How much funding do companies receive from The Brandery?

You will get $50,000 in seed funding, and value worth many times more throughout the entire program. The first $25k will be issued in exchange for a 6% equity stake in your startup. After completing six weeks of the program, you’ll receive the second $25k in the form of an uncapped convertible note.

We also provide your company with office space, consumer understanding, brand identity, legal support, and much more. Leading Cincinnati-based design firms (some of the best in the nation) offer free branding and visual identity guidance to each Brandery company, worth at least $25,000. Furthermore, at Demo Day you will get invaluable connections and advice from industry experts, angel investors, and venture capitalists. Starting in 2015, the amount of funding awarded to each startup will be increasing. Details coming soon.


What kind of companies do you accept into The Brandery?

The Brandery is looking for companies with whom we can be actively involved and help make the biggest impact. This may mean a company with just an idea, or it could be one already with customers or investors. The most important thing for us is a company that can scale, is focused on consumers, and sees the value of treating your startup as a brand. We feel we can add the most value to high-growth, technology-based opportunities working in Digitally Native Brands, Marketing Tech, Retail Tech, and Digital Commerce. We are not the right place for a startup in biotech, healthcare, IT services, restaurants, or consultancies. Likewise, if you feel that your company’s brand is something that will “just happen” and isn’t important, there are probably other programs better fitted for your business. Check out our portfolio to get a sense for what types of companies we’ve worked with thus far.


So, you only accept consumer oriented companies?

Nope. While the benefits of branding and design to a consumer internet or product company are quite apparent, business to business (B2B) and business to business to consumer (B2B2C) companies benefit tremendously from The Brandery experience. In fact, the first two startups to get funded from our 2013 cohort were B2B companies (Dónde and Sqrl). In 2014, about half the class had a business-to-business play. The Brandery sponsors and the reach of our network often end up netting a Brandery startup’s first customer.


Why Cincinnati? Isn’t Silicon Valley the only place for a start-up?

Successful startups do two things well: (1) build a product their users love, and (2) make sure the right people know about their product. These two things are functions of consumer understanding, great design and effective marketing – all strengths of Cincinnati. Named a Top 5 Consumer Marketing Region in the world, Cincinnati has one of the largest collections of brand and consumer marketing talent in the world. Cincinnati is home to 10 Fortune 500 Headquarters, including Procter & Gamble, Kroger, and Macy’s. In addition, the city boasts a strong presence of agencies and market research firms that focus on branding, marketing, advertising and design. If your startup is consumer focused, there is not a better place to grow your business. In fact, check out Entrepreneur.com calling Cincinnati a tech hub.


How do you compare to other startup programs?

The Brandery is a Global Accelerator Network (GAN) Member. Other programs, especially those part of GAN, have been incredibly helpful as we formed The Brandery. In fact, we consider those programs to be close partners and friends. We don’t think different startup programs as better or worse than each other, just different. For instance, we place a much greater emphasis on research, consumer marketing and brand building than other programs. Through our unique approach, we’ve been acknowledged as one of the top programs in the country by multiple publications. This is due in part to our approach of building brands, not just products, and the success our alums have had raising money and building their businesses.


Where are most of your companies from?

The Brandery’s goal is to attract the best startup in the world who want to build an amazing company and a powerful brand. Last year five of our ten companies were originally from Ohio. We had applicants from over 40 states and 40 countries. 30% of our applicants were international.

Here’s where our 2015 cohort called home:

AdAdapted – Ann Arbor, MI
Oros – Oxford/Cincinnati, OH
Benchmark Intelligence – Boulder, CO
JerseyWatch – Columbus, OH
Wyzerr – San Francisco, CA
Gild Collective – Cincinnati, OH
Urban Trials – Cincinnati, OH
Skip – San Francisco, CA
Bounde – Toronto, Canada
Casamatic – Cincinnati, OH


Do I have to be in Cincinnati for the entire 4-month program?

Yes. We feel that to get the full benefit out of The Brandery, you need to be in Cincinnati for the full 4-month period. Now this does not mean you can’t leave town from time to time, but we expect Brandery entrepreneurs to be part of the community and attend the sessions we’ve arranged with VC’s, industry experts and mentors. Running a start-up is a major time commitment and you need to show that you are willing and able to participate fully in The Brandery.


Do I have to stay in Cincinnati when the program ends after 4 months?

One of our goals is to grow the entrepreneurial community of Greater Cincinnati. We think that for the same reasons you choose The Brandery in the first place, you will want to maintain a presence here in Cincinnati afterwards. Ultimately, we want to see you and your business to succeed. The majority of our companies have made the decision to build their business here, but it’s not a requirement.


What else does The Brandery provide?

During the program, we’ll provide you with seed funding, an amazing group of mentors, collaborative office space, legal assistance, and marketing support. Essentially we’ll help you get everything covered without eating into your valuable resources. We want you to focus on building a great brand and product, while we will worry about all the little stuff.

You’ll have the opportunity to pitch press, angel investors, brand marketers and leading venture capitalists at Demo Day. In 2013 we had over 500+ attendees for the event, which was held at the Aronoff Center for the Arts’ Jarson-Kaplan Theater. You will also have opportunities to participate in a number of other pitch events. In previous years, additional events have included:

  • P&G Pitch Day: Pitch for pilot opportunities with nearly 100 P&G marketers.
  • Agency Pitch Day: Pitch pilot opportunities to industry leading creative agencies.
  • Community Pitch Day: Pitch to community members with a focus on acquiring more users.
  • Chicago and New York Pitch Events: Travel to Chicago’s 1871 or New York’s SoftBank Capital to pitch to 50-100 additional seed-stage investors.

The Brandery offers great office space in a newly renovated building in the Historic Over-The-Rhine neighborhood in Cincinnati, OH. We’ll let you office out of The Brandery until the next cohort of companies begin (roughly 1 year).


What are we looking for in a team?

Your team is critically important. Generally, we want a full-time, dedicated team of 2-4 founders who can bring an idea to life. We look for three skillsets: a business leader, a technologist and a designer. We know you’ll build your team as well as your product through the course of the program, but the better you can be in those three facets, the higher probability you have of taking advantage of the Brandery resources.


Do you accept single founder companies?

Rules are made to be broken, but largely no. With a solid team, you’ll be able to experience/learn in four months what normally takes a couple years. You’ll want at least two dedicated co-founders to make the most of the opportunity. If you’re a CEO without a team, prove to us you have what it takes: convince talented people to join you. If you can’t convince at least one other person to buy into your dream, how are you going to convince millions of people to use your product and investors to give you hundreds of thousands of dollars?


Can you guarantee my company will get funded after The Brandery program ends?

No. We cannot guarantee your company will receive funding on the Demo Day or after the program ends. No program can (or should) make a promise like that. But we do think The Brandery gives you a leg up on other companies. For our Investor Demo Day, we will be inviting angel investors and venture capitalists from across the country to listen to your pitch. We’ll help you craft your brand and pitch to be as effective as possible and we’ll do everything in our power to help you get funding afterward. Based on other programs, you can expect that about 75% of companies will receive funding or become profitable after participating in The Brandery.


Where will we live while we’re in Cincinnati?

If you are from out of town, someone on The Brandery team (it’ll most likely be Heather) will help you find a place. We have some great partnerships with local realtors and we want to make sure you are happy/comfortable wherever you end up.

New for 2016 are the Branderyhaus apartments, located just 3 blocks away from Brandery HQ in historic Over-the-Rhine (OTR), Cincinnati. 14 2-bedroom apartments are available to Brandery members at incredibly competitive rates; rent includes high-speed gigabit internet and all utilities, meaning you can just move in and get right to work. Living and working in OTR will allow you to truly experience the best that Cincinnati has to offer; the region’s best restaurants and bars can be found right here, as well as some of the brightest creatives and most driven professionals.


Do I need to have prior start-up experience?

No, we are looking for passionate people with great ideas.


What will a typical day be like for a company in The Brandery?

The Brandery is here to help you build your startup. That means every day you will be hard at work on your product and brand. However, we aren’t here to babysit you or give you a schedule to follow. After all, it’s your company. With that in mind, you can choose to work out of the office space we provide or anywhere else that you prefer. Throughout the week we will have two to three educational sessions with our mentors that will cover a variety of topics. We’ll also have at least one social event per week. We do encourage you to spend as much time at The Brandery as possible. The collaboration with mentors and your fellow startup teams will prove invaluable as you build your company.


Is my company too early (or late) stage to apply to The Brandery?

We accept a range of stages. We are here to help you refine your problem, define your audience and build a great brand/product/business model. We have accepted companies from idea-stage and written on the back of a napkin to revenue generating with angel investment. We think we can help companies throughout their formative stage, even if you have customers and a platform.


I’m concerned that if I apply, you won’t protect my intellectual property. Should I be worried about this?

As any other start-up program will tell you, none of us are in the business of stealing ideas. But at the same time, we see many new start-ups and they often have similar ideas. Because of this and other practical reasons, please don’t ask us to sign a NDA. If you’re not comfortable disclosing something about your business, you are under no obligation to do so.


What is the schedule for the Investor Demo Day?

Demo Day 2016 will showcase our companies to a collection of angel investors, venture capitalists, business executives and industry press. The tentative schedule for the day is as follows:

8:30 AM Official Welcome
8:45 AM Keynote (speaker TBD)
9:30 AM Startup Company Pitches
12:00 PM Lunch & Networking Opportunity
12:00 PM Event Officially Concludes
2:00 PM Cincinnati Networking Happy Hour


What if I’m not interested in The Brandery, but am looking for seed or angel funding?

The Brandery does not currently have a fund with which to invest outside of The Brandery Accelerator program. However, we will perform diligence on a select number of opportunities and circulate the opportunity to our partners who are looking to make seed or angel investments. In the future we hope to manage a pool of capital to invest in companies seeking seed or angel funding.


Where can I ask more questions?

If you aren’t finding the answer you need, please do not hesitate to contact us directly through email.