Off Track Planet Raises $500,000 To Build Living Travel Guide

Off Track Planet app

Off Track Planet started as a Brooklyn-based travel blog in 2009. Their first book Off Track Planet’s Travel Guide for the Young, Sexy, and Broke was released in 2012 and saw impressive distribution, including at Urban Outfitters stores. That year they also moved half of their startup to Cincinnati to participate in the Brandery.

Now, the hits just keep coming. Last week Off Track Planet announced a $500,000 seed round. CincyTech, the Brandery, and unnamed international angels all participated in the round. Off Track Planet will use their new capital infusion to build the world’s first “living travel guide.” The new app (which is currently in private beta) will aggregate users’ content from across all their social networks, organizing it by date, location, tags, and keywords into a single timeline. From that stream of images and updates, OTP will curate and add some editorial to create a cohesive, branded guide for a given place. Users will be incentivized to add more and better detail to create the richest guides possible. The “living” part comes in because each guide will change and grow as users contribute more and more content. Off Track Planet co-founder and CEO Freddy Pikovsky said in a statement:

“In order to build the most beautiful and intelligent travel guide, we needed to make it insanely easy and richer for people to share their experiences. Your travel stuff is scattered all over the place. We have pictures and bits of content fragmented on different social sites (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc), and there’s no easy way of putting it all together to tell your story.”

The app is currently in private beta while the company recruits “super-users,” meaning travel experts, local experts, photographers, and bloggers. The company plans to launch a public beta early next year, along with 3 city guides: Buenos Aires, Brooklyn, and Berlin. Off Track Planet is demo-ing the new app at two separate events tonight. Go here to sign up for the Cincinnati event and here for the Brooklyn event. You can also keep up with beta release on the Off Track Planet website.

Drive Capital’s Mark Kvamme: Brandery Is One Of The Best Accelerators Outside SV

The Brandery, Mark Kvamme, Drive Capital, Cincinnati startups, accelerator

Mark Kvamme, Co-founder and Partner at Drive Capital and a former partner at Sequoia, is high on startups and entrepreneurs outside of Silicon Valley. Kvamme, a life long Valley guy, moved out to Columbus, Ohio, to start Drive Capital and help spur innovation “everywhere else”.

Appearing on a panel Wednesday afternoon at the Southland conference in Nashville, Tennessee, Kvamme defended the hustle outside of Silicon Valley.

“I know people here in Nashville, I know people in the midwest that I think actually work harder than Silicon Valley people. Because Silicon Valley people are all into the appearance of what I’m doing versus actually getting down and “gettin’ ‘er done,” Kvamme said in response to a question from panel moderator and Solidus Partner Vic Gatto.

Gatto had eluded to the fact that he feels that some entrepreneurs in the Southeast don’t hustle the way people in the Valley do because there is no competition.

Through Solidus, Gatto funds multiple accelerators in Tennessee including Nashville’s Jumpstart Foundry and Memphis’ Seed Hatchery. Earlier in the discussion Gatto had brought up accelerators so Kvamme took the opportunity to talk about one accelerator in particular: the Brandery.

Most Nibletz readers know that our co-founder Nick Tippmann has been through the Brandery with two different startups, and we work out of the Brandery facility in Over The Rhine when we’re in Cincinnati.

During the panel Kvamme spoke very highly of the Brandery calling it “one of the best accelerators outside Silicon Valley,” in effect putting The Brandery in league with Techstars and MassChallenge.

Kvamme said he just funded a company out of The Brandery, as did Khosla and Tony Hsieh. He goes on to say that the Brandery is successful because of the ecosystem that surrounds it, and that the ecosystem could be replicated in Nashville and pretty much everywhere.  Check out the video clip below:


We’ve been tracking The Brandery, and their companies, heavily over the last two years. Check out more of our Brandery coverage here.

Here’s more from Southland.


Louisville Startup: Impulcity Smooth As Butter Event Discovery Now In Beta

Impulcity is one of the standout startups at The Brandery in Cincinnati. We finally got a chance to talk with Hunter Hammonds and Austin Cameron face to face about the disruptive mobile app they’re building.

When someone who does what I do hears the words “location” and “discovery’ we automatically think FourSquare, Google Places, and checking in. We think the space is crowded. We think “sure you’ve got something different”. Well with Impulcity, Hammonds and Cameron have something different. As soon as we arrived at the Brandery Hammonds immediately set up the private beta on my phone and for the rest of the evening I got a guided tour on Impulcity right from the co-founders.

After a night on the town, Hammonds challenged me and our co-founder Cameron Wright to name one event discovery mobile app, that served up local events, allows you to check into them, invite friends, and had a great UI. We couldn’t even name one, not like this.

As you can see they have a great visual user experience. From the main screen you see a highlighted event in visual form and then a grid of similar pictures promoting events around you. The top featured event can be swiped from left to right so that you can see all the highlighted events.

Once you’re in the event you can do a number of things which are all explained in easy detail. There are big inviting buttons for sharing, and what network you want to share with. There is a timeline feature for each event where people can chime in on their experience at the event and share pictures and text.

While Impulcity is from Louisville and building at the Brandery in Cincinnati they’ve already got over a million events in their database that will populate in the same beautiful visual way.

Impulcity says they help you discover, attend and interact with events around you and that’s certainly true. But you can bet on our road trip that we will continue to test and use Impulcity.


Sign up for early access to Impulcity here

Find out more about The Brandery here

Nibletz is the voice of startups “everywhere else” and we’re road-tripping everywhere else click here

Utah Startup: CrowdHall Moving To Cincinnati For The Brandery INTERVIEW

Imagine if you could mix a social network, reddit,crowdsourced answers and a town hall meeting into one platform that wasn’t an absolute train wreck. Now imagine if you could use that platform to host virtual conferences, discussions with elected officials, or even with your blog audience (yeah we can’t wait to try it). Now stop imagining because that’s what the founders of CrowdHall are doing.

The founders hail from “everywhere else” As you’ll see in the interview there we could credit this startup to Salt Lake City, San Diego, Washington DC and now Cincinnati, as CrowdHall was selected for the 2012 class at the Brandery.

At the Brandery CrowdHall will refine their product and make a go of a truly unique startup.

CrowdHall works like this:

Say you’re an active citizen and you noticed in your neighborhood all the playground equipment was getting old and dangerous. You would probably write city hall or call city hall and get back some kind of form response that says they’ll look into it. You may try again and get the same answer. Heck you could even go to the city hall meeting and get the same answer, they’ll look into it.

Now with CrowdHall you may be able to find your local City Councilman. You could ask the City Councilman about the playground equipment. Then you could tell your friends that you asked on CrowdHall and they could in turn, come and vote up your question. Now your Councilman sees that you have a very valid issue. He can answer you and all the other neighbors you recruited in a one on one way but in a public facing setting where the other could also comment.

Now if the Councilman agrees with you, he could help get the playground equipment issue resolved, voila!

This can also be used for bloggers to source questions in a similar way and discussion format, even rock stars, entertainers, business speakers, and just about anyone who has a “crowd” could benefit from CrowdHall.

As the CrowdHall team prepares to move to Cincinnati next week for this session of the Brandery, we got a chance to talk with Jordan Menzel, Co-Founder and COO of CrowdHall. Check that interview out, after the break
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Cincinnati’s The Brandery Announces 2012 Startup Class, And It Starts Young

Earlier we reported on Louisville Kentucky startup Impulcity and the fact that they would be headed up to Cincinnati for this years class at the Brandery. The Brandery is a marketing focused Cincinnati incubator. All of the companies selected to participate in the 2012 session receive $20,000 in seed capital and will participate in a 14 week program that includes free office space, mentoring, working with some of the top marketing and advertising people in the country and access to venture capitalists.

To date the Brandery has graduated 14 startups since 2010. This year’s class is 11 startups deep and the ages of these entrepreneurs range from 17 years old to 45. It’s a mix of Cincinnati based startups, to startups from across the US. However the Brandery received applications from over 40 different countries and received twice as many applications as the previous two years combined.

Enterchange reports that Rujul Zaparde is the youngest in the class at 17. His co-founders in their New Jersey based startup FlazCar are Shri Ganeshram and Kevin Petrovic, both of whom are just 18 themselves.  Details were stealthily as to what they would be working on however Laura Baverman of Enterchange reports that these three high school buddies started a non profit that’s built 50 wells in India serving 80,000 residents. One word: Impressive.

At 45, Vinay Murthy is the oldest member of the class. Murthy left a position at Google where he helped develop Adsense, Adwords and also worked on YouTube among other things. His startup, with co-founder Vikram Venkataraghavan is called 360pager, and again there’s word on exactly what they are doing.

Here’s the full list of startups in this years class as reported by Enterchange at

Brooklyn, NY: Off Track Planet, Freddie Pikovsky, 29, and Anna Starostinetskaya, 29.

Chicago: Ontract, Julian Miller, 31, and Matt Duch, 26.

Cincinnati: Modulus, Charlie Key, 28, Brandon Cannaday, 28, and Richard Key, 24, (moving back home from Tucson).

Cincinnati: VouchedFor, Michael Bergman, 33, David Volker, 31, Bree Bergman, 31, Stephen Hartz, 34.

Cleveland: Flock’d, Greg Svitak, 37, and Kurt Pettit, 34. According to its website, Flock’d is a mobile application that lets groups check-in at bars and request rewards from the bars’ owners or managers.

Louisville: Impulcity, Hunter Hammonds, 21, and Austin Cameron, 22. They’ve already received some press in Louisville for a plan to use data from a person’s social media presence to recommend events and venues that fit his or her interests.

New York: Socstock, Jay Finch, 26, and Angelo Stracquatanio, 25. Its website describes an online platform that helps small businesses raise capital from their community of supporters, in return for future goods and services at the business.

New Jersey: FlazCar, Rujul Zaparde, 17, Shri Ganeshram, 18, and Kevin Petrovic, 18.

Salt Lake City: CrowdHall, Austin Hackett, 27, Jordan Menzel, 27, and Nick Wientge, 34, of San Diego (and Cincinnati native). A website for the company calls it a free online platform that lets high-profile people respond to public discourse and lets crowds more effectively communicate with those high-profile people.

San Francisco: 360Pager, Vinay Murthy, 45, and Vikram Venkataraghavan, 36.

Seattle: FlyDutch, Andy Zhang, 26, George Lin, 26, and Sean Wen, 27. According to a profile on AngelList, a site that matches startups and investors, FlyDutch helps online daters meet in person faster, safer and more casually.

The Brandery has a team of over 55 mentors with top notch business and startup experience. The list includes Mike Bott, the General Manager of The Brandery; Lucas Watson, Vice President of Sales and Marketing at YouTube; and Tim O’Shaughnessy, CEO of Living Social.
Powerhouse VC firms including Union Square Ventures, First Round Capital and Polaris also have mentors participating. This is actually one of the strongest teams of mentors we’ve seen at an incubator “everywhere else”.
The program officially starts July 2 and will end with a Demo Day set for October 3rd when all 11 teams will show off their startups.
Source: Enterchange at
For more information visit
Nibletz is the voice of startups “everywhere else” here are more stories from “everywhere else”
The next leg of our road trip actually includes Cincinnati (In addition to Chicago, St.Louis & more) please check this link out and watch the video below: