The Brandery's New Accelerator "Deal": $50,000 Per Company


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.

Alums Raise Rounds in Q1

With just a few months having passed since Demo Day, we’re extremely proud of the progress that has been made by our alums. 8 of the 9 startups that presented at Demo Day in October have raised capital, many have created jobs, and they are all representing The Brandery and Cincinnati well. Here are two who’ve announced they have a little extra money in the bank:


A B2B solution for client requests, Sqrl, has taken off tremendously since they graduated from The Brandery. They started as a dark horse (or, um, squirrel), but they were able to build their team, adjust their vision, and finish strong by October. Co-founder Craig Baldwin recently detailed their experience at The Brandery in a guest post on Nibletz.
Sqrl just closed their seed round of $550k, led by CincyTech and Hyde Park Venture Partners. You can read more about their funding success in TechCrunch.


Donde, a mobile locator for retail brands, has also recently closed their seed round of $915k. They’ve started operating from both Cincinnati and Vancouver, and will soon be in New York City. Their round includes investments from Full Stack, Chicago Ventures, and Mercury Fund. You may remember Donde from when they were awarded the Empower MediaMarketing Disruptive Media Fellowship or when they snagged the top prize of the Cincinnati Innovates competition.

Stay tuned for more exciting news from our alums. We’re always updating the In the News page with the latest.

P.S. – we’re officially accepting applications for our 2014 class! You can see the rundown of the events here and and apply here.

Demo Day 2013 and Beyond


On Wednesday, we held our fourth annual Demo Day at the Aronoff’s Jarson-Kaplan theater in downtown Cincinnati. About 430 investors, mentors, agency partners, community supporters, friends, and family packed the house to see the immense progress that the companies have made in just four months.

It was a beautiful setting to celebrate the hard work of the teams. The Jarson-Kaplan theater’s ambience set the focus on the startups from the beginning. Excitement buzzed in the lobby as attendees waited to hear the newest disruptors present their products to the world. The professionalism of the Aronoff’s crew, our tech friends at Pebble Creek, and catering from Busken, Vonderhaars, and Daisy Mae’s Market made for a great morning from start to finish.

Brandery GM Mike Bott kicked off the morning with background on The Brandery, highlighting the unbelievable growth “up and to the right” of this class of startups— on their keg consumption.

They may play hard, but we have also never seen a class so strong at The Brandery. 8 of the 9 startups were able to generate revenue by Demo Day, which is an absolutely tremendous accomplishment in four months. The pitches were representative of that hard work, with beautifully designed decks and perfect delivery on the part of the presenters.

Attendees were encouraged to share their reactions to the pitches on Twitter, and we got some overwhelming responses.

There’s already been some press about the event, including the Cincinnati Enquirer and the Business Courier.
Right as Demo Day began, the Brandery grads’ portfolio pages went live on our site. You can get overviews of each startup as well as contact information on their respective pages, here.

But Demo Day was never the finish line for the nine startups in our fourth accelerator session.

Yes, Demo Day on Wednesday was their first big step, but now the training wheels are off. On Thursday, the startups had their final official meeting of the program with Mike Bott. “Now the real roller coaster begins,” he said.
Until now, the startups have been in the safe environment of The Brandery, using each other as support and motivation. Now, some of them will return home, some will stay, but the program is officially over. No more hard deadlines, workshops, or speakers.
But while the day-to-day scheduling for the startups is over, they are welcome to work out of The Brandery for free for the next 8 or more months as they transition. Mentoring will still be provided, and we’ll continue to coach them whenever needed. The companies will stay in touch with most of their rockstar teams of mentors and agency partners as well.
If you haven’t met them already, we have the perfect occasion for you: our first Community Pitch Event, open to all, will be on Tuesday at Rhinegeist.

We’re more than confident that these nine teams will do big things. You’ll be hearing from them soon.

And to the 2013 class, thank you for your hard work. Thank you for helping to “Startup Cincy.” We know you’ll make us proud.