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Sparking Educational Innovation

By Kathy Merchant, President/CEO of The Greater Cincinnati Foundation

At The Greater Cincinnati Foundation, we’ve been on a long path of supporting education in its many forms. But why fund a spot at The Brandery? How could an education-focused startup company help?

edSpark is a new addition to The Brandery’s business accelerator program funded by GCF to encourage educational innovation and entrepreneurship. When The Brandery’s 2012 class begins this summer, we want to ensure that one company whose mission is to design creative solutions to educational needs will be among the startups that will receive financing and access to the partners, mentors and resources typically reserved for start-ups in the consumer branding space.

Why? None of us has all the answers for how to better educate our children, and GCF wants to help develop the tools of the future in education.

The educational models of the past may not be what today’s children need to be successful in the 21st century. In fact, students will need less fact-memorization and more community and parental support, a great early childhood experience, and better training in critical thinking, math and science and interpersonal relationships. edSpark is one way to put resources into the private market so entrepreneurs can develop solutions to the complex issues facing education.

GCF has long supported the Strive Partnership, whose vision is to support the success of every child from cradle to career. The company chosen for the edSpark slot can address any of the five education goals that the Strive Partnership has developed from pre-kindergarten to post-secondary. These goals include that every child is:

Easy-peasy, right? No way! But that’s why the opportunity in this area is so great, and we already know that there are entrepreneurs out there willing to take this on. Once accepted, a startup with an educational focus will receive special help through education-oriented mentors and advisors in addition to the other benefits of a regular Brandery startup.

We’re eager to see what type of innovation will be developed from edSpark, and we hope you will apply. Applications are due May 15 with early-admission decisions being made on May 1. Startups focused on education initiatives should apply through the standard application process at brandery.org.

Office Hours

Applications for the next Brandery class are now live, so we’re hosting multiple “office hours” to help applicants get to know The Brandery a bit better.  This will give founders and startups a chance to meet the folks behind The Brandery and introduce themselves beyond just their applications.  Several founders from our first two classes of companies will be in attendance, so you’ll can get their first hand experience.

If you have been thinking of applying for the 2012 Brandery class and joining one of the top 10 startup accelerators in the country, then we would love to meet you in person.  If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact Brandery General Manager Mike Bott at mike@brandery.org.

Cincinnati Office Hours


  • WHO:  Startup Founders & Entrepreneurs who want to apply to The Brandery

  • WHEN: Tuesday April 3 from 5:00 PM- 7:00 PM

  • WHERE: Brandery 1411 Vine St, Cincinnati, OH 45202

  • WHAT: Register at http://branderyapril3.eventbrite.com

Virtual Office Hours


  • WHO:  Startup Founders & Entrepreneurs who want to apply to The Brandery

  • WHEN: Tuesday April 17 from 5:00 PM- 8:00 PM

  • WHERE: Online more details to come

  • WHAT: Register at http://branderyvirtual.eventbrite.com

Indianapolis Office Hours


  • WHO:  Startup Enthusiasts, Founders & Entrepreneurs

  • WHEN: Week of April 23 (Date/Time TBD)

  • WHERE: Indy – more details to come

  • WHAT: The Brandery’s take on “Why Branding is Essential to Startup Success”

Brandery in WSJ

As recently highlighted in the Wall Street Journal, marketing guidance for start-ups is growing and offering a range of new programs promising to provide start-ups with better access to traditional ad agencies and major marketers. “Incubator” programs such as the Brandery pair start-up entrepreneurs with mentors from larger, established companies like P&G and Landor. The Brandery is open to early-stage entrepreneurs around the country seeking marketing and branding advice as they work to get their business ideas off the ground. Start-ups usually focus on the technology not how they brand themselves. The Brandery is there to help the start-ups sell their brand and fill this gap in their business model. Read more about big firms mentoring start-ups and the Brandery at http://ow.ly/9YITF<http://t.co/NfRfcDqM>.

Brandery in Entrepreneur Magazine

A strong brand can set you apart from the competition and lead you to success.This month in Entrepreneur Magazine, the Brandery is being featured as place to help businesses identify what differentiates them from their competition. You sometimes need an outsider’s perspective on how to build your identity and The Brandery gives startups just that. Startups in the accelerator program are paired up with brand marketers, designers, researchers and 8-10 mentors with related expertise. Read more about The Brandery and how branding can help you at http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/223127#

Startup Bus Feedback Needed!

Mike Bott here from The Brandery, and I need your help.

We’re flying down I-75 in Cincy Startup Bus on our way to Nashville, and we need feedback on our business idea.  When we arrive at SXSW in Austin, we’re going to be pitching against buses from all over the US + Mexico City.  Here’s the ask: read our concept below and comment on this blog or tweet your thoughts to @SimplyDoneCo. The Startup Bus company with the most feedback will get a boost towards the Finals.

Problem: I should know, but I don’t. There are firsts in everyone’s life. Everything is under control, and then you find yourself in a situation that’s completely foreign.  The stress and discomfort of not being exactly sure what you should do next is palpable.  A few examples:

-       planning a wedding,

-       starting a business (or a StartupBus business!),

-       buying your first house,

-       having your first child or getting a pet.

You feel like you should know how to proceed, but you are wrought with doubt and a nagging feeling. Uncertainty overshadows the excitement of the event.

Solution: By building a brand around providing credible, time-based, personalized guides, SimplyDone.co will help you feel more confident about your knowledge, selections and planning for that something you’ve never experienced before.  To make the most of the experience, you’ll have a simple timeline you can use to reign in the big day, chalked full of expert advice, user generated content (ie, check out how someone else did it), and social integrations to help you easily get feedback from your friends and followers.

How do we make money? By combining revenue streams from local vendor referrals, national retailers and an overlay of LivingSocial’s daily deals, SimplyDone.co makes purchase decisions easier for those experiencing life’s firsts. We give local and national establishments opportunities to super-target those who are looking for their goods or services.  “Right place, right time” makes all parties involved winners!

So what do you think?

Tweet to @SimplyDoneCo or reply to this post.

Thanks!

Leap is Live!

Congrats to 2011 Brandery Alums James Dickerson, Ryan Tinker and Nick Cramer, the three co-founders of Leap on the launch of their iPhone app today!  Awesome work, guys!

“Leap lets you create challenges with your friends and compete by snapping photos and earning points.  Whatever your interests are, there is a challenge that you can create on Leap to help you reach your goals, motivate your friends to try new things, eat healthier meals, or get the most out of your Friday night.  Leap comes with filled with fun challenges from Hipster Hunt, where you compete by snapping photos of hipsters in your city, to Breakfast Champion, a simple challenge to make sure you eat the most important meal of the day.”

Go download Leap at the App store and start competing with your friends today.

Leap is Live!

Congrats to 2011 Brandery Alums James Dickerson, Ryan Tinker and Nick Cramer, the three co-founders of Leap on the launch of their iPhone app today!  Awesome work, guys!

“Leap lets you create challenges with your friends and compete by snapping photos and earning points.  Whatever your interests are, there is a challenge that you can create on Leap to help you reach your goals, motivate your friends to try new things, eat healthier meals, or get the most out of your Friday night.  Leap comes with filled with fun challenges from Hipster Hunt, where you compete by snapping photos of hipsters in your city, to Breakfast Champion, a simple challenge to make sure you eat the most important meal of the day.”

Go download Leap at the App store and start competing with your friends today.

Brandery Office Hours at SXSW

Ever since Twitter received a much needed boost in visibility at the festival, SXSW Interactive has become an annual launching pad for aspiring startups.  This year, The Brandery has decided to join in the fun as we host our first-ever “Office Hours” at this year's SXSW.  At Office Hours, we wanted to give potential applicants the opportunity to meet many of the folks that make The Brandery a top 10 startup accelerator.  Since our mentors and partners are from across the country, SXSW is the perfect venue to come together in one place and host this type of event.

Thus on Sunday Afternoon of SXSW Interactive, we are going to host Office Hours at the #SxCincyHaus.  This is a chance for us to meet face to face with the companies who are applying to The Brande

ry.  Last year over three quarters of our companies relocated to Cincinnati for The Brandery so we know how important it is for founders to feel comfortable with the program.  To help with that, we will have our mentors, as well as past graduates at Office Hours to answer any and all questions that founders might have.  We will also share some of the things that make The Brandery unique, especially our thematic approach around design and marketing, as well as our corporate partnerships with leading marketers like Procter & Gamble.

We hope to see you there.


  • WHO:  Startup Founders & Entrepreneurs who want to apply to The Brandery

  • WHEN: Sunday, March 11 from 2 – 4 PM CST

  • WHERE: #SxCincyHaus at 711 San Antonio St, Austin TX

  • WHAT: Register at http://branderysxsw.eventbrite.com/
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ChoreMonster gets Funded!

Congrats to Brandery Class of 2011 alums Chris Bergman and Paul Armstrong for getting funded!  Their business, ChoreMonster, received $350,000 in funding from CincyTech and private investors.  With new developer and fellow Brandery alum Kevin Pfefferle, ChoreMonster looks forward to making chores fun for both kids and parents alike.  Read more about ChoreMonster here.

ChoreMonsters receive funding.
Paul Armstrong, left, and Chris Bergman, are co-founders of ChoreMonster. They’re pictured here with monsters Frank Rumpnoodle, assistant vice associate junior manager (purple); and Phil Dustrumble, beginner dust collector (yellow).

Brandery hires GM

After a little over a year and a half and two classes through the Brandery’s start-up accelerator, it was time to bring on a full-timer.  We’re happy to welcome Mike Bott to the Brandery as our first General Manager!  Mike has a blend of brand and product management experience from his time at Procter & Gamble, Match.com, AOL and multiple startups that will certainly benefit the future Brandery companies and alums.  For more information on the next evolution of the Brandery, read more here.

We are hiring a General Manager for The Brandery

With the tremendous growth of  The Brandery over the last 18 months, we have decided that it’s time to bring on a full-time General Manager for our program.  This role is going to be at  the epicenter of the Cincinnati startup community work and we are looking for someone who wants to make a lot of great things happen.

If you are interested, you can apply for the job on Startuply.  We’ll be moving fast to fill the role so don’t delay.

General Manager – The Brandery

The Brandery (brandery.org) is a nonprofit which aims to grow Cincinnati’s entrepreneurial community and our national reputation as a Consumer Marketing Hub.  The Brandery takes a thematic approach by focusing on consumer oriented startups and leveraging our region’s strength in marketing, branding, and retail.

The Brandery is predominantly focused on a 3 month long Startup Accelerator that takes place annually in August through October.  Started in 2010, the program has graduated 14 startups from its’ first two classes including Giftiki, VenturePax, RentShare, Roadtrippers and Choremonster.  In a short time, the program has achieved international attention, being named by Kauffman as one of the top 10 accelerators in the country and invited to be a charter member of the TechStars Network.

As The Brandery enters 2012, it’s time to make sure that we build upon the success of these past two years.  With that, The Brandery will be hiring a full-time General Manager who can help fully realize the potential of the program.  We are looking for someone that has a true passion for startups, technology, and the potential of Cincinnati. This will be a person who wants to jump headfirst into Cincinnati’s growing startup ecosystem and really make a lasting impact in our community.

The General Manager will be asked to wear many hats at The Brandery.  These responsibilities include:


  • Coordination of The Brandery Accelerator program including the application process and Demo Day

  • Running day-to-day operations of The Brandery (ie event planning, coordinating scheduling, communication with service providers, etc)

  • Organizing Brandery events in the community (hackathons, guest speakers, workshops)

  • Maintaining communications with the community online via our blog, twitter, Facebook and media

  • Track the impact of The Brandery and our graduates in job creation and other measurements

  • Helping our graduates recruit and hire great employees (and sometimes even find co-founders)

  • Outreach to universities, entrepreneurs and startups nationwide for application to The Brandery

  • Empowering students and others to join (or found their own) Cincinnati startups

  • Organizing The Brandery fundraising, financial tracking and financial reporting to supporters

An ideal candidate should:


  • Value mentoring

  • Enjoy meeting people and helping build a community

  • Possess technical ability sufficient to manage spreadsheets, wikis, blogs, etc.

  • Possess communication/expression ability sufficient to keep our community updated with coherent concise text

  • Be comfortable with a job requiring the diversity of high-level and low-level tasks described above

  • Be very, very, very organized

  • Share the values of our team and a 20 year vision for building Cincinnati’s startup community