – custom-engraved, mobile battery packs
  • Frameri – glasses with interchangeable frames and lenses – 2013 graduate of The Brandery

Visit the Cincy Startup Store Facebook event for more details. Hope to see you there!

Guest Post: 8 Similarities Between Rock Bands and Startups

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[Editor’s Note: This post is part of a new blog series in which our graduates and partners share their perspectives on startups. Thanks to Eron Bucciarelli-Tieger, CEO and co-founder of MusicPlay Analytics, for this post. Prior to founding MusicPlay Analytics, Eron was the drummer of the platinum-selling rock band, Hawthorne Heights. Follow Eron on Twitter.]

There are dozens of startup analogies out there. It’s human nature to relate new stuff to old stuff. While I, like everyone else, know sports, I won’t fall into that cliche. It just so happens that the “stuff” I know most is music. Prior to founding the company I now run, I was a professional musician for ten years, so it’s only natural for me to view startup “stuff” through the lens of a musician. Since everyone likes their stuff presented in list form, I now present to you, “8 Similarities Between Bands and Startups”:

1 – Team Matters

People come together to form bands because they share a collective musical vision. With startups, it’s not much different. Instead of musical passion, it’s product vision. Regardless of the reason and situation, not having the right group of people can have dire consequences early on. Before record deals and funding can happen, everyone needs to pull their weight with little immediate reward. Not having the right people prevents you from creating a good product (or song). More importantly, not having committed people will lead to everything falling apart the second disaster strikes; your van breaks down in the middle of a poorly attended tour or your app doesn’t get accepted to the app store. Everyone has to wear multiple hats early on. You might be the singer, but you’re also the booking agent. You might be the CEO, but you’re also the head of marketing and HR. It’s all about talent and work ethic. If ever those two aren’t balanced properly, the band or company will fail.

2 – Starving Artist/Starving Entrepreneur

Seriously, what’s the difference? When you’re starting off, it doesn’t make a difference whether you’re writing a song or writing code – you’re not making any money (or very little). What matters is you’re chasing some sort of dream, and not eating regularly is simply a casualty of that pursuit. The best art comes out of a place of hardship. It’s only when you’re down and out that you really push yourself. Ever wonder how a band’s first album can be so good and their latest be such crap? Struggle = genius. Comfort = garbage. It’s only the truly gifted songwriters and businesses that are able to replicate this inspiration or find other inspiration with equal passion that end up having repeatable success.

3 – It’s All Legos

Writing a song or coming up with a business idea follow the same creative thought process as playing with those amazing plastic blocks as a kid. Both begin with an idea, it gets fleshed out and eventually released upon the world. Business planning can easily be substituted for jamming, hacking/iterating for recording and launching for distribution. Those are all different terms for the same process. A rose by any other name…

4 – Content Is King

A product is a product, (whether it’s a song or an app). That’s not a Dr Seuss limerick. As the creator of a song or a business, you get to dictate the terms under which your product goes to market. It’s only the ratio between desperation and buzz that leads to companies and bands getting good/bad deals (assuming the product is great). Labels and VC wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for you. It’s hard to invest in nothing and make money on it. Remember that.

5 – Pour Some… Money On Me

Startups need money to grow. Musicians need money to promote themselves. There are always a few exceptions in both worlds, but “Bootstrapping" and “Doing-It-Yourself” are synonyms and can only get you so far. At some point, you need money from an investor to take things to the next level (whatever that may be).

6 – All That Glitters Is (Not) Gold

Most startups fail, most bands fail. When I started my musical journey, only 1% of all CDs released sold more than 1,000 copies (in a year). Of that 1%, only a small handful were fortunate to sell 500,000+ copies (a measure of success at that time). These are somewhat antiquated metrics for success in today’s music environment, but the percentages closely mirror the percentage of companies receiving VC. In reality, securing funding doesn’t equal success, but not having funding most often leads to failure.

7 – Investment Does NOT Equal Success

Getting a record deal doesn’t guarantee sold out arena tours in your future. Likewise, VC doesn’t guarantee you’ll be the next Über or Facebook. Funding simply opens up new opportunities. It’s up to you to walk through those doors as they open. No one is giving out piggyback rides.

And lastly…

8 – Personnel

  • CEO is the lead singer (generally). They are the visionary, the creative director, and responsible for the company’s culture or the band’s gimmick. Sometimes, they’re just the public face.
  • CTO/CPO is the lead guitarist or songwriter. Without a good product, a company is going to fail. Without good songs, a band will fail.
  • COO is the drummer. Drummers and COOs are usually the ones holding things together (okay, I’m biased). 9 times out of 10, the drummer is the “business guy” in the band. They do all the work and get none of the credit.
  • The head of logistics/supply chain is the bassist. You never notice when everything is going alright, but when the bass player drops, out everyone panics. You don’t think about the ability to ship your product to market, but if that channel is severed you’ll freak out.
  • CMO is the rhythm guitarist. They’re great to have but they’re not always necessary when you’re starting up.

If you want to check out Eron’s company, go to musicplayanalytics.com. If you want to check out Eron’s biggest hit, Ohio Is For Lovers, download here.

2014 Graduate Strap Raises $1.25 Million

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Fresh out of The Brandery Class of 2014, wearable analytics startup Strap has raised $1.25 million. Investors include CincyTech, Hyde Park Venture Partners, Mercury Fund, New Coast Ventures, and angel investors. Among the angel investments include Charlie Key and Brandon Cannaday, founders of 2012 Brandery graduate Modulus, which was acquired by Progress Software earlier this year. We couldn’t be more proud to see Brandery companies supporting each other right here in Cincinnati.

Founders of Strap, Steve Caldwell and Patrick Henshaw, have permanently relocated to Cincinnati from Mississippi to grow their team and build their business (did we mention they’re hiring?).

Read more about the deal in the Cincinnati Enquirer.