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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

Startup Lesson from Max Levchin

Over on Quora, Max Levchin provided a great response when asked about his greatest lessons in entrpreneurship:

Among Max Levchin‘s lessons learned as a young entrepreneur, which are the greatest?

It’s usually better to have a cofounder than go it alone.

Being an entrepreneur is not about being in love with an idea, it’s about being in love with running a company.

Having a highly homogeneous (background, education, values, preferences, etc) very early team is better than not — cuts down on time-wasting arguments.

You can have successful teams where people hate but deeply respect each other; the opposite (love but not respect among team members) is a recipe for disaster.

If there is any doubt about hiring a candidate for your first 5-6 positions, there is no doubt — do not.

You cannot hire a cofounder.

Do not allow senior managers to develop long-term grudges against each other. You will have to arbitrate those later, a huge time sink.

All compensation information eventually becomes public, and usually eventually == very quickly.

In many cases “working from home” is not really working.

Most often, when someone wants to leave your company, you should let them. Chasing them with offerings of money and power messes up the incentives of others.

Intra-office romance is usually (but not always) bad news.

Figure out one thing each of your investors is genuinely really good at, and insist they help you with that. Among other things it will save you from their help in other areas.

Consider on occasion whether the adjective “relentless” applies to your team. If not, you probably need to step it up.

Leadership by example is the most effective type. If you expect the troops to crank through nights and weekends, better be there yourself, even if you aren’t actually involved in the task at hand. It’s a little irrational, but it inspires people.

One usually raises money on great story or great results. Raise before, or right after launching. Don’t plan to raise a few weeks after launch.

Having a large and complicated cap table is rarely a good idea. Few committed angels is better than $5k from everyone and their brother.

Board meeting should never be product strategy debates. Double true that for product tactics.

Have a cardboard box at board meetings where attendees must deposit their mobile devices at the start for the entire duration of the meeting. At the very least suggest that idea.

Serve food at board meetings.

If you have a cofounder, give them a board seat. If you can, keep one more for yourself, and leave it empty. You’ll need it later.

Cofounders (under usual circumstances) should have same amount of equity.

Raising money between May 20th and August 10th, and Nov 10th through January 15th is somewhat harder than during any other time of the year — many VCs vacation during those times.

Never, ever agree to participating preferred.

Redemption rights are actually OK (it seems to be an East Coast thing), if placed a bunch of years out. Startups shouldn’t be in a limbo for that long anyway.

If you are going for a big raise at a huge valuation, consider the resulting pref overhang (and its impact on future employee motivation) very carefully.

You are not designing for yourself, and shouldn’t be. Most people using the Web don’t understand (most of) what makes it work and don’t want to. Design for those people — there are many more of them than you

8 companies launch at 2011 Brandery Demo Day

Yesterday we launched our eight 2011 graduates at Demo Day.  In front of a crowd of over 350 investors, the companies did an amazing job and we could not be more proud.  The 2011 graduates included:

  • Choremonster
  • Keepio
  • Leap
  • Receept
  • RentShare
  • Roadtrippers
  • Spaciety
  • StyleZen

We received a great write-up from Tech Cocktail while Laura Baverman from the Cincinnati Enquirer provided live updates throughout at Enter Change.

Mentor Advice for Startups

“Be committed to your strategy but don’t fall in love with it. Go steady but don’t get married. You have to maintain the passion but retain enough objectivity to know when something isn’t working and a new direction is needed. Most startups go through several strategic shifts before they find the right formula.”

Michael S. Vanderwoude, Vice President and General Manager of Cincinnati Bell

Mentor Advice for Startups

“Always stay in learning and listing mode – Too many companies pitch to me and press forward with a sales pitch without pausing to listen to questions and heeding advice.”

“As Socrates said, “He who is wise admits he knows nothing,” and we all are learning together in this brave new world.  If you do not seem to be listening and open to feedback or pivoting, then you may never succeed.”

Bob Gilbreath, Chief Marketing Strategist at Bridge Worldwide

Mentor Advice for Startups

“Get your product/service right. Make it great/different by focusing heavily on the end-user. Start with a profitable business model – don’t scale without one.”

-Michael Stich, Chief Operating Office of Rockfish Interactive