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Branderyhaus Startup Housing

So. You’ve started a great company and you’ve been accepted to the accelerator program of your dreams and now it’s time to move to a random city for a few months. AWESOME. Now you just have to:

  • Research neighborhoods in the area and decide which is the coolest
  • Find an apartment, possibly without having seen it
  • Figure out the local utility providers and get set up with electricity, internet, etc
  • Put down security deposits to start service with said utility companies
  • Figure out how to get all of your stuff moved to this new city
  • Buy furniture for your apartment

None of that sounds very fun, and on top of all of that, you’re trying to run your company.

The Brandery didn’t want our startups to have to go through these pains while relocating to Cincinnati, or even have to consider them while trying to decide if our program was right for them. That thought, coupled with the fact that our office is in the increasingly popular Over The Rhine neighborhood, where apartments are getting more expensive and harder to find, led us to the creation of Branderyhaus.

Branderyhaus is a 14-unit apartment building renovated and managed by our partners, Urban Sites. The Brandery holds a master lease for the building, allowing us to sublease the units at an affordable rate to our startups during the time they’re in Cincinnati.

The building is located about 2 blocks from Union Hall. The rent is low for the area, and one of the best perks is that all utilities are not only included, but already set up for you when you arrive. We’ve even got insanely comfortable PONS beds provided by Standard Textile, so you can immediately take a nap and then get to work as soon as you arrive in Cincinnati. Our mission at The Brandery is to bring businesses to Cincinnati, show them what we have to offer, and encourage them to thrive and grow here. What better way to do that than to fully immerse our founders into one of Cincinnati’s most vibrant neighborhood?

When the units aren’t housing startup founders, we list them on Airbnb. Since we’re a nonprofit, all of the money we make with short term rentals goes back to our companies. Win/win! Traveling to Cincinnati soon? Check them out here!

Now Accepting Applications for 2016!

Today marks just one of many exciting days to come this year; we’ve opened up the application process for 2016, the 7th class to come to the Brandery. Between now and April 15, we’re looking forward to seeing the best and brightest minds and ideas come to us. Last year, we received about 1,000 applications and narrowed it down to 10 incredible startups. With the amount of applications that come in, we’re going to be pretty busy over the next 12 weeks- so we highly recommend submitting your application as early as possible! If you have any questions, email us at info@brandery.org .

Here are some key dates to follow for the next 10 weeks:

  • Today: Applications open on AngelList and F6S
  • Thursday, Feb 4: Open Office Hours at the Brandery, 12 PM – 4 PM – Meet The Brandery team, check out our space at Union Hall, and talk about your idea and application.
  • Thursday, February 25: Open Office Hours at the Brandery, 3 PM – 6 PM – Did you miss the first Office Hours? Come on down to Union Hall and hang out with The Brandery team.
  • Tuesday, March 1: Early Bird Deadline #1 – We’ll have received 100 applications by this point- it’s a lot easier to review 100 applications than 1,000. That’s all we’re saying.
  • Tuesday, March 15: Open Office Hours at the Brandery, 1 PM – 5 PM – Whether you missed the first two Office Hours or just want to hang out with us again, our doors will be open.
  • Thursday, March 31: Happy/Office Hours at the Brandery, 5 PM – 8 PM – If you haven’t been able to make it to previous office hours because of work, the next few sessions are just for you.
  • Friday, April 1: Early Bird Deadline #2 – At this point, 80% of applications will have been submitted. The earlier you get yours in, the more time we have to spend learning about you!
  • Thursday, April 14: Happy/Office Hours at the Brandery, 5 PM – 8 PM – If you haven’t been able to make it to previous office hours because of work, come on down to Union Hall and hang out for a bit.
  • Thursday, April 21: Happy/Office Hours at the Brandery, 5 PM – 8 PM – Last chance to meet Brandery staff and share your startup with us!
  • Friday, April 29: Applications close after 11:59:59 PM.
  • Mid-May: Selected Companies Notified – If we’ve chosen you to join us in Cincinnati for our 7th class, we’ll be contacting you around this time.

We’re excited to continue the Brandery’s tradition of turning out great companies, and we hope you’ll be one of them! Best of luck!

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.

Accelerator Update: Cincinnatians love Cincinnati, too.

Last week, we featured two entrepreneurs in our program from California who are more than pleasantly surprised with all Cincinnati has to offer. But what about the true Cincinnati folks? Three teams have been building their businesses in Cincinnati from the beginning. We wanted to step back and ask the the CEOs of our three Cincinnati startups about their experiences as entrepreneurs in Ohio and their journey to becoming part of The Brandery Class of 2014.


Eric Elias, CEO of Lagoon, 28, has led engineering teams in hardware and software projects at Clifton Labs. He has experience in finance and operations with General Electric and Nielsen. Eric’s entrepreneurship roots started at Washington University in St. Louis, working at the Skandalaris Center and starting a city-wide wireless company. Eric enjoys coffee drinking and bike riding in Over-the-Rhine.


Lagoon is a hardware/software solution to raise awareness and give actionable techniques around water consumption. The flow sensor is externally wrapped around the outside of the main water line and communicates to the smartphone app. The app provides information, actions and notifications regarding water use.

Steffan Howey, CEO of Peerio, 26, has spent the last six years in business development and sales at both startups and Fortune 500 companies. In a past life, he was the metal vocalist of a nationally-recognized touring band.


Peerio solves the problem of back-and-forth communication, Yelping, Googling, etc. when trying to meet up with someone. Whether you’re meeting with friends, a professional contact, a date, or with strangers, Peerio’s auto-geolocation and proximity tools help in selecting the best place for you to meet, based on the context of the meeting.

Matt Lenahan, CEO of HireWheel, 34, has a decade of professional experience having worked for NYC’s two largest real estate firms as a broker and referral director. While at his last company he referred over $250M of business in one year. He also co-founded a mortgage firm on Wall Street and in West Palm Beach. Matt was a finalist on the CBS television show SURVIVOR, where he went by the family nickname, “Sash.”


HireWheel allows any professional to make effortless referrals. HireWheel believes the review industry is fundamentally flawed and is setting out to change that.

How long have you been in Cincinnati? What brought you here?

Matt: I moved to Cincinnati at the end of 2013 after living in New York City for 7 years. My wife is originally from Cincinnati, and she was offered an opportunity at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. She grew up here and went to school at Miami University, but really hadn’t been back since as an adult. Because it was such a great opportunity, we packed our bags and headed to Cincinnati.

Steffan: I moved from Toledo to Cincinnati back in 2008 after deciding to follow a failing relationship down here. All reasons aside, if you’ve ever been to Toledo you would agree that it all worked out in my favor, haha.

Eric: After graduating from Washington University in St. Louis, I had a great opportunity with GE Aviation in Cincinnati. It was one of those really corporate jobs in finance. Then I went to Nielsen, where I worked in finance and operations. In 2011 I left the corporate world to work in St. Louis and Chicago for a few startups before coming back to Cincinnati to work for a startup.

What’s your Cincinnati startup story?

S: I decided to venture out into the world of entrepreneurship myself after realizing I was not a good fit in the corporate world. After all, it’s easy to ask why and criticize a company’s direction when it’s not your own. I needed to learn for myself. So I founded a company called Lomerce that allowed you to search and discover physical products in stores around you. We ended up going under due to poor inventory data, a problem our new friends at Shelfie (also a Brandery 2014 company) are trying to solve, but it taught me a ton. After that failed company, I was hooked, and I knew this was going to be my future. Now I’m here in The Brandery. Life’s funny.

M: At first I was really hesitant to move to Cincinnati because I was founding a tech company and I really doubted that any city could have the type of resources that New York does, with the exception of Silicon Valley. I’ve been pleasantly surprised, but even more so, overwhelmed, because it’s an awesome community and there is such amazing support for startup founders.

E: While I was away in St. Louis, in 2010 and 2011, you could really see the seeds of the startup scene growing, especially with the first Brandery class being in that year. I kept seeing the trajectory of startup culture that was going on in Cincinnati, so I came back to work for a startup here. I also joined my friend’s development shop, Clifton Labs, where half of our clients were startups. By 2013, three of my friends had moved back to Cincinnati, too, and we started working on side projects together. One of those turned in to Lagoon.

And why did you choose to stay?

M: There are so many resources superior to those in NYC that I’ve been able to tap into. It’s been an awesome experience so far and I couldn’t have asked for anything more.

E: We chose to stay both for the support the city provides and the strong networks you can create. It’s so easy to get intros and have access to high level executives and mentors; it’s literally one phone call away. For us, being a hardware company, we are able to have a 2000 square foot workshop in Over-the-Rhine to create our technology, which is a huge advantage of this neighborhood.
We looked at other incubators, but knew we wanted to have a consumer-facing brand and we needed to have that experience to encourage people to change the way they use water. We love Cincinnati. It’s such a huge support structure.

S: Once I was here, I fell in love with the city and I’ve never looked back since.

What is your favorite part about the city?

E: I love our OTR neighborhood. It’s where literally everyone knows your name. From the restaurants to the small businesses to the people you run into, it’s great.

S: I love that you get the perks of a big city but you can still have a meeting with anyone that you want to. It’s got a big city feel with all the small town benefits.

M: I have to piggyback. The opportunity to create genuine relationships is my favorite part. The other day my wife came down to OTR for her birthday. Just walking from The Brandery to Senate, I saw four people I knew eating outside that said “hey” or gave me high fives. The community has been really great.

What has been the best part about building your business in the Midwest?

E: When we test consumer groups, it applies to a larger population. The demographics in this area are great for testing opinions. We’ve had huge support, too. Confluence has been extremely supportive, the Department of Commerce, Sally and Roy at the EPA, Marc Connor and his team at POSSIBLE, and then The Brandery mentors from Mark Achler to Hunter Thurman have been incredible. That system of support helps you ensure your startup will keep living.

M: No one has ever said no. Never. Even before The Brandery started, people were willing to take meetings and reach out. Every meeting I take, people ask, “How can I help?”

S: The Midwest is full of helpful people who genuinely want to help your business succeed. And if they can’t help you, they can find someone who can. More specifically, if you’re connected through The Brandery or a company like P&G, you are only a degree or two away from literally anyone that you might want to meet with. It continues to amaze me.

The worst?

E: For us, we are addressing a water conservation issue and the Ohio Valley has a river and has enough water. Balancing that and our target consumers is a challenge.

M: From a recruiting standpoint, it’s a challenge when speaking with people who have never been here before. Once they’re here, they get it. They see how amazing it is. It’s just getting them here for the first time. Cincinnati is such an easy sell once they get here, but getting over the initial barrier is a challenge. Plus, CVG is expensive to fly to.

S: If you want to raise money here, you only have a handful of options. It’s getting better though with heavy hitters like Drive Capital. Special shout out to our mentor Mark Kvamme!

What has been the best part of The Brandery so far?

E: The people. I love our teams so much. They have great ideas and are so supportive. We are competitive but we all work together— from marketing, to development, to helping you find an apartment. The Brandery structure is good as far as creating a level of urgency. It’s not about the money, it’s about the push forward.

M: Mentors are an incredible asset. And getting the opportunity to work with the agencies. Plus, the internet is amazing. I’ve never seen so many developers geek out so hard.

S: Seconded on everything these guys just said. I would also add that the Brandery provides a kick-ass office full of amenities. From catered meals multiple times per week, to awesome snacks and an unlimited supply of coffee, beer, and the obligatory startup staple – foosball. Oh, and the internet is literally off the charts. Thanks Cincinnati Bell!

What can fellow Cincinnatians do to help you be successful?

E: Check out our website and get on The Brandery’s beta list.

M: Follow us on Twitter and other social media for updates on what we are doing and how to get involved.

S: We need people to try out our first product, our mobile app. We need the feedback. Sign up for an early beta version of the app and give us your thoughts. Any business owner that owns a cafe or restaurant and would like to get more involved with startups, we have a lot of ideas on ways our product to drive traffic to your location. Those early conversations are important to us, so send us a note.

NOTE: You can get on The Brandery’s beta list here.

Any last thoughts?

S: The momentum in Cincinnati is incredible. The proud and competitive feeling I get when another Cincinnati startup closes a round of funding, hires people, or gets a new office is inexplainable. Frameri closes a round, hires a bunch of people and opens a new office, Roadtrippers hires their 40th employee – all of these things provide an insane amount of the “founder juice” necessary to keep the momentum going for our own company. I’m just so proud of what’s happening here in Cincinnati and would recommend anyone to spend just a few days here. You’ll quickly understand what we’ve been talking about.

E: These other great startups like Choremonster and Ahalogy, they have paved the way for us.

M: Modulus exiting was huge too. The momentum… There’s so much happening right now. We know we are on the verge of something bigger in Cincinnati and we just hope to be a part of it.

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Photos in this post courtesy of Christa Belle Martin | Black Bread Box Studio

Brand Camp: The First Two Weeks

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We sat down with two of our startup co-founders in The Brandery Class of 2014, Connor Bowlan and Joel Green, to ask about their first two weeks at The Brandery. Connor Bowlan, 24 (CEO) studied sociology at the University of California, Merced. He previously served as the technical cofounder of a startup that built tools to automate bookings for residential cleaning services. Connor has spent time all over the world, most recently in Botswana where he attended the University of Botswana, studied micro-social interactions, and explored Southern Africa by motorcycle. Joel Green, 21 (CEO), is a mobile and python developer who recently dropped out of the University of California Santa Barbara. Over the last several years, Joel has spent time developing robotics, conducting undergraduate research at UCSB, building automated lab tools, and participating in hackathons as an iOS developer. Previous to engineering, Joel has spent time as a Jazz pianist and music composer.


Connor (left) and Joel (right) sporting red shirts under the Cincinnati sign.

What is the most surprising thing about Cincinnati so far?

Joel: I’ve definitely been surprised at how friendly people are. Especially compared to California, everyone is so willing to help with things all the time. I’m more than pleasantly surprised by Cincinnati. I’m pretty stoked on this place. My plan is to stay here as long as it is in the best interest of my startup, and I see no downside of that at all. I’m really happy here.

Connor: It’s such a close knit community. There’s no fatigue related to startups like in the Bay Area. If you tell someone you’re going to startup in the Bay Area you usually get an eye roll and they change the conversation. Here, they ask you what you are doing and ask you how they can help. The main thing is that people are welcoming and open to it. It’s not seen as a threat.

Joel: Another thing that surprised me is how much design and marketing talent there is here. I’d never really known that much about Cincinnati, besides a few things I’d read here or there. Once I did my research, I said, “Oh, okay. There is P&G, and there is Kroger, and there are some headquarters here.” But once I got here, I was like, “Wow, UC is here and marketers are literally everywhere.” It’s amazing. If San Francisco is known as the city of tech, Cincinnati is the city of marketing. It’s pretty big.


Best part about the city?

Joel: So far, the cost of living is definitely my favorite part, plus there’s so much to do here. Honestly, for half the price of a really crappy place in California, I’m living in the nicest place here. This is the kind of place I imagined I’d be living in if I sold my company, not when it’s just starting out, and it’s so easily within budget. Also, the architecture is super ancient and cool but everyone here is so high-tech and into the latest things and carrying around the newest device.

Connor: There’s so much excitement and enthusiasm for the OTR area. It extends past startups, to small businesses in general. Everyone wants to introduce you to their connections. They don’t see their connections as resources, but more of interpersonal relationships. It takes one day to get a reference to anyone in the city.


What has been the best day of The Brandery so far?

Joel: Brand in a Day was definitely very interesting. It was early, and a lot of stuff was going on, so it was challenging, but it was so productive. My favorite day was when we started Failbone/Quack with Connor and [Connor’s co-founder] Rhett because thats when we got to know each other the best. Failbone originally spawned from Connor playing a trombone noise whenever someone failed at something. Then, we built an app that played it in a radius on everyones phone. From there, Connor decided to come up with his own thing, Quack, which evolved into what we all use now at The Brandery.

Wait… so what’s Quack?

Connor: Quack is a location-based messaging platform that removes all barriers to interaction. It allows people to communicate quickly and efficiently, much like you would in real life. Theres also an element of humor in it, which really brings people into the platform and allows them to express themselves without the fear of guilt or judgement. The thing that excites me most about Quack is that if you’re not staring at it all the time, you feel like youre left out of the joke. It makes you feel like you were last picked for the baseball team in elementary school, so it forces you to look at the app all the time. It’s like having an inside joke that everyone within 400 feet is in on.

Joel: At this point, there’s an iOS, Andrioid, and Pebble version of Quack which have come together from members of three different startups. It’s like a monstrosity of a startup that has spawned out of all the companies. The funniest part is it’s the most popular one.


A screenshot of Quack for iOS.



What is the most unique part of The Brandery?

Connor: The excitement and palpable feeling that everyone is on the edge of something big is really exciting. Everyone is silently (and sometimes not silently) pushing each other forward. My favorite thing is being around other people every day while I work. For the past eight months or so, it’s just been me in a room working, but that is not exciting as being around people everyday who are so much more inspiring.

Joel: I’m surprised at how many resources The Brandery actually provides. The $20k seems almost insignificant compared to how many resources we actually get. Any resource you could possibly need is pretty much available on the first floor— at any hour— just by asking the other startups in the room.

Connor: I didn’t realize how much I would actually think of The Brandery as home. After we’d been here for two weeks, we felt like we’d been here for two months. We were able to get integrated so quickly. You have an ex-Army Ranger sitting next to a 19 year-old college dropout, who is sitting next to the drummer from a platinum selling rock band, who is sitting next to a finalist from Survivor. Where else will you find that?


What has been the most beneficial part in building your business?

Connor: The mentors have been great in getting us to think about things we hadn’t even considered before. The mentors have leveraged a lot of resources for us and helped connect us to a lot of people. They give us a lot of quick insights that they have from years and years of experience that help us focus and not flail around and not know what we doing. It’s also surprising how much the big corporations in Cincinnati are willing to help. Usually, in the stereotypical startup narrative, they are the villains. But really, they are so open and willing to help with mentoring, which is impressive.

Joel: There are 12 startups from all diverse backgrounds here, so whether its development, connections, marketing, life, or business, there are always people there to help you. That’s the most powerful thing. Having everyone here 24/7 is the best thing so far.

Keep checking back for more updates on The Brandery Class of 2014, including info on their startups and their continued transition in Cincinnati. #Brandery2014

New Space and a New Class

With the finishing touches being put on the new Brandery office located at 1411 Vine St. in Over-the-Rhine it seems only fitting that The Brandery class of 2011 was officially announced today.  We had a record year for applications, with companies applying from seven countries and 22 states.  In the end, we selected 9 companies who will part of an amazing group of entrepreneurs that will be starting their journey on August 1st.  Below is a bit more information on the startups and the entrepreneurs behind them.

Brandery 2011 Class

ChoreMonster, founded by Chris Bergman in Cincinnati, is a suite of web and mobile applications that allow parents to create chore “adventures” for their children, creating ownership of responsibilities in a unique and engaging way.

Keepio, founded by Dave Durand in Louisville, helps collectors, homeowners, and gadget enthusiasts to keep track of their personal belongings and interests, and then buy, sell or share their belongings within public or private marketplaces through a platform for peer-to-peer transactions.

Meruni, founded by Michael & Megan Wohlschlaeger in Shanghai, China, is a data aggregation and analytics platform which will enable both consumers and merchants to harness the power of O2O commerce.

Receept, founded by Kevin Pfefferle in Columbus, is building a platform for the web and mobile devices that will allow consumers to store, sort, search for and share receipts from any source, physical or digital. This will open up opportunities for customer-to-customer recommendations, profile existing customer bases for merchants and track loyalty for retail locations, brands and products.

RentShare, founded by Ian Halpern, Christopher Toppino, and Trevor Geise in New York City, is a social payment platform that makes it easy for renters to pay rent online, share expenses with roommates, and more.

Roadtrippers, founded by James Fisher, Tatiana Parent and Daniel Nielsen in Berlin, is a powerful, easy-to-use website and mobile app that allows users to plan amazing road trips by aggregating a wide range of travel data.

Spaciety (pronounced spa-SIGH-ih -tee), founded by Andrew Dennis and Eric Liu in Chicago, is Travelocity meets Open Table for spa/salon services, by consolidating spa services, locations, prices and appointment booking to one easily navigated website.

Wellthy, founded in Cincinnati by James Dickerson and Ryan Tinker, is the fun, social, and simple way for businesses to get more engaged in health and wellness.  Coworkers share healthy meals and activities, as well as enter in to health challenges with one another to earn points, badges, and rewards.

Read more : Brandery Class Kick Off and Brandery’s New Companies Have International Flavor