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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!

A Future Built On Our Past

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Around this time seven years ago, the idea of The Brandery was just starting to come to life. We didn’t have a building to call home. We didn’t have any funding. We didn’t have any employees. But we had our pitch deck and we were just crazy enough to think we could make this thing happen.

In other words, we were just like the startups that we one day hoped to help.

Seven years later, 66 startups have graduated from The Brandery, raised over $130 million in funding, and we have been consistently ranked as one of the top programs in the country. And in that time, the landscape of entrepreneurship and accelerator programs has changed. And it is time for us to change with it.

Many people do not realize it, but the underlying legal structure of The Brandery is based upon a 501©3, the mission of which is to support entrepreneurship in Cincinnati and the Midwest. Since day one, everyone involved in The Brandery has been involved because of that mission. The equity that we receive from startups in exchange for their participation in The Brandery does not go to investors. Instead, it sits in an endowment that we hope to use in the support of entrepreneurs.

I write that because in 2010, the city that The Brandery calls home was a very different place for entrepreneurs. There was no #StartupCincy as a rallying cry for the region. Aspiring founders didn’t have role models like EBTH, Dotloop, Assurex, or Modulus to show them the way. Cintrifuse did not exist and Union Hall was not the home of our hustle. As such, we viewed The Brandery as the opportunity to be an injection of talent into our ecosystem. It could be a reason for local entrepreneurs like Chris Bergman of FamilyTech to jump into the tech startup world. It could be a reason for entrepreneurs like Jim Fisher of Roadtrippers to move to Cincinnati sight unseen. We wanted it to be a reason to believe that Cincinnati and the Midwest could be a destination for startups – and the Venture Capitalists that invest in them.

We are a long way from ringing the bell and declaring success in that mission. But we have made amazing strides. As we move into 2017, The Brandery is refining the focus of the accelerator program in order to do our part in better helping entrepreneurs. As our announcement stated in early March, we are focusing the 2017 class (and beyond) on digitally native vertical brands (DNVBs) and the retail/marketing tech companies that give these brands a new way to reach consumers.

In many ways, our future is about us doubling down on our past. We are called The Brandery because we believed (and still do) that the skills of building a brand could be as valuable for tech startups as they could be for large consumer packaged goods. We also believed that we could uniquely involve mentors from the halls of large CPG companies who were leading their organization’s efforts in embracing digital marketing and marketing tech. Those two premises still hold true today and even more so as we sharpen our focus.

The other reason that I am excited about this sharpened focus is the impact it will have on the founders as they go through the program and become alumni. Every year, I am asked the question of what helps a company achieve success in The Brandery. And every year, my answer is the same: the companies that help others the most are the ones that succeed the most themselves. This continues after Demo Day where the founders who give the most back to the Brandery community are the ones who continue to shine. With this new focus, every startup in the class will be complementary in same way. They might be able to partner together with a consumer brand serving as a customer to a marketing tech startup. Or they will be able to share best practices on B2B customer acquisition or user retention for digitally native vertical brands.

We have come a long way in seven years, but I look forward to seeing how much further we go thanks to the startups that join The Brandery family in the years to come.

Dave Knox is the co-founder of The Brandery, Managing Director of WPP Ventures, and author of the newly released book Predicting The Turn: The High Stakes Game of Business Between Startups and Blue Chips .

Why You Need the Brandery Agency Partnership: Spicefire & Goodwipes

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Over the last few weeks, we’ve been telling you all about our sharpened focus on Digitally-Native Full Stack Products (CPG are part of that) & startups that support these kind of companies (both large and small) for our 2017 cohort. If you haven’t had a chance to read over our thought process behind this shift, check out this blog post from a few weeks ago when we made the announcement.

As our General Manager Tony Alexander said in his blog post earlier this week, “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. Pretty much everyone in our network is well-positioned to add tons of value to these kind of startups.” To illustrate this point, we’re going to share some of the success stories of Brandery alumni who fit into the categories of companies we’re looking for.

Meet Goodwipes, graduates of Brandery’s 2016 cohort. They are serious about being clean.

Charlie, Maria, and Sam: Team Goodwipes

Goodwipes had already sold 1 million body wipes at independent retailers and on Amazon when they came to Cincinnati last June on a mission to refine their brand and strengthen their company. Each company in our accelerator is paired 1-to-1 with a world-class creative agency, of which there is a high concentration in Cincinnati ( aka BrandHub, USA ) is one of the most significant reasons Goodwipes applied to The Brandery. We spoke to Sam Nebel, Co-Founder of Goodwipes, for his thoughts on why The Brandery’s program is so uniquely suited to help a CPG company.

Goodwipes worked with Spicefire to create a brand as fresh as their products. “They did nothing but GIVE, GIVE, GIVE”, Sam says. “Time, energy, attention, passion, experience, knowledge and patience. They shared. They worked with us through seemingly simple, yet extraordinarily arduous critical thinking exercises to define Goodwipes as it is today: a modern, better-for-you take on wet wipes that empowers people to do more, feel good, and live clean. We could not be happier with Jason Hargis and the Spicefire team. I’m talking endless hours of their busy time they gave us. If you understand how an agency works, time is money, and they spent extra time working with Goodwipes. It was really humbling and incredible to be given so much time and energy by such a talented group.”

The Goodwipes Branding Case Study

Goodwipes's Branding, Pre-Brandery

With the majority of Goodwipes’ sales occurring online, having a slick brand and packaging wasn’t nearly as important to them; with their goal of appearing on more brick-and-mortar shelves, it was more important to create eye-popping visuals that would appeal to customers looking up and down the personal care aisle. The Spicefire team helped to create a beautiful, modern look for their packaging, which also carried over to their advertising and web presence.





Spicefire’s collaboration and work with Goodwipes is just one reason we’re excited about our 2017 program; our agency partners have always yielded fantastic work no matter the type of startup we’ve paired them with, but now that we’re looking to work with more consumer-facing brands and the technologies that support them, the Brandery Agency Partnership should prove to be even more successful.

Sam wanted us to publish his personal number so that anyone interested in talking about applying to The Brandery could call him – we are going to spare him, but we’d be happy to answer any questions you might have about the 2017 application process. Contact us at info@brandery.org!

Introducing Brandery's 2016 Legal Fellows

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Pictured left to right: Emily, Brock, Luke and Akua

Today, we’ll be featuring our unsung heroes, the legal clerks. Since the beginning of the program, four law students from the University of Cincinnati have had the unique opportunity to work with our 2016 cohort. Through the Brandery Fellowship Program, these highly motivated individuals gained hands on legal experience working with our startups and legal mentorship from one of our founders, Rob McDonald. As summer comes to an end, the legal clerks will be heading back to school Monday, but it won’t be the last we see of them; they will continue to help the Brandery class of 2016 through Demo Day.

Legal Clerk Emily

My name is Emily, and I’m heading into my third and final year at UC Law. One of my biggest loves is travel, so if I hadn’t sold my soul to law school I’d probably want to be some kind of tour guide with a fancy European tour company. My plan was to hit 25 countries before age 25, but I’m only at 20 so I have some work to do. Aside from that, you’ll never meet a bigger Harry Potter fan than me.
The Brandery has been one of the most unique experiences I could ask for. The atmosphere surrounding start-up companies is just different—there is so much energy and creativity in the air. By the end of any conversation, your head is bouncing off the walls with ideas and you suddenly have the urge to start your own business. Greatest lesson learned? Get to know people who have big ideas for the world—they are the most interesting people you will ever meet, and maybe it’ll even inspire you to take your life in a new direction.
After over 20 years, I’m happy to be done with school forever come next May. I don’t want to practice law forever, but right now reaching the finish line and earning my J.D. is the main goal I have in sight. I think I can, I think I can!

Legal Clerk Brock

Brock Caley, 3L (third year) at UC Law and Computer Engineering degree from Purdue University. Hobbies are watching/playing sports (NBA, Golf, rooting for cursed and/or teams from Purdue and Cincinnati). Lifelong goal of being on Jeopardy, so I spend a lot of time watching it, playing Bar Trivia once a week, and trying to learn details about French Literature, Shakespeare, British Monarchs, and all of the other obscure jeopardy categories without spending the time to actually read them all.
I’ve loved getting to interact with the different companies at the Brandery, because we don’t get a lot of face-to-face experience with clients during law school. My favorite client interaction happened when I explained to the guys at Goodwipes what a provisional patent is, and see how excited they were to be able to utilize this legal tool that most people tend to view as a very boring subject. I want to continue working with startup companies in my career because the passion that these founders have for their products are unmatched in any other business atmosphere.
I plan on working as a patent attorney in the tech field, working with both software and hardware technologies. Because there are so many tech-focused startups, I also want to continue to help startups in the future with their Intellectual Property needs and be able to give them advice for utilizing the startup community.

Legal Clerk Luke

Greetings everyone! My name is Luke Klaiber, and this fall I’ll be starting my 3rd year at the University of Cincinnati College of Law. When I’m not buried up to my ears in law school work, you’ll likely find me rooting on the Cleveland Browns or the Columbus Blue Jackets.
My experience at the Brandery this summer has been awesome! Working with startups was a unique and rewarding experience. It’s been great getting to know the founders and their businesses and I can’t wait to see all of them kick ass on demo day.
I hope to use the many skills learned as an intern and take them forward into my legal career. One of the many lessons learned while working specifically with startups is how quickly their legal needs can change. Whether it’s making last-minute changes to an Operating Agreement, or even pivoting their business based on legal or market constraints, things are never boring and predictable.
It’s also been great getting to work in OTR this summer. As a suburbanite, there’s never enough time to explore all of the great neighborhoods that Cincinnati has to offer. OTR has definitely lived up to my expectations and I look forward to spending more time at the many bars and restaurants we’ve gotten to know over the past few months.

Legal Clerk Akua

Hi. My name is Akua Adu-Gyamfi. I am a rising 3L at the University of Cincinnati College of Law. I enjoy eating, working out and taking random naps. If I were not in law school, I would most likely be an entrepreneur of some sort. I have always enjoyed the idea of working for myself.
Working at the Brandery has been a great experience. I have learned a lot about managing client relationships. Learning to draft, understand and explain Operating Agreements to clients have been my greatest accomplishment here so far. Working at the Brandery has taught me not to be afraid to veer off a certain path to do something that I may feel is right for me (even if it doesn’t make sense to other people). Most of the founders at the Brandery had lives and careers, but they all decided to trust in their abilities, take a leap of faith and let go of those lives and careers to start businesses. For someone who wants to become an entrepreneur in the near future, that is very inspiring.
Working with startups has been really cool. They are so motivated and very hard working. Some of them barely sleep. Being around them challenges me to get my life together (haha!). After graduation, I hope to get a job in corporate law and learn as much as I can about businesses. I plan to eventually transition from law into business as an entrepreneur.

Brand in a Day 2016

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Brand in a Day is the second most important event for startups, in the Brandery class. During this day companies have the freedom to refocus, rebrand or even rename themselves, in a short amount of time. Due to this unique opportunity, the Brandery chooses not to release names or information about the company until after Brand in a Day. On Thursday of last week, the startups headed over to 84.51° to take over their massive fifth floor and work with their partnered marketing agency.

A defining characteristic of the Brandery and Cincinnati is the abundance of resources we can offer to startups. Our companies have an exclusive advantage of partnering one on one with world-class marketing and branding agencies from the area. The relationships the Brandery has cultivated within the Cincinnati community allows for these agencies and our companies to work together efficiently, effectively, and cohesively. The partnering agencies come ready to work, understand the time constraint and donate their time for events like Brand in a Day.

This year we had the talented minds and guiding hands from: SpiceFire, Interbrand, LPK, POSSIBLE, RDG, Rockfish, Barefoot Proximity, Saatchi & Saatchi X and Context Digital.

The partnered teams hit the ground running Thursday morning and utilized every inch of their workspace, at 84.51°. At the end of their 5-hour marathon, the startups and agencies presented their progress and vision for the future. One team changed its name while others shared that they were open to the idea and may work on changing it in the near future. While other teams developed a story that made their product or service easier to understand and more relevant.

Overall, the teams left 84.51° better positioned and looking energized. Some even continued their work and headed back to the agency’s office. As startups continue to work with their agencies, we are all excited to see where they end up on Demo Day!

To get a behind the scenes look of what Brand in a Day actually looked like, watch this video compiled and edited by our multi-talented Program Manager, Justin!

The P&G Fellowship: High-Potential Meets High-Powered

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One of the most interesting and unique aspects of The Brandery’s accelerator program is its focus on branding, design, and marketing. Leveraging the Cincinnati region’s marketing expertise has been a tremendous benefit to companies that have come through the accelerator, in many ways: access to world-class mentors, pro-bono work from some of the country’s leading branding agencies, and even the opportunity to partner with some of the area’s Fortune 500 companies (there are 10 of these Big Companies, or BigCos, as we call them). These partnerships are a great way for a startup to gain incredible traction and validation early in their development cycle, while building meaningful relationships with potential customers.

The Procter & Gamble Fellowship is one example of a partnership that The Brandery is able to provide to two high-potential startups that come through the accelerator. This program provides an incredibly unique opportunity for high-potential startups to advance their strategy and growth in a real-world environment. Past Brandery graduates who have been a part of this fellowship include Ahalogy, ChoreMonster, and AdAdapted.

“We’re thrilled about Procter & Gamble’s continued support of The Brandery and our startups,” Brandery Co-Founder Dave Knox said. “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.”

2015 Brandery members AdAdapted, a native advertising platform for mobile apps, participated in the fellowship last year, and launched their first pilot with P&G in December. Since then, they’ve brought a number of brands to their platform and are in the process of launching a second pilot. “With AdAdapted being in the AdTech industry, the ability to work directly with P&G was amazing,” Co-Founder Mike Pedersen had to say. “When it comes to advertising, they’re the gold standard. The fact that we were able to get mentorship and advice from people throughout the multiple areas of the organization was huge.”

If you’re a startup working in the area of Connected Products & Platforms, Brand Building & Commerce, and/or Big Data & Analytics, the Procter & Gamble Fellowship could be a great opportunity to grow your company even further. All Brandery applicants will be considered for the P&G Fellowship. Apply by April 29!

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.

InnovateHER is Coming to #StartupCincy

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We’re excited to announce our partnership with UpTech, Covington, Kentucky’s startup accelerator, to bring the Small Business Administration’s InnovateHER competition to the Cincinnati startup ecosystem!

InnovateHER is a pitch competition and business challenge that focuses on companies that primarily benefit women and families. If this competition is anything like others we’ve been to in town, these entrepreneurs will not disappoint. One startup will be chosen as Cincinnati’s nominee for the finals, in which 10 companies from around the country will pitch in Washington, D.C.

If you’re interested in pitching, we need your application by March 5th at 11:59 pm. You can read all the details about what is required as an applicant on the SBA’s website.

If you’re interested in attending, make sure you get your ticket as soon as possible. We have a feeling it’s going to be a great night!

Stay tuned to Twitter and the event page for announcements on who our awesome panel of judges will include and who has been chosen to pitch at the event. All the information you need and the application are on Eventbrite.

Reason #22: Other pitch events.

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While Demo Day is our flagship pitch event, there’s no shortage of opportunities for you to get in front of potential investors, partners, and users. In the past, our pitching tour has included the following events:

  • Agency Pitch Event – Startups pitch to our agency partners and more, focusing on how to add more tools to the toolbox when the agencies are pitching clients themselves. This leads to great partnerships and an even broader network for both parties.
  • Procter & Gamble Pitch Event – Startups pitch the marketers at nearby P&G headquarters to develop partnerships or corporate pilots. In the past, this has led to a partnership between Choremonster and Crest and Oral-B, among others. Not many other accelerators can get you a meeting with some of the biggest brands in the world.
  • Chicago & New York Investor Pitch Events – While we believe Cincinnati is the place to be when starting up, we also recognize that there are key investors in other cities. We caravan to Chi-town and NYC each year a few weeks after Demo Day to pitch to investors that weren’t able to make it to Cincinnati.
  • Community Pitch Event – Added in 2013, the Community Pitch Event is made to satisfy the interest of the local Cincinnati community in Brandery companies as with a focus on user acquisition. We noticed extremely high demand for Demo Day tickets and hated turning people away, so this is their opportunity to see the progress the teams made in four months. This one’s hosted at one of our favorite venues, Rhinegeist Brewery. Pitch events are better with beer.

Sound good? Apply to The Brandery now. Applications are reviewed on a rolling basis, so the sooner the better.

Have an idea that will change the media industry?

The Brandery, in conjunction with the Scripps Howard Foundation and the EW Scripps Digital division, are looking for a startup passionate about disrupting the news media industry.

Learn more about the partnership here.

Come share your business idea at the final Brandery Office Hours tomorrow from 4-6. RSVP here.

Apply now! The final Brandery deadline is May 1st.

General Assembly in Cincinnati!

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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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