The Internet turns branding and marketing dreams into reality. For Procter & Gamble executive Dave Knox that means transforming Cincinnati, Ohio into the Silicon Valley of consumer marketing. Knox, who works at P&G with venture capitalists and startups by day, sees moonlighting as an opportunity to take the business model built by TechStars or Capital Factory and apply it to startups focusing on branding and consumer marketing.
So, Knox and fellow co-founders J.B. Kropp, Dave Knox, Bryan J. Radtke, and Robert W. McDonald launched The Brandery three weeks ago. On Wednesday they close submissions that give five startups a 12-week launch program, earn $20,000 in seed funding, and provide access to partners, mentors and resources typically reserved for major corporations. The lucky winners will pitch to a group of angel investors, VCs and strategic partners.
In exchange for the seed funding, each company will give up 6% equity that goes to The Brandery, a non-profit, 5013C organization. When these startups emerge through successful exits, the equity will fund operating capital for The Brandery.
Mentors include Get Satisfaction's Wendy Lea, P&G's Lucas Watson, Third Screen Marketplace's Suzanne Tosolini, Venture Investments at the Kraft Group's Steve Schlafman, and E.W. Scripps's Adam Symson, among many other industry executives.
The five companies that win must have a consumer-marketing focus and differentiate their strategy through branding, marketing and positing. Many applying are Internet-based. The startups need potential to scale to support a "significantly large" market. So consulting companies or local restaurants don't fit the bill. The company also needs to have a technology bent, which remains important to the state organization that is helping to fund winners.
The call for entries went out 2.5 weeks ago. The Brandery has received applications from eight states by entrepreneurs willing to move to Cincinnati. Knox declined to provide the list of entrees, but VenueAgent and BrainRack are two that took it upon themselves to tweet on Twitter their application submission into the program.
VenueAgent aims to help people find the venue of their dreams, but also assists in filling the space after last-minute cancellations. Think Priceline. But rather than find the best price on plane flights or hotels, this site caters to the venue world, offering access to difficult-to-book locations at discounted prices. Owners Jocelyn and Joe Cates, Burlington, Ky, do it by having special relationships with venues to help fill ballrooms, meeting spaces, and ceremony locations that may otherwise go unsold.
Another The Brandery submission, BrainRack, allows companies to generate ideas while allowing innovators the opportunity to earn money and gain recognition, according to the company's @BrainRack Twitter page.
Companies have until midnight on Wednesday to submit applications. Knox says the co-founders will go through the submissions during the weekend, informing the winners on Aug. 16. The program begins Aug. 30. Demo days on Nov. 18 and 19 will give the companies a chance to demonstrate their company's strength in front of venture capitalists, investors, brand marketers and press and media.