Procter & Gamble To Offer Up To Two Fellowships to Brandery Companies in 2015

As an expansion of P&G’s continued support of the Cincinnati startup ecosystem, two fellowships will be offered to Brandery companies in the 2015 accelerator cohort. As with our other fellowships, any startup that applies will be considered for the fellowship. Here are the benefits:

1. Direct access to P&G mentors & experts who will help the startup better prepare for solution driven engagements with potential large customers.

2. Active connections with P&G brand teams and executives to inform solution design and go-to-market strategy.

3. Pre-commitment to a paid in-market pilot with a P&G brand as part of The Brandery experience.

4. Opportunities to engage with global senior executives on business strategy.

Specifically for this fellowship, The Brandery and P&G are looking for startups that excel in one of three core areas: Connected Products and Platforms, Seamless Brand Building & Commerce, or Big Data & Analytics. You can read more about these three categories here.

“We’re thrilled about Procter & Gamble’s continued support of The Brandery and our startups. If you’re a startup looking to sell to marketers or work with CPG companies, there is not going to be a better opportunity to change the trajectory of your business.”

–Dave Knox, Co-founder, The Brandery

Procter & Gamble has been an active supporter of The Brandery, including hosting startup pitch events at P&G for brand tech companies, participating in Brand Fusion, helping lead workshops (like Growth Hack Day) and mentoring startups.

P&G’s fellowship offering is going to directly impact startups in our accelerator program, adding even more fuel to the fire for #StartupCincy.

The final deadline to apply to The Brandery is April 16. Apply now.

Beautiful Design, Advanced Tech, Fantastic Delivery: Hack OTR is in the books!

7 teams of hackers, designers, and marketers came together for 24 hours over the weekend our very first hackathon, HackOTR. The participants sat in on talks with startup founders, pitched their concepts, hacked the night away, and then presented their final products at the end of the 24 hours. The winners were:

- Sideline, winner of 2014 Brandery graduate Strap’s “side hack” for Best Use of Strap. Sideline is a wearable app that helps referees and fans keep track of sporting events in real time. The team won brand new Pebble smart watches and Strap t-shirts.

- Pet Plates, winner of Petbrosia “side hack” for Best App for Pet Parents. Pet Plates is a site for pet parents to submit their best pet food recipes— think AllRecipes for pet owners. The team won a $250 cash prize, Petbrosia t-shirts, and Petbrosia pet food trials for up to 10 people.

- Informed, a site to aggregate different types of media recommendations from people that know you, and Staq, a mobile app that helps you manage and pay off all of your credit cards in one place. The founders of Frameri were so inspired by the talent on these teams that they decided to do an impromptu prize: glasses or sunglasses for each member of the teams ($200 value each).

- Habitable, winner of “Overall Best Hack,” sponsored by Cincinnati Bell and Cintrifuse. Habitable is a website and app that helps millennials find the best job for them based on cultural inputs such as dress code, work styles, and relationships among employees. They won new Dell laptops and 3 months of office space in Cintrifuse.

“I had a great time judging HackOTR. There was a very impressive level of quality of the hacks across the board. Habitable won because they had a consistent level of quality all around— ideation was good, their pitch was good, and execution was good. They had a great UX.”

- Connor Bowlan, CEO of Cintric

Other sponsors included Brandery graduates Roadtrippers, Venn, and Modulus, as well as overwhelming community support from Chick-fil-A, Red Bull, Daisy Mae’s Market, KIND, Holtman’s Donuts, Happy Belly, Coffee Emporium, 3CDC, Fusian, Insomnia Cookies, and FastSigns. These are the kinds of things that are fueling the Cincinnati startup ecosystem, and we couldn’t be prouder to be involved.

We had such a blast this weekend that we’ve already set a date for the next HackOTR: August 7 and 8, 2015. Save the date and keep checking hackotr.com for updates.

InnovateHER is Coming to #StartupCincy


We’re excited to announce our partnership with UpTech, Covington, Kentucky’s startup accelerator, to bring the Small Business Administration’s InnovateHER competition to the Cincinnati startup ecosystem!

InnovateHER is a pitch competition and business challenge that focuses on companies that primarily benefit women and families. If this competition is anything like others we’ve been to in town, these entrepreneurs will not disappoint. One startup will be chosen as Cincinnati’s nominee for the finals, in which 10 companies from around the country will pitch in Washington, D.C.

If you’re interested in pitching, we need your application by March 5th at 11:59 pm. You can read all the details about what is required as an applicant on the SBA’s website.

If you’re interested in attending, make sure you get your ticket as soon as possible. We have a feeling it’s going to be a great night!

Stay tuned to Twitter and the event page for announcements on who our awesome panel of judges will include and who has been chosen to pitch at the event. All the information you need and the application are on Eventbrite.

Introducing HackOTR!

You know who’s awesome? Our interns are awesome. You know what’s even more awesome? Our past interns teaming up with our new intern to plan a hackathon at The Brandery.

Michael, Brian, and Ian, our interns from fall 2014, are spearheading a 24-hour hackathon at The Brandery from March 6 at 5 pm to March 7 at 5 pm.

HackOTR is an inclusive community hackathon. We’re looking for excited individuals who want to contribute their skills in design, programming, product development, and marketing to solve problems and have fun. Anyone is welcome to register! You do not need to be a programmer, be in a startup, or have previous experience with hackathons.

Prizes will be offered to teams with the best hacks at the end of the hackathon. Hacks will be judged on the following criteria: creativity, usefulness, usability, and delivery. HackOTR will feature judges from The Brandery’s network of experienced mentors and experts, as well as from our sponsors. The mentors offer significant experience with startup ventures, product development, and technology.

For inquiries about sponsorship, please send a message to our Brandterns.

Register for the hackathon here.

How To Stand Out When Applying To The Brandery


[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.

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.

Guest Post: Stop Building Features


[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.


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.

Brandery Graduates Dominate Forbes' 30 Under 30 Lists

Yesterday, Forbes released their lists of the top 30 game-changers in each industry for 2015. The lists include the co-founder of Instagram, the President of Y Combinator, and, oh, and eight Brandery graduates. They represent four companies, three of which are still operating. Here are our people Forbes chose:

1. Eric Elias, William Weibe, William Blum, and Nathan Heidt, Lagoon, Class of 2014

Eric and the Lagoon team are on a mission to empower households and cities to control water usage. In addition to The Brandery, the Lagoon team was also accepted to a hardware accelerator, Highway1, where they developed their product, nailed down about manufacturing, and learned about distribution. Lagoon also won SXSW Eco’s Startup Showcase in the Clean Web category. You can watch Eric pitch SXSW here.

2. Jay Finch, Class of 2012

Jay came through The Brandery back in 2012. He’s moved on from his venture at the time, but his legacy lives on! He’s now the Senior Advisor of Domestic Finance for the U.S. Treasury. Jay runs the MyRA program at the Treasury Department, which offers government alternative independent retirement plans. Before his life on The Hill and at The Brandery, Jay worked at Goldman Sachs where he started two business units, each with $2.5 billion in assets under management.

3. Konrad Billetz, Frameri, Class of 2013

We met Konrad fresh out of Notre Dame’s MBA program in 2013 as he and his team were beginning to develop the first interchangable eyewear company. Now, Frameri is headquartered right down the street from our office and continues to receive accolades from major publications as they scale. Earlier this year, Konrad won Steve Case’s Rise of the Rest pitch competition in Cincinnati.

4. Rujul Zaparde and Kevin Petrovic, FlightCar, Class of 2012

Earlier this year, Rujul and Kevin took the title of youngest entrepreneurs to ever raise $20 million, so we’re not surprised to see their names on the list. They interviewed at The Brandery the day after their high school graduation and never looked back. We can’t wait to see what cities FlightCar will land in next!

Also on the list were Brandery mentor Adam D’Augelli (True Ventures) and speaker Mattan Griffel (One Month), who presented to the Class of 2014 on Growth Hacking. We’re honored to have been surrounded by such great talent across the board!

Congratulations to all the 30 Under 30 winners. Keep doing work!

Guest Post: Why Brands Need To Pay Attention To Wearables


[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.

The Startup Food Pyramid

[Editor’s Note: In the final days of his internship, our Marketing Brandtern, Brian Back, crafted the startup food pyramid based on his observations of the startups over the past few months. We, by no means, endorse this diet. Simply put, don’t try this at home.]

As you may or may not know, the USDA did away with the traditional food pyramid a few years ago, which we had all come to know and love as our visual representation of proper dietary guidelines. It has now been replaced by a colorful icon called “My Plate” which is split into several nutritional sections and formatted on a dinner plate. Unfortunately for USDA officials, “My Plate” is not something that startups can relate to. The main reason being that those who work for startups don’t eat on plates. They are more likely to be eating out of a styrofoam container, on top of a keyboard, or hovered over a garbage can, praying that none of their prized burrito falls out of the tortilla and into a trash­-filled abyss.

To solve this disconnect between startups and dietary guidelines, a new “Startup Food Pyramid” was created. This food pyramid was based off observations of startups at The Brandery and the food which they consumed the most of and held in the highest regard. The Startup Food Pyramid is not recommended for anyone other than those who work at startups, or have a seriously flawed view on what the standard of one’s personal health should be.

Base Level

Pizza, Craft Beer, Coffee, Indian Food, Anything That Is Free

This is the lifeblood of startups. Without this food, they would wither away with nothing left but a plaid shirt, tight-­fitting jeans and some Chukka boots. The pizza doesn’t have to be great, the Indian food can be ‘okay’ (especially when the buffet happens to be unlimited), but if you dare present these startups with anything other than a hand-crafted cold one, you better strap yourself in for a judgement-filled ride of shame. With the exception of beer, the fundamental rule for startups around The Brandery is that if the food is free, you devour it, because who knows when you’ll scrape together enough money for your next meal.

Second Level­

Doritos, Gummy Bears, Flamin Hot Cheetos, Goldfish, Donuts

Have you ever been to a farm and watched the cows graze on the grass all day long? The items on the second level are the grass, and the cows are the people who work at startups. This food can not be on the first level because it does not provide enough sustenance for even scraggliest of startups to survive. Do not be mistaken, this food serves a very important purpose! The items on this level give quick bursts of energy throughout the day for those struggling to stay awake. These are also great items to have around for those who like to “stress eat.” Tensions can be high at times around The Brandery and nothing takes the edge off quite like eating an entire family­-sized box of Goldfish over the course of fifteen minutes.

Third Level­

Fruit, Vegetables

Simply put, these are not of the highest priority. It’s not that startups don’t like fruits and vegetables, they just don’t give the same bang for your buck as some of the other food in the pyramid. Maybe once and a while you’ll have an apple, possibly a salad, but to have something green with every meal is out of the question.


Anything over 7 dollars

Startups consume the food in this section sparingly. If the food they’re eating is this expensive, they better be out getting lunch with an investor. Seven dollars is too much for a meal when that same money could be used to feed a team of developers for a week.

Coolest Place To Shop This Holiday: The Cincy Startup Store


If you’re still looking (like me) for the perfect gifts for your friends and family who have everything, look no further. We couldn’t be more excited for the very first Cincy Startup Store, coming to our neighborhood in just a couple weekends. Not only is this is a phenomenal excuse to visit Simple Space, but check out the Cincinnati startups you’ll be able to support when you shop:

  • Kapture – audio-recording wristbands
  • PlusBlue – custom-engraved, mobile battery packs
  • Frameri – glasses with interchangeable frames and lenses – 2013 graduate of The Brandery

Visit the Cincy Startup Store Facebook event for more details. Hope to see you there!

Guest Post: 8 Similarities Between Rock Bands and Startups


[Editor’s Note: This post is part of a new blog series in which our graduates and partners share their perspectives on startups. Thanks to Eron Bucciarelli-Tieger, CEO and co-founder of MusicPlay Analytics, for this post. Prior to founding MusicPlay Analytics, Eron was the drummer of the platinum-selling rock band, Hawthorne Heights. Follow Eron on Twitter.]

There are dozens of startup analogies out there. It’s human nature to relate new stuff to old stuff. While I, like everyone else, know sports, I won’t fall into that cliche. It just so happens that the “stuff” I know most is music. Prior to founding the company I now run, I was a professional musician for ten years, so it’s only natural for me to view startup “stuff” through the lens of a musician. Since everyone likes their stuff presented in list form, I now present to you, “8 Similarities Between Bands and Startups”:

1 – Team Matters

People come together to form bands because they share a collective musical vision. With startups, it’s not much different. Instead of musical passion, it’s product vision. Regardless of the reason and situation, not having the right group of people can have dire consequences early on. Before record deals and funding can happen, everyone needs to pull their weight with little immediate reward. Not having the right people prevents you from creating a good product (or song). More importantly, not having committed people will lead to everything falling apart the second disaster strikes; your van breaks down in the middle of a poorly attended tour or your app doesn’t get accepted to the app store. Everyone has to wear multiple hats early on. You might be the singer, but you’re also the booking agent. You might be the CEO, but you’re also the head of marketing and HR. It’s all about talent and work ethic. If ever those two aren’t balanced properly, the band or company will fail.

2 – Starving Artist/Starving Entrepreneur

Seriously, what’s the difference? When you’re starting off, it doesn’t make a difference whether you’re writing a song or writing code – you’re not making any money (or very little). What matters is you’re chasing some sort of dream, and not eating regularly is simply a casualty of that pursuit. The best art comes out of a place of hardship. It’s only when you’re down and out that you really push yourself. Ever wonder how a band’s first album can be so good and their latest be such crap? Struggle = genius. Comfort = garbage. It’s only the truly gifted songwriters and businesses that are able to replicate this inspiration or find other inspiration with equal passion that end up having repeatable success.

3 – It’s All Legos

Writing a song or coming up with a business idea follow the same creative thought process as playing with those amazing plastic blocks as a kid. Both begin with an idea, it gets fleshed out and eventually released upon the world. Business planning can easily be substituted for jamming, hacking/iterating for recording and launching for distribution. Those are all different terms for the same process. A rose by any other name…

4 – Content Is King

A product is a product, (whether it’s a song or an app). That’s not a Dr Seuss limerick. As the creator of a song or a business, you get to dictate the terms under which your product goes to market. It’s only the ratio between desperation and buzz that leads to companies and bands getting good/bad deals (assuming the product is great). Labels and VC wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for you. It’s hard to invest in nothing and make money on it. Remember that.

5 – Pour Some… Money On Me

Startups need money to grow. Musicians need money to promote themselves. There are always a few exceptions in both worlds, but “Bootstrapping" and “Doing-It-Yourself” are synonyms and can only get you so far. At some point, you need money from an investor to take things to the next level (whatever that may be).

6 – All That Glitters Is (Not) Gold

Most startups fail, most bands fail. When I started my musical journey, only 1% of all CDs released sold more than 1,000 copies (in a year). Of that 1%, only a small handful were fortunate to sell 500,000+ copies (a measure of success at that time). These are somewhat antiquated metrics for success in today’s music environment, but the percentages closely mirror the percentage of companies receiving VC. In reality, securing funding doesn’t equal success, but not having funding most often leads to failure.

7 – Investment Does NOT Equal Success

Getting a record deal doesn’t guarantee sold out arena tours in your future. Likewise, VC doesn’t guarantee you’ll be the next Über or Facebook. Funding simply opens up new opportunities. It’s up to you to walk through those doors as they open. No one is giving out piggyback rides.

And lastly…

8 – Personnel

  • CEO is the lead singer (generally). They are the visionary, the creative director, and responsible for the company’s culture or the band’s gimmick. Sometimes, they’re just the public face.
  • CTO/CPO is the lead guitarist or songwriter. Without a good product, a company is going to fail. Without good songs, a band will fail.
  • COO is the drummer. Drummers and COOs are usually the ones holding things together (okay, I’m biased). 9 times out of 10, the drummer is the “business guy” in the band. They do all the work and get none of the credit.
  • The head of logistics/supply chain is the bassist. You never notice when everything is going alright, but when the bass player drops, out everyone panics. You don’t think about the ability to ship your product to market, but if that channel is severed you’ll freak out.
  • CMO is the rhythm guitarist. They’re great to have but they’re not always necessary when you’re starting up.

If you want to check out Eron’s company, go to musicplayanalytics.com. If you want to check out Eron’s biggest hit, Ohio Is For Lovers, download here.