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Interns, What Have They Been Up To?

Founders101

Happy Monday Everyone!

Today the Brandery Interns are taking over the blog to tell you what we’ve accomplished and what we’re up to. It’s officially been one month since the start of our internship and we have all had the opportunity to work with the Brandery team and get acclimated to our new surroundings. By the way OTR, you have been fabulous, thanks for all the food options!

Back to the interns! Camryn, the design intern, has worked diligently to create our agency playbook, infographic and company teasers for the class of 2016. Our tech intern, who just returned from vacation, Jacob has worked on compressing files to create an efficient library of information and updating our website. The two marketing and operations interns, Ravneet and Curtis, have also had their fair share of projects to handle. Both of us have been juggling various social media platforms, as well as getting the Brandery started on a new, not so well-known platform called Snapchat. So if by chance you do have Snapchat, follow us by searching “brandery”! Curt has also spent his time working on compiling a company portfolio of companies that have graduated from the Brandery. I, on the other hand, have spent most of my time preparing for the incoming class. I’ve helped with preparing our welcome gift baskets, organizing the welcome picnic and compiling summaries of founders for a press release.

As our first month of interning comes to an end, it is only the beginning for our startups. The addition of 10 new companies and almost 40 new individuals has certainly changed the atmosphere and dynamics of the office. Every day we arrive with the excitement of getting a new project and seeing how our work, no matter how minimal, can help a company grow. Along with helping the companies, Curt and I also have the unique opportunity of helping the startup community grow, as well.

One of our objectives this summer is to increase the engagement of local students with the startup ecosystem. Curtis and I strongly believe that we have great talent in the surrounding areas, especially on the campuses located near us. We’re looking at you UC, Xavier, Miami and NKU! Therefore, we have organized an event called, Founders 101. This event will be arranged as an open panel between students and well established founders from the Cincinnati area. After the founders introduce themselves, their business and journey we will open the floor for questions and encourage an environment of discussion.

The first event will take place June 24th, from 10am to 11am, in Union Hall. The theme for this panel is, “Start of the Startup”. Founders Matthew Lenahan, CEO of DataRole, James Fisher, CEO of Roadtrippers and Steve Caldwell, CEO of Strap will be in attendance discussing the start of their respective companies. More information on the event and founders can be found on our Eventbrite page, the link is copied below. Seating is limited, so please reserve your free ticket!

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/founders-101-start-of-the-startup-tickets-25936332268?aff=eac2

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.

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.

Guest Post: Stop Building Features

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[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.

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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.

Resource Roundup: 11 ways to meet like-minded entrepreneurs in Cincinnati

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Wherever you are, we think you should surround yourself with people who will inspire you, push you, and advise you on building your business. In Cincinnati, there are so many ways to find people like you in the entrepreneurial scene.

Here are some of our favorite Meetups in the Cincinnati area:

1. Side Project Cincinnati
What: An initiative of Brandery graduate Roadtrippers, Side Project Cincinnati is your way to share your ideas, find collaborators, and fuel your creativity in a safe place. And beer… there is always beer. Read more about the Roadtrippers team’s side projects in Soapbox.
Next Meetup: November 11

2. Girl Develop It
What: It’s no secret tech skews male. GDI is aiming to tip back the scales by teaching women to code. Build sweet websites with awesome people. No questions are off-limits.
Next Meetup: Drinkup on October 1 for anyone interested in learning more, Intro to Web Concepts on October 8

3. User Enjoyment / UX Meetup
What: The User Enjoyment Meetup is for anyone who wants to make their users’ experience better. Our entrepreneurs love it as a place to get feedback on their products, but these UX enthusiasts discuss everything from usability testing to typography to lean development.

4. Startup Grind
What: Yeah, you got us. We’re the organizers of this one. But it’s just because we think it’s such a great initiative. There are over 125 cities in 55 countries with a Startup Grind chapter, and Cincinnati’s is growing each and every month. We bring in a prominent figure in the entrepreneurial ecosystem to talk about their highs and lows and tips for aspiring entrepreneurs as they go through “the grind.”
Next Meetup: The founders of The Launch Werks, Matt Anthony and Noel Gauthier, will talk about their experiences in the wonderful world of physical products on September 30.

5. QC Merge Drinkup
What: Discuss all things web and technology over a couple of drinks. These Meetups are a great place to network, too. We’ve had a couple of our companies find employees— and even co-founders— at these monthly gatherings.
Next Meetup: Drinkup on October 2 at Japp’s

6. Lean Startup Circle
What: This group focuses on the practices of The Lean Startup movement. If you’re an entrepreneur or wantrepreneur exploring new ways to launch, evolve, or grow your business, join the group.
Next Meetup: Traction Book: Skype interview with Justin Mares on October 9

And a few more specific ones, when you’re looking to expand your knowledge and skill set:

7. Smart Home Meetup

8. Search Engine Optimization Meetup

9. Wearable Developers Meetup

10. Node.js Meetup

11. Startup Finance & Accounting

BONUS (thanks, @joshowens!): Meteor Cincinnati Meetup

This post is part of a series in which we’re highlighting local resources for entrepreneurs. If there are any we miss or you wish existed, let us know!

Get REVVED!

Wanting to get involved in development and/or the Cincinnati startup scene? Looking for a quick way to develop new skills?

Well, you’re in luck.

The tech minds behind Brandery graduates Modulus and REPP are starting Revved – a series of classes that will teach new and seasoned developers the skills they need to move to the next level. With the support of Xavier University, Cintrifuse and The Brandery, Revved will help create top notch development talent here in Cincinnati.

Interested? The first course, Web Application Development, is scheduled for May 21 at Xavier University. Space is limited, so make sure to register ASAP: http://www.revved.co

We're Hiring!

Several of our Brandery graduates have experienced tremendous success and are hoping to expand their teams! See below for a list of available positions:

ROADTRIPPERS

Designer

Roadtrippers is seeking a motivated and creative graphic/interactive design intern with strong skills in layout and typography, and UI.

You will be:
• Producing layout for promotional materials.
• Sharing your eye — and talent for — typography, layout, and color.
• Creating design standards and style guides
• Improving uniformity across our products and the web.

You must have:
• A strong portfolio (if it’s not online or if it’s ‘coming soon’ it doesn’t exist)
• Adobe superpowers
• The ability to work fast (process only matters at school, here it’s about product)
• A laid back vibe, and a sense of humor (but still know what hard work looks like)

Extra points for:
• Front-end dev experience: HTML, CSS, jQuery

Interested? Email Chelsea Koglmeier (chelsea@roadtrippers.com) with your resume and a link to your portfolio.

Software Engineer / Web Developer

Roadtrippers is looking for a talented and passionate Software Engineer to help us build solutions to fragmentation problems in road travel planning. You will be developing key features of our web application.

You must have:
• Software development experience. And be very, very good at it.
• Have experience with Rails, JavaScript, Python, Java, PHP, Node or other scripting languages.
• Versatile in development skills across client, server and database admin
• A good sense of humor
• Not have a ‘stick up your arse’

We use:
Ruby on Rails; Backbone.js; jQuery; CoffeeScript/JavaScript; MongoDB; PostgreSQL; CSS (SASS/SCSS); Google Maps; Cloud Computing (Engine Yard, S3 etc); Mac OS X and Linux; Cucumber, RSpec and Jasmine testing frameworks; Agile, scrum methodology

Bonus points for knowing:
Test driven development, MapReduce and in depth MongoDB/NoSQL, Geo / mapping development and APIs, Ruby on Rails hosting setup and management, iOS / Mobile, Single page web app development, Being a challenging foosball player

Interested? Email Chelsea Koglmeier (chelsea@roadtrippers.com) with your resume and why you’d be a good fit with this position.

REPP

Junior Web Developer

OVERVIEW
REPP (www.myREPP.com) is an online identity verification company located in Cincinnati, Ohio. REPP is a 2012 Brandery graduate and was named one of CNBC’s World’s Most Promising Companies and has been featured in The Huffington Post and Cincinnati Enquirer.

OPPORTUNITY
REPP is looking for a Junior Web Developer to help in the development and testing of our Identity Management and Background Check service platform.

Primary responsibilities would include:
• Troubleshooting bugs
• End user support
• Application testing
HTML & CSS development
• JavaScript development on both the client and server side (Node.js)

Required Skills:
• At least 1-2 years experience using HTML & CSS
• At least 1-2 years experience using JavaScript
• Ability to work on a team
• Excellent interpersonal skills for end user support
• The desire and flexibility needed to work at a small startup
• Dependable, Organized, and Resourceful
• Eager to learn, quick to do, and self-directed

CONTACT info@repp.com for more information!

Company Update: SocialThreader

Check out what SocialThreader has been up to since Demo Day in October 2012:

As much as we enjoy interacting with our companies during the summer sessions, we especially love watching them succeed post-launch. One of our 2012 graduates, SocialThreader, has experienced tremendous success since Demo Day and is this week’s featured company!

The company’s CEO, Vinay Murthy, describes SocialThreader as a tool that “increases the effectiveness of digital marketing by leveraging social media in ads and websites. It allows seamless integration of a brand’s social content from Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, blogs and websites as well as consumer and influencer voices from social platforms.”

Quite simply, SocialThreader is a platform that threads all of a brand’s social (earned), web-based (owned) and digital media (paid) together into one seamless experience. It can be embedded on websites and linked to other sites. The tool was initially piloted with Bush Beans and will soon be used by a variety of different brands.

SocialThreader not only threads content, it also allows brands to curate and target specific consumers and measure time on sites, page views and uniques. This enables brands to maximize the acceleration of social engagement for their entire portfolio. The tool is fully customizable and the team continues to add new features.

SocialThreader was recently awarded a “Digital Innovation Project” from Procter & Gamble. Vinay and his team will work with the ethnic marketing group at P&G to roll out social integration of their owned and earned content on their .com site. The company was also selected by Kroger, a major national grocery chain, to promote their organic brand of products and has entered into a partnership with a market leader in commenting platforms for distribution of social content for brands.

We are extremely proud of the company’s success and look forward to its continued growth.

For more information on SocialThreader, please visit their website or email vinay@socialthreader.com!

General Assembly in Cincinnati!

General Assembly

We are pleased to announce that we have been selected as General Assembly’s exclusive Viewing Partner in Cincinnati. As part of the program, we will be offering the community a certain number of online videos every month! We will congregate in The Brandery to watch the screenings of the classes, discuss the materials, and brainstorm ways in which we can all use the information in our day-to-day lives.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with General Assembly, General Assembly is a network of campuses that empower individuals through education in technology, business, and design. We are very excited to offer you their educational content and hope that the videos introduce you to things you wish you knew and help you hone things you need to brush up on.

Some of the topics we plan to cover include:

1. How to Teach Yourself to Code


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“If you have a great idea but lack the technical know-how to bring it to fruition, this is the class for you. Demand for freelance developers is skyrocketing and you can get in on the action by learning how to code prototypes in just a few weeks. In this class, Mattan will show you how he built his first fully-functional app with less than one month of coding experience. You’ll learn what key resources you need to know, the best methods for learning coding quickly, and emphasize how to make the entire process fun and enjoyable.”

2. Introduction to Web Design


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“In this class we’ll tackle some development principles to get you on the right path. Learn how to craft professional looking web layouts and designs with HTML + CSS. Get your first site up and running in no time and start your journey to becoming a web development pro. Download these code samples to follow along.”

3. Getting Started with Facebook Advertising


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“Facebook has nearly one billion users. With an audience that large, there is an amazing opportunity to scale your business using the Facebook platform. This class is designed for everyone from startups to big brands that want to achieve better results from their Facebook marketing efforts.”


4.  Monetizing Your App


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“So you’ve got an idea for an app? Awesome! But how are you going to turn this puppy into a real business? There are options galore: charging for it, selling virtual goods, or everyone’s guilty pleasure, running ads


What will be your strategy? Learn the tricks and trades of various mobile monetization strategies and put yourself in a position to grab your share of this rapidly growing $2B dollar market.”

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The dates/times for our classes will be coming out in the next week or so. Check back on our blog and facebook page for more information.

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