Company Highlights: Casamatic and Jersey Watch

We love our Class of 2015, and we think you would love them too. As stated in the companies’ description article, we’re going to be posting an article a week focusing on two of our startups at a time, letting the founders speak a few words of their own on behalf of their company. Each post will focus on the founders’ companies, their move to Cincinnati, and how The Brandery has impacted their progress and business.

This week we sit down with the founders of Casamatic and Jersey Watch; both already have active versions of their product available online but are moving well to create an even better product by Demo Day in October. Take a look at some of their responses below and see how joining The Brandery has helped them grow so far.

Who’s on your team and how did you find each other?


Alex Bowman – CEO – Cincinnati, OH

Chris Ridenour – CTO – Cincinnati, OH

John Back – Lead Engineer – Cincinnati, OH

Alex: After I moved back to Cincinnati, I reached out to Chris to join the organizing team of Startup Weekend Cincinnati. As an avid follower during my time in Seattle, I knew I wanted to help make it happen here in Cincinnati—we’ve been buddies since then. We also brought AngelHack to Cincinnati and started a monthly startup meet-up in town with The Brandery’s marketing manager, Emily Cooper. We <3 #StartupCincy.

Chris and John met at Rockfish Interactive, a digital agency in Cincinnati, and they’ve been friends since (literally) day one. Fun fact: John officiated Chris’s wedding this year.

Jersey Watch

David Carter – Co-founder – Athens, OH

Tim Gusweiler – Co-founder – Cincinnati, OH

David: Tim and I were student-athletes at Ohio University (me- football, Tim- golf) and connected while studying in Ohio University’s prestigious dual MBA/MSA (Masters of Sports Administration) program. We were interested in the underserved and disorganized world of youth and high school sports and have worked together for over two years. Collectively we have built a team culture that blends aggressive tactics with disciplined execution, and a relentless focus on activities that matter. We care about sports, living balanced lives and providing remarkable service to our customers.

What is your company?


Alex: Casamatic matches buyers to their perfect home by learning about the people and activities they love. We’ve curated home listings—no giant maps, no huge lists of homes—we only show you your perfect homes.

Did you know that Zillow and other home search sites are selling page views to real estate agents? They’re basically being rewarded for making you browse a zillion homes. And Zillow’s only search filters are lot size, square footage, price range, and number of bedrooms and bathrooms. Those aren’t the only things that people care about when buying a home… in fact, they barely scratch the surface!

Chris: By demo day, we’ll be launched in a handful of cities (just Cincinnati right now) with an awesome new design from our agency friends at Landor.

Jersey Watch

David: Jersey Watch makes it easy to organize and empower youth sports with free, made-to-order websites and online tools. Youth sports organizations want a simple, low-cost solution that includes real service. We deliver on this, and have a particular strength with:

  • Strong Product/Market Fit – Competitive groups over-deliver on features and price-points
  • No cost– Jersey Watch is free through our sponsors. This is not seen in the market.
  • Commitment to Service – We on-board clients faster and service them better than the competition.

By the end of September we hope to have finalized our scaling model and national rollout strategy. We expect to have a variety of new features on our product, and have successfully tested a handful of new tactics to acquire and onboard customers faster. Finally, this fall we aim to begin expanding our team significantly, and hope that recruiting efforts are well on their way come September.

What attracted you to apply to The Brandery?


Alex: Since we’re from Cincinnati, we’ve worked with and are friends with many other founders that have gone through The Brandery, so we knew first-hand how awesome it was and what it meant for Casamatic. It was an easy decision for us to make.

Jersey Watch

David: We always knew we were going to stay near Cincinnati, and it just worked out perfectly that The Brandery was only a few blocks away from the heart of downtown.

What’s been the best part?


Alex: Getting paired up with our new friends & agency partner Landor has been amazing. It’s crazy that we’re working with the same agency that creates brands that permeate our households—and it’s incredibly humbling!

We love the day-to-day interactions with Tony Alexander too—a seasoned entrepreneur-turned-angel investor who’s been through this before. His regular advice has been incredibly impactful. Our mentors are amazing too.

John: On top of all that, the gigabit internet is definitely a plus.

Jersey Watch

David: The variety and quality of the Brandery mentors and Cincinnati startup ecosystem has been tremendous. Our mentors have been incredibly supportive and inspiring to push the boundaries on our vision.

Work aside, what’s your favorite thing to do in Cincinnati?


Alex: Eat food and drink beer. We’re currently exploring Northside, one of the amazing neighborhoods in Cincinnati. We’re going to Urban Artifact, a new brewery in Northside that specializes in sour beers, this weekend, and probably hitting up another one of Northside’s amazing taco joints!

John: Riding the tidal wave of excitement, influence, and change that is going through Cincinnati/Over-the-Rhine right now is a real source of pride for me.

Jersey Watch

David: The city has been a great experience for us, but we especially have enjoyed visiting all the local restaurants around OTR.

Whether you’re looking for a new perfect home to move into or managing your own youth sports team, these guys easily have you covered. We chose these startups for our program based on both their idea and their team’s ability to deliver that idea— so far, so good.

Curious about their products? Take a look through their websites (Casamatic, Jersey Watch) to get a glimpse at what they’ve created so far. Let others know how awesome these companies are by sharing below, and subscribe to our email list to see the next set of company one-on-ones coming soon!

Photos by Zackariah Cole Photography

HackOTR is Coming


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!