has begun taking applications for its seventh annual startup accelerator class focusing on branding, design and marketing. Each of the selected 10-12 teams will receive $50,000 in seed funding and a year of free office space and mentorship in exchange for a 6 percent equity stake in their company.
The application deadline is April 15.
The Brandery is looking for the best and brightest startups inside Greater Cincinnati as well as from across the country and the world, says Program Manager Justin Rumao.
“We talk about how we have a marketing and branding bend,” he says, “but we encourage anyone with an idea to apply.”
In other words, applicants don’t have to have a completely fleshed out business plan to be considered for a slot in the four-month class. In fact, Rumao states that having a strong team is often just as important, if not more so, than the idea itself — ideas often transform in the startup world, but a strong team can carry a company through that type of transition.
For prospective applicants who aren’t quite sure yet or want to learn more, The Brandery has scheduled four sessions of “Open Office Hours
” before applications are due as a chance for startups to meet its staff.
“The goal is not only to share their idea through the application but to bounce it off other people and really start building that network,” Rumao says, emphasizing that those networks are crucial to the Brandery program.
The class isn’t just about accelerating startup ideas through branding and design, it also helps entrepreneurial teams leverage the resources of Cincinnati’s startup ecosystem — access to big companies like Procter & Gamble and Kroger and a spirit of collaboration found throughout the region’s innovation scene. In fact, Rumao jests that the city’s environment is almost an “unfair advantage.”
“We’ve got something special brewing here,” he says. “There is no reason The Brandery can’t become a top-5 accelerator in the country.”
The program doesn’t want to just use the city’s and region’s resources, Rumao says — The Brandery wants to build them up as well, encouraging the entrepreneurs who go through their accelerator to stay here and invest in the area. They even provide opportunities for out-of-town startups to live in Branderyhaus
three blocks from the accelerator’s Over-the-Rhine offices, helping newcomers get to know the local community while in the accelerator program.
“We want to make sure that as many people as possible who come through here stay here,” Rumao says.
Considering the stories of graduates like Natasia Malaihollo, founder and CEO of Wyzerr, it seems like The Brandery is succeeding on that front. Malaihollo recently told Soapbox
that, after relocating from New York and California for a Brandery class last year, she’s hoping her startup can become the Google of Covington
and help improve her new Northern Kentucky community.
If the past six years are any indication, The Brandery’s 2016 class will add plenty of valuable assets to Startup Cincinnati.