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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!

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!

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!

2016 Applications open on February 1!

It’s that time of year!

We’re here on the blog this morning to officially announce that applications for The Brandery’s 2016 accelerator program will open on Monday, February 1st.

This might be a time when you are trying to figure out if The Brandery’s program is right for you, and what sets us apart from other accelerators. Check out this nifty infographic that we created to give you an overview of The Brandery program and our 2015 highlights!

Over the next few months, we’ll be posting a lot of content here to help you get a sense of what life at The Brandery is like. We’ll highlight our office space, Branderyhaus startup housing, our cool partners, what we look for in outstanding applications and so much more. And don’t forget to connect with us! We’re on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

If you have questions about the program or the application process, you can find contact information for our staff and founders on our website or you can email info@brandery.org.

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.



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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

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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.

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.

How To Stand Out When Applying To The Brandery

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[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.

Guest Post: Stop Building Features

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[Editor’s Note: This post was written by 2014 graduate Connor Bowlan. Connor and his co-founder, Rhett, originally were accepted to The Brandery with their fashion and beauty advice app, Lookit. Throughout the course of the program, their startup evolved to what is now: Cintric, a joint venture between Connor’s company and another startup in the program. You can read more about their journey through The Brandery in this recent Soapbox article.]

Features are one of the worst things a startup can build into an early-stage product.

Features distract the company. Startups find success in innovative solutions to big problems. These solutions form the core of products, and are where the customer finds value they’re willing to pay for. At an early stage, startups should be focusing all their efforts on finding the best version of their solution by iterating on their core product. Feature development distracts from this task.




In one of the earliest versions of our application “Lookit,” we had a little robot character that guided the user through the signup process. The robot even had animations that would progress with each letter the user typed for their name and password. Was it neat? Definitely. Is animating the registration fields spending time improving the core product? Definitely not.

Features distract the product.

When creating a product that’s new, one of the biggest challenges is crystallizing exactly what it is. This applies in both the minds of the team and the end users. The simpler the product, the easier it is to understand what it’s purpose is and how to best achieve it. Features add complexity, and complexity distracts from the core purpose of a product.




In a later build of “Lookit,” we experimented with gamifying the platform. We built a series of “trinkets” that users could win by contributing to the community and gambling in a slot-machine feature. Session time skyrocketed to an average of 14 minutes, but we weren’t solving the problem we had set out to. It drew users away from the core of the product, and away from where we were able to give the most value.

Features distract the user.

When you’re building something new, the end user will have to learn how to use your product. Adding features means the user has more learning to do before being able to draw value from the product and use it effectively.

In the second build of our application “Quack,” we tried to solve one of our user-experience problems by adding another feature. This feature did away with one of the core rules of our product in order to get around a relatively small issue. In doing so we completely confused the user by introducing a competing ruleset, and made them go through another permissions process, all to implement a feature that ended up not being enjoyable for them to use.

Features are often wasted.

Startups frequently change their core products in significant ways as development progresses. When the product changes, features that have been developed often don’t have a place anymore and must be scrapped.




There is a fully complete card-based version of “Lookit” sitting on a bitbucket server somewhere that will probably never see the light of day. It has voting, a gorgeous UI, face-detection, and quite a few more features. Ultimately though, none of those matter. They’re great bits of design and coding that had to be thrown out because the core product they were built on wasn’t strong enough.

Once a product has matured enough to where it’s solving a user’s problem in the most efficient way possible, then features can be introduced to make that process enjoyable for the user to engage with. This must be done slowly though, so as not to confuse or overwhelm the user.

This is where the CPO role really shines, as their job is not just to guide what the product is, but also to guide what the product isn’t.

Building a product without features can be difficult. In the early phase of a startup, it can be challenging to avoid getting carried away in an environment where the product roadmap is set in something more akin to clay than concrete. This is where the CPO role really shines, as their job is not just to guide what the product is, but also to guide what the product isn’t. A good CPO will aggressively maintain development focus on the core of the product, even when features might be exciting or easy to complete.

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At Cintric, we help developers build efficient mobile location services into their apps, from early stage startups that want to use location as a basis for their core experience, to large enterprises that wish to add location features to their existing and established apps. Cintric can be used to integrate rich location components that add a tremendous amount of value to the core of a product. Even including customizing experiences via demographic information and precise analytics of where users engage with different parts of the app.

If you’d like to chat about how Cintric can improve your mobile app with efficient and easy to setup location services, or you’d like to simply tell me why I’m wrong about features, contact me at connor@cintric.com.

Guest Post: Why Brands Need To Pay Attention To Wearables

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[Editor’s Note: This post, by COO of 2014 Brandery graduate Strap, Patrick Henshaw, originally appeared on Strap’s blog on September 22, 2014.]

With over 10 million wearable devices sold in 2014 alone, should brands start paying more attention to the wearables space?

Based on a recent Forrester report, 25% of American adults plan on buying a wearable within the next year. If Forrester’s data holds true, that would be an estimated 79 million wearables sold within the next year. To put that in perspective, only 64 million smartphones were sold in 2006. This was a year shy of the first iPhone Apple produced and sold beginning June 29th, 2007. (For a cool side story take a look at Time’s interactive timeline of the iPhone.)

We all know that Apple changed the smartphone landscape from being something clunky and difficult to use into something that a 3-year-old can pick up— and find out how to watch Barney on. Will the same hold true for the wearable industry? Will Apple maintain their ability to lead thought and change in the wearable market as they have for years now in the mobile space?

Insiders report that Apple is readying supplies to sell 50 million Apple Watches in 2015. According to another report, Bank of America and Merril Lynch predict Apple will sell 20 million watches. Personally, I think Apple Watch sales are going to be closer to the 10 million unit mark. If Forrester is correct and 25% of the 300 million iPhones users on the market today were to purchase the Apple Watch, they would sell 75 million of these wearables in 2015. Now my prediction that Apple sells 10 million Apple Watches in 2015 doesn’t seem like too daunting of a task.

Inevitably, wearable technology will provide brands an unseen ability to provide content that is of value to their potential (or current) customer.

So why do brands care about this? Or should they? While there has been no clear leader or front runner as a singular wearable device, marketers and brands should still start paying attention to these devices. Inevitably, wearable technology will provide brands an unseen ability to provide content that is of value to their potential (or current) customer. The Content Marketing Association even put out an article with four key opportunities for content marketers to really show true value to their intended consumers. The short version of the article portrays these points: 1) Changing methods of reading, 2) Re-inventing push notifications, 3) Augmented reality, and 4) More content and data creation.

There are a few challenges for marketers who want to start using this new medium for content: adoption, value, and privacy. Providing value is a must in marketing today. Long gone are the days of the one-sided consumer-to-brand relationship. Brands must provide value— and provide it continually— to gain traction and maintain customers while trying to minimize churn. At the forefront, though, privacy will still remain. It is going to be key for the players in the industry to have privacy at the utmost of importance – this will also, in turn, drive adoption.

The Bottom Line

Brands need to pay attention to wearables— because their customers are. If brands and marketers truly want to understand their customers, where to reach them, and how to provide better value to the content they are providing, then wearables and wearable trends are something that need to be at the forefront of their thoughts and decisions.

Read more of Patrick and the rest of the Strap team’s thought leadership on their blog.