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Startup Cincinnati: The Brandery

Updated: Tuesday, November 19 2013, 09:59 AM EST
CINCINNATI (Tiffany Wilson) -- When Mark Zuckerberg started Facebook, he moved from Boston to Silicon Valley. It used to be that if you wanted to build a tech company you had to go to the valley. Not any more.

On the west side of Vine Street across from the Mercer Commons Construction, you'll find a window display that looks like a bumper sticker explosion. Inside the door, the chaos continues. White boards covered, desks cluttered --- The Brandery is central station for startups in Cincinnati. The accelerator condenses two years of business building into just four months.

"Over the course of that four month period, we make them move really, really fast," said Mike Bott, the general manager for The Brandery. Teams may enter with an idea on a napkin and the goal is to leave with a credible business and funding.  Since launching in 2010, The Brandery has quickly risen to the top of startup accelerators in the country. Bott sorted through 1,000 applications to find the fourth class of companies. "They're not just trying to do something small, they're trying to change the world with their ideas," he said.

TapFit wants to get rid of gym memberships and change the model to pay as you go. It's one of the ten companies that made the cut.  "We are pretty good with development, we have really good engineers, but the one thing we always struggled with is marketing," Scott Lieberman, CTO of TapFit said.

Marketing is where The Brandery excels. Cincinnati is rich with marketing and brand mavens who support Procter and Gamble's consumer goods. The accelerator matches startups with these local mentors --- giving the entrepreneurs an edge.

"Realistically, we would not be where we are, and wouldn't have been able to accelerate the way we did if it wasn't for The Brandery," said Konrad Billetz who founded Frameri. His company allows customers to snap the same pair of lenses into multiple frames. "For the most part it's been two guys...with a dream...pretty much...with a crazy dream that everyone says shouldn't work, but it's working."

About nine out of ten startups fail.  Getting into The Brandery greatly improves those odds --- eight of the ten companies from last year's class are still in business. "They're still living the dream, they don't have to get a real job yet," said Bott.

To date, The Brandery startups have raised more than $23 million and created dozens of jobs in Cincinnati.
Startup Cincinnati: The Brandery

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