Tags

Archives

Why You Need The Brandery Agency Partnership: Interbrand & Oros

When Michael Markesbery and Rithvik Venna entered The Brandery’s 2015 cohort, they faced a problem that many startups have to deal with: a trademark issue that meant their company, Lukla, not only needed a great brand, but a new name to begin with.

Oros creates outerwear that uses NASA technology called aerogel (the same stuff they put in spacesuits!) to protect wearers from extreme environmental conditions without the heavy weight and bulk of traditional outerwear. This amazing innovation deserved a brand that was just a special.

After being paired with Interbrand, a global brand agency with an incredible team in Cincinnati, the group got to work on crafting a name that would inform the entire brand identity. With the company’s vision and brand strategy in mind, the new name became Oros, the Greek word for mountain. This name represents adventure, challenge and conquest and reflects the essence of the original name, Lukla.

Interbrand explored Oros’ target customer and came up with some strong themes that informed their logo and brand design. The brand proposition “Conquer Your Everest” became a common thread throughout the design process – with the logo creating a visual link to a mountain right down to the unique, custom packaging design that embodies the same essence of a peak. The packaging design for Oros was so strong, in fact, that Interbrand received an “Outstanding Achievement” mention in the 2016 Dieline Awards competition, highlighting the best in consumer packaging design worldwide.

Oros graduated from The Brandery in October 2015 and raised a $1.2 million seed round last year, led by NCT Ventures. A recent Forbes article, Why Ohio Is The Best State In America To Launch A Startup, featured their journey and included this quote from Markesbery: “Because there are more Fortune 500 companies headquartered (in the Midwest) than anywhere else in the world, that means is that there are dozens of incredible branding, marketing, and advertising companies here…Our packaging has won eight different international awards already because we just happen to have one of the best companies in the world doing that right here in Cincinnati.”

We really couldn’t have said it better ourselves.

Special thanks to Interbrand for being a dynamic agency partner year in and year out!

Brandery 2017 applications are open until April 29. Apply via F6S or AngelList. Have questions regarding the program or your application? Contact us at info@brandery.org!

Mistakes Were Made

I-krfn7pz-x3

$130,000,000+ raised by our companies.
Over 400 jobs created.
A Top-10 accelerator in the US.

There are a lot of great stats that I often use when talking about The Brandery. However, if you’ve ever heard one of my talks before, you know that the most important statistic to me is this one:

100% of our participant companies said the program was worth it.

No doubt this remains true today. That said, I’ll be the first to admit we are hanging on to that 100% by the skin of our teeth.

The Brandery team has done a lot of thinking on how to get better in 2017. Our conclusions are that we have slipped in two main areas: type of company selected to be in the program and the stage that company was at when chosen.

When The Brandery was started in 2010, the goal was to bring great talent to Cincinnati. That’s why, in every class, most of the teams come from outside the city. The initial thesis was to choose consumer-facing, high growth companies but we quickly created a lot of wiggle room there to accommodate talented founders over any other factor. I don’t necessarily think that was a bad decision, but we certainly lost focus on other variables. A talented round peg can succeed in spite of the square hole, but it’s not exactly ideally sustainable.

After many years of great results, and a particularly great 2015, we got over-zealous in thinking we could move the needle for anyone we brought in. While we always added some value to everyone who came through the program, the truth is we can help some companies tremendously and others in only limited ways. This is a function of the talents of our staff, mentorship pool, and the intrinsic nature of our close network of partners and sponsors. See here for more about the types of companies we are going after in 2017. Pretty much everyone in our network is well-positioned to add tons of value to these kind of startups.

We also overestimated our ability to take early teams and will them over the line to funding (as we have in years past). Historically, we average close to $2MM in funding per company, but out of the gate in 2016, our alumni did not find great success fundraising. Some of this is the function of the environment, but a lot is on us as well. The current state of venture funding requires significant traction to raise a proper seed round. What was needed to raise an A Round in 2012 you now need for the seed. This means we need to find talented teams that have already hit that product-market fit, raised a bit of money, and are looking to get to that next level. It’s almost impossible to get a small team with just a barebones MVP there in the span of a 16-week accelerator program.

If there was another miss it was simply around expectation setting. Past performance is no guarantee of future results but we didn’t do a great job of correcting the expectation that, as with past Brandery classes, a good majority of our companies would be able to raise a round of funding soon after Demo Day. We need to do better in preparing our companies for the reality of what comes after they leave us.

Running a startup is all about building, testing, refining – and repeating. I look at The Brandery in the same way. We can’t get better unless we’re honest with ourselves about where we fell short. Will our sharpened focus work? I think it will, but the only way to find out for sure is to dive in. I’m looking forward to an exciting 2017 – and learning even more.

We’ve seen a lot of accelerators shut down in 2016/17. It is a tough model if you have lulls/gaps. That said, we’re going to continue to be a strong pillar of the StartupCincy ecosystem for many years to come. Our drive to learn, evolve, and grow is the reason why. I welcome anyone and everyone to help us continue to get better!

Alumni Series: Why Choose The Brandery?

Unnamed1

If you’re in the process of applying to The Brandery’s 2016 accelerator program, you might be doing a lot of research to try and figure out whether The Brandery is the right fit for your company, or even trying to decide between more than one accelerator. We get it – there’s a lot to consider!

During this time, we’ve asked a few of our alumni to chime in with their perspective about why they picked The Brandery, how it helped them, and ultimately why they decided to grow in Cincinnati.

Meet Casamatic (class of 2015):

Casamatic instantly matches buyers to their perfect home by learning about the people, activities, and styles they love—the most important criteria for millennials when buying a home.

Why did you choose The Brandery over another accelerator? Why did you feel The Brandery was right for you?

Chris and I were both already heavily involved in the #StartupCincy community, so we knew how great The Brandery was from our discussions with companies that participated in prior classes. It was an especially powerful opportunity for us because of the connection to the branding agency—with the help of Landor, we were able to make our app look incredible, which is REALLY important for consumer-focused startups like ours.

Why did you choose to grow your company in Cincinnati?

There was never any other option. :-) My wife and I moved back to Cincinnati to be a part of the community here, and the resources and talent that we have in Cincinnati are amazing.

Company Highlights: Üluntu and GILD Collective

Another week closer to Demo Day brings yet another week of company highlights! Get to know the names and faces behind Üluntu and GILD as they present their company highlight.

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

Üluntu

Daryn Hillhouse – CEO

Nick Rattermann – CTO

John Gordos – Technical Advisor

Daryn: I recently moved to Cincinnati from Cape Town, South Africa. I have a background in operations and logistics and run a successful events company in South Africa. I was introduced to Nick by James Fisher, CEO of Roadtrippers. Nick worked for Roadtrippers when the company started 4 years ago at The Brandery, and more recently worked at a defense contractor as a software programmer. John Gordos and I met through through a combination of networking / office hours events organized by The Brandery, as well as through introductions made by local and ex-Brandery startups.

GILD Collective

Jessie Deye – CEO

Kelsey Pytlik – Chief Experience Officer

Rachel Bauer – Chief Creative Officer

Kelsey: Rachel Bauer McCreary, Jessie Deye, and Kelsey Pytlik (myself) are on our team. We all met a few years ago when I moved to Cincinnati from my hometown in Cleveland, and Rachel returned to Cincinnati after being away for college, traveling abroad, and grad school. Jessie is originally from Cincinnati and had been working here since graduating from UC. We never really talked about starting a company, but it was clear that we were all looking for “something more.” So when the idea for GILD Collective popped into Rachel’s head and she texted us (yes, a text was the start of our company) it was easy for us all to get excited and get on board.

What is your company?

Üluntu

Daryn: We are Üluntu (which means “Community” in the African Zulu language). We are building a social platform for the mass-participation events industry. We build highly engaged communities around their event experiences.

GILD Collective

Kelsey: GILD Collective! We offer women a fun reason to get together in the spirit of creativity by throwing awesomely curated craft parties. We provide all the supplies and instruction, and our party hostesses just provide the space and the friends.

What attracted you to apply to The Brandery?

Üluntu

Daryn: I think it was a combination of what The Brandery offered in terms of providing the environment to build a product and brand, and the revival currently taking place in Cincinnati, particularly in Over-The-Rhine. Being surrounded by like-minded, positive, young people all contributing to building a better future for themselves and the community, is a super powerful attraction.

GILD Collective

Kelsey: We knew very early on that our branding was going to be critical for the success of our company. People need to associate Gild with feelings of fun and excitement, but also with confidence and creativity. Knowing that, we felt like the Brandery would be a great fit for us. Also, being just an “idea on a napkin” around the time of applications, we were eager for mentorship and guidance since we were beginning down a path that we had never been before. It’s also pretty awesome that we have a top accelerator in our back yard, given that we all live just a few minutes away!

What’s been the best part?

Üluntu

Daryn: The network. It’s not everyday that you can get on the phone to the Marketing Director of the Dollar Shave Club, CEO’s of the largest Venture Capital firms in the country, or ex-NFL superstars like Dhani Jones. The access to an incredible network of mentors and investors who are genuinely interesting in your success, and willing to assist wherever needed, again, is an incredible privilege.

GILD Collective

Kelsey: For me, the best part of the Brandery has been the intense support that we have been given. Support can look a lot of different ways – we have an amazing creative agency who has delivered us work that brought us to tears, we have mentors who reassure us when we’re not sure we’re doing the right thing, and we have other teams beside us building us up when we need it the most. We also have the support of the Brandery team, who has not only helped us learn the language of ‘startup’ but more importantly put their faith in us as a company and lit a fire in us to succeed and move quickly. Without The Brandery, we would probably have had a couple parties that nobody paid for, but with The Brandery we’ve had over 20 parties and we’re generating revenue.

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

Üluntu

Daryn: I really enjoy being able to walk to work. On the weekend, it has to be taking a #CincyRedBike and riding through the parks along the river, then heading back to OTR for some Eagle chicken, washed down with a Rhinegeist Truth. What more do you need? Cincinnati has everything.

GILD Collective

Kelsey: Is eating an okay answer? :) It seems like there is always a new restaurant opening up to try, so it is fun to make your way around to those. There’s also something different to do in Washington Park any day of the week (City Flea, workout classes, movies in the park, CRAFTS IN THE PARK!!) And… I like to run down along the river. The pathways have just been expanded yet again and it is quite beautiful.

Meet Üluntu and GILD Collective in the flesh! Üluntu is throwing the first-ever 5k that combines both physical and mental prowess. Get a team together (anyone can participate, not just the super-fit Spartan Racers) and sign up. Plus, the last Sunday of the month, GILD Collective does crafts in the park for just $20. Registration will open soon for the September 30 event.

Stay tuned for the final company highlights coming within the next few weeks and other Brandery news by subscribing to our email list.



Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required
Email Format



Photos in this post by Zackariah Cole Photography.

Company Highlights: AdAdapted and Wyzerr

It’s time for another company highlight! This week we take a deeper look at Wyzerr and AdAdapted, two companies from outside of Cincinnati.

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

AdAdapted

Mike Pedersen – CEO

Molly McFarland – CMO

Mike: Molly and myself are the two co-founders, but our total team is up to six. The two of us met at another start-up that was in the marketing tech space. I was the architect of the initial platform and worked hand in hand with the sales and marketing team to bring on new clients.

While I was there, I spent a lot of time working with Molly and that lead to us teaming up on AdAdapted.

Wyzerr

Natasia Malaihollo – CEO, Lead Programmer

Bjorn Simmons – CMO

Stedmon Harper – CCO

Natasia: We have 3 full-time founders in Cincinnati: Stedmon Harper, Bjorn Simmons, and myself. I met Stedmon in Fayetteville, Arkansas while working on my first startup, Sooligan, 3 years ago. I was in The Ark Challenge accelerator there and we were looking for someone to help us market to the students at the University of Arkansas. Stedmon was a local influencer at the college so we recruited him to help us do outreach and events for students. Stedmon stayed on with the company all three years while we worked on the startup. When Sooligan ended last year, I recruited Stedmon to help me start Wyzerr. He brought on Bjorn to help out with the sales and marketing.

What is your company?

AdAdapted

Mike: Have you ever clicked on one of those banner ads at the bottom of your favorite app? Probably not. Can you even name the brand you last saw advertised in one? Again, probably not. Advertising through banner ads and popups is common, yet disruptive and ineffective.

AdAdapted is changing that by creating a native advertising platform specifically for mobile applications. Instead of using a one size fits all solution, AdAdapted provides tools that allows developers to build custom sponsored experiences into their application. Now they can create ads that match the look, feel, and context of their application.

Since house a number of custom ads, our platform can match apps up with brands where there’s a contextual fit. When you’re out grocery shopping, what’s more effective, an ad about a product you can find in two minutes in the store or a message about how Obama wants you to refinance your home?

For brands, they receive a custom experience, at scale, in environments where the user is highly engaged.

Wyzerr

Natasia: Wyzerr helps businesses capture customer feedback. We build surveys that look and feel like games.

What attracted you to apply to The Brandery?

AdAdapted

Mike: We’re constantly trying to get into the door with brands, saw the name, and applied. Seemed to make sense.

Wyzerr

Natasia: I’ve actually been obsessed with The Brandery for the past 4 years. They rejected my first startup twice. I’ve always loved everything about what they stand for. I believe branding is incredibly important to any product or service that is consumer-facing, which Wyzerr is. You want be top of mind when a consumer thinks about something they need, which you offer. The partnerships with the creative agencies is what really made us apply to The Brandery. As a company that is really UX/UI focused, we wanted as many creative minds and thought leaders in this space to help improve our platform.

What’s been the best part?

AdAdapted

Mike: The incredible set of mentors who are associated with the Brandery. Since joining the Brandery, we’ve had the opportunity to get advice with some of the best minds in advertising, product, and adtech investing.

Wyzerr

Natasia: The creative agencies. We were fortunate enough to have two outstanding partnerships (POSSIBLE and Seed Strategy). They really treat us like a partner and help us with everything from design, logo, UX/UI, to our pitch deck, fundraising strategy, and brand manifesto. In exchange, we bring them fresh ideas and innovation. We’ve learned so much about branding and messaging, and how to position ourselves in the marketplace from our meetings with them.

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

AdAdapted

Mike: Chill and have a beer at Lachey’s.

Wyzerr

Natasia: For me personally, I really enjoy running from Ohio to Kentucky. I love the area around the riverbank, the bridge, and Covington. There’s so much character and it’s gorgeous. I sometimes just sit near the water and sketch new ideas for a user interface.

Big things ahead for these guys! Browse through their websites and products (AdAdapted, Wyzerr) to stay in touch with their companies, and check here soon to take a look at our next two highlighted startups!

Photos in this post by Zackariah Cole Photography.

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?

Casamatic

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?

Casamatic

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?

Casamatic

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?

Casamatic

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?

Casamatic

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

Img_1418

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.

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?

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.

How To Stand Out When Applying To The Brandery

Jrbmwmezlrfkur9h25x9pr8r5kravod5jme9rjulqe0,sq8nddemvahgbirck85mewa3cwjftmzay0wxudjuues

[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

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.