Tags

Archives

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

Dsc_0035

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.

Guest Post: Stop Building Features

Gimqz4xldoe_9ow483wsnkzhd9yexbsh6rhi6dere64,ntnvn3sbw09ik8l1gupqtvd7d3jossovxc5b3pzoq8i,jdjoh39doq4mydlgdp5eooqznkdzvnwiwoooesz73q8

[Editor’s Note: This post was written by 2014 graduate Connor Bowlan. Connor and his co-founder, Rhett, originally were accepted to The Brandery with their fashion and beauty advice app, Lookit. Throughout the course of the program, their startup evolved to what is now: Cintric, a joint venture between Connor’s company and another startup in the program. You can read more about their journey through The Brandery in this recent Soapbox article.]

Features are one of the worst things a startup can build into an early-stage product.

Features distract the company. Startups find success in innovative solutions to big problems. These solutions form the core of products, and are where the customer finds value they’re willing to pay for. At an early stage, startups should be focusing all their efforts on finding the best version of their solution by iterating on their core product. Feature development distracts from this task.




In one of the earliest versions of our application “Lookit,” we had a little robot character that guided the user through the signup process. The robot even had animations that would progress with each letter the user typed for their name and password. Was it neat? Definitely. Is animating the registration fields spending time improving the core product? Definitely not.

Features distract the product.

When creating a product that’s new, one of the biggest challenges is crystallizing exactly what it is. This applies in both the minds of the team and the end users. The simpler the product, the easier it is to understand what it’s purpose is and how to best achieve it. Features add complexity, and complexity distracts from the core purpose of a product.




In a later build of “Lookit,” we experimented with gamifying the platform. We built a series of “trinkets” that users could win by contributing to the community and gambling in a slot-machine feature. Session time skyrocketed to an average of 14 minutes, but we weren’t solving the problem we had set out to. It drew users away from the core of the product, and away from where we were able to give the most value.

Features distract the user.

When you’re building something new, the end user will have to learn how to use your product. Adding features means the user has more learning to do before being able to draw value from the product and use it effectively.

In the second build of our application “Quack,” we tried to solve one of our user-experience problems by adding another feature. This feature did away with one of the core rules of our product in order to get around a relatively small issue. In doing so we completely confused the user by introducing a competing ruleset, and made them go through another permissions process, all to implement a feature that ended up not being enjoyable for them to use.

Features are often wasted.

Startups frequently change their core products in significant ways as development progresses. When the product changes, features that have been developed often don’t have a place anymore and must be scrapped.




There is a fully complete card-based version of “Lookit” sitting on a bitbucket server somewhere that will probably never see the light of day. It has voting, a gorgeous UI, face-detection, and quite a few more features. Ultimately though, none of those matter. They’re great bits of design and coding that had to be thrown out because the core product they were built on wasn’t strong enough.

Once a product has matured enough to where it’s solving a user’s problem in the most efficient way possible, then features can be introduced to make that process enjoyable for the user to engage with. This must be done slowly though, so as not to confuse or overwhelm the user.

This is where the CPO role really shines, as their job is not just to guide what the product is, but also to guide what the product isn’t.

Building a product without features can be difficult. In the early phase of a startup, it can be challenging to avoid getting carried away in an environment where the product roadmap is set in something more akin to clay than concrete. This is where the CPO role really shines, as their job is not just to guide what the product is, but also to guide what the product isn’t. A good CPO will aggressively maintain development focus on the core of the product, even when features might be exciting or easy to complete.

-

At Cintric, we help developers build efficient mobile location services into their apps, from early stage startups that want to use location as a basis for their core experience, to large enterprises that wish to add location features to their existing and established apps. Cintric can be used to integrate rich location components that add a tremendous amount of value to the core of a product. Even including customizing experiences via demographic information and precise analytics of where users engage with different parts of the app.

If you’d like to chat about how Cintric can improve your mobile app with efficient and easy to setup location services, or you’d like to simply tell me why I’m wrong about features, contact me at connor@cintric.com.

Brandery Graduates Dominate Forbes' 30 Under 30 Lists

Yesterday, Forbes released their lists of the top 30 game-changers in each industry for 2015. The lists include the co-founder of Instagram, the President of Y Combinator, and, oh, and eight Brandery graduates. They represent four companies, three of which are still operating. Here are our people Forbes chose:

1. Eric Elias, William Weibe, William Blum, and Nathan Heidt, Lagoon, Class of 2014

Eric and the Lagoon team are on a mission to empower households and cities to control water usage. In addition to The Brandery, the Lagoon team was also accepted to a hardware accelerator, Highway1, where they developed their product, nailed down about manufacturing, and learned about distribution. Lagoon also won SXSW Eco’s Startup Showcase in the Clean Web category. You can watch Eric pitch SXSW here.

2. Jay Finch, Class of 2012

Jay came through The Brandery back in 2012. He’s moved on from his venture at the time, but his legacy lives on! He’s now the Senior Advisor of Domestic Finance for the U.S. Treasury. Jay runs the MyRA program at the Treasury Department, which offers government alternative independent retirement plans. Before his life on The Hill and at The Brandery, Jay worked at Goldman Sachs where he started two business units, each with $2.5 billion in assets under management.

3. Konrad Billetz, Frameri, Class of 2013

We met Konrad fresh out of Notre Dame’s MBA program in 2013 as he and his team were beginning to develop the first interchangable eyewear company. Now, Frameri is headquartered right down the street from our office and continues to receive accolades from major publications as they scale. Earlier this year, Konrad won Steve Case’s Rise of the Rest pitch competition in Cincinnati.

4. Rujul Zaparde and Kevin Petrovic, FlightCar, Class of 2012

Earlier this year, Rujul and Kevin took the title of youngest entrepreneurs to ever raise $20 million, so we’re not surprised to see their names on the list. They interviewed at The Brandery the day after their high school graduation and never looked back. We can’t wait to see what cities FlightCar will land in next!

Also on the list were Brandery mentor Adam D’Augelli (True Ventures) and speaker Mattan Griffel (One Month), who presented to the Class of 2014 on Growth Hacking. We’re honored to have been surrounded by such great talent across the board!

Congratulations to all the 30 Under 30 winners. Keep doing work!