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Build Your Best Brand in Cincinnati

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Prior to announcing our sharpened focus for 2017, I spoke with several of our closest mentors, investors, and supporters to share the news with them and get their thoughts. Overwhelmingly, their responses sounded something like the following:

“It’s about time.”
“What took you so long?”
“This is a no-brainer.”

While there are various reasons this focus didn’t happen sooner, we’re all excited about the new direction. In the minds of most everyone in The Brandery network, our decision to recruit and invest in digitally native vertical brands (DNVBs) and the retail/marketing tech companies that support them was a long overdue one. However, a lot of folks outside our network may be wondering why this is; after all, what’s so special about a midwestern city like Cincinnati compared to similar business ecosystems on the west and east coasts?

Cincinnati is BrandHUB USA

More than anywhere else in the country, businesses here are equipped to build better brands. It started with Fortune 500 companies like Procter & Gamble, Kroger, and Macy’s establishing their headquarters in downtown Cincinnati. For a long time, these powerhouses developed incredibly strong internal organizations devoted to understanding their consumers, and thus built tremendous brand loyalty. Over time, these professionals went on to build independent agencies, consulting firms, and think-tanks dedicated to consumer marketing and branding. Today, Greater Cincinnati is home to more than 200 consumer product companies and upwards of 60,000 industry professionals, as well as several globally-renowned agencies. Nowhere else in the country can you find more consumer branding expertise per capita than right here in Cincinnati.

When The Brandery started in 2010, our goal was to leverage this unique and unfair advantage in developing the next great tech-enabled startups. Since 2010, we’ve paired each of our startups with an elite branding agency located here. These are agencies comprised of highly-talented professionals working with globally-recognized brands one day – then working with the young & hungry startups within our cohort the next.

It doesn’t stop with our agency partnerships; data science and analytics firms like Quotient (formerly Coupons.com), 84.51, The Nielsen Company, and others have all chosen to operate in Cincinnati because of the wealth of talent and customers they can find here. Many of our mentors work within these organizations, providing our startups with an intimate, insider’s knowledge of consumer understanding.

To be clear, branding is only one part of the equation. After all, what good is a solid brand and great customers if you can’t reach them? Being located in Cincinnati means easy access to 25 of the largest metro regions, over half of all US manufacturing establishments, and half of the US population. This is a major reason why Amazon is building their $1.5 billion Prime Air hub here, and why major logistics operations are locating here every month. This growth is perfect for small and up-and-coming retailers who may not be selling in brick-and-mortar yet and appreciate the ability to ship their products out quickly and efficiently.

If you’re a startup building the next great consumer brand or tech to support these brands, Cincinnati is the best place you can be. With more than 60,000 branding, marketing, and design experts within reach, The Brandery will help you accelerate your startup to success.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

7. Smart Home Meetup

8. Search Engine Optimization Meetup

9. Wearable Developers Meetup

10. Node.js Meetup

11. Startup Finance & Accounting

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

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

Resource Roundup: How to get free legal advice for your startup

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Part of the (not fun) process of starting your own business is getting all the legal kinks hammered out: formation, patents, capitalization tables, employment, the list goes on. Your small team trying to tackle it yourselves seems risky; hiring a lawyer seems daunting. Some of the legal experts in town have an initiative to make it easier on you: free legal advice to better your business. We sat down with Lewis Goldfarb, University of Cincinnati College of Law professor and Director of the Entrepreneurship and Community Development Clinic, to learn more about the event.

Q. We hear UC and Duke Energy want to support small businesses. What’s this event you have brewing?
A. As a result of a collaboration between the College’s Entrepreneurship and Community Development Clinic and the Duke Energy Law Department, 15 lawyers from Duke and the local legal community will staff tables in the lobby of the College, offering free legal consultations of up to 30 minutes for each area to local business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs.

Q. What kind of businesses can attend?
A. We welcome anyone with business-related legal questions, whether you are an existing business owner or an aspiring one.

Q. If I go, who will I be meeting with?
A. After checking in at the front desk, you will be directed to an attorney with expertise in the area of law you choose. We will have attorneys with expertise in contracts, business startups, litigation, real estate, tax, labor & employment, environmental, non-profit, trademarks, copyrights, and patents.

Q. What kind of questions can I ask them?
A. Any questions regarding legal issues in any of the above legal areas. Examples:

  • How can I protect my product design/logo?
  • Do you have any advice on how to handle an employment issue?
  • Do you think I should pursue a patent on my invention and how do I do that?
  • What types of employment policies would you suggest?
  • How do I go about organizing a tax-exempt non-profit business?
  • What are my contract rights against a landlord/vendor/customer who does not meet their contractual obligations?
  • Are there things I can do to get my company ready for possible outside investment?
  • What is the appropriate legal structure for my business?
  • What types of contracts should I consider for my particular business?
  • What are my legal rights under a designated contract or contract provision?

Q. Why are you doing this?
A. We want to help local businesses and contribute to the economic revitalization of the Cincinnati area – that’s in everyone’s best interest. We realize that legal services can be costly to a small business on a tight budget, so we offer free help during this event. For legal issues requiring a longer representation, business may be eligible for the free legal services offered by UC’s Entrepreneurship and Community Development Clinic.

Q. Okay, I’m in. What are the details?
A. The event is being held on October 9th from 3:00PM-7:00PM at the UC College of Law (corner of Clifton Avenue and Calhoun Street). Individuals may pre-register by contacting Lori Strait at 513-556-0117 or lori.strait@uc.edu and choosing an available time slot and the area of law in which they desire legal advice. Pre-registration is encouraged; however, walk-in registration is available up to 6:15 PM on the day of the event. Details regarding the event can be found at
http://law.uc.edu/ecdc..

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