Summer is winding down for college students across the country. Many are returning for their 2nd, 3rd, and 4th years of life away from home, but for college freshmen 9and their parents) this is an entirely new experience. Undoubtedly, millions of parents of incoming college freshmen are scouring the aisles of their local Target store buying everything on their son or daughter’s dorm room list, and probably some extra stuff too.
As move-in day approaches, parents everywhere are going to start thinking about what to send to their new college student. I didn’t go to college, but I got my first out-of-state radio gig around the same time in my life. I was 18 years old and about 500 miles from home. My mom would send me these enormous boxes every week or two. Blank cassette tapes (for airchecking, yes I’m old), clippings from the local paper, Twinkies (even though there were plenty on the shelves at the local grocery store), clothes and whatever my mom could find. The same goes for most college freshmen these days.
We featured Brandery startup Co-Ed Supply in our Startups in the Fastlane series yesterday, an interview with a startup going through an accelerator. We learned a lot about what two Philadelphia natives had cooked up with Co-Ed Supply.
Basically it’s a college student care package wrapped up in a monthly subscription package. Co-Ed supply takes all the work out of putting together care packages. Now instead of silly trinkets, Co-Ed supply makes sure you get college essentials.
“The contents of each box is a surprise but all contain healthy snacks, personal care items, and entertainment. For students and their parents, basically we’re offering a cheaper, healthier, and more entertaining alternative to traditional care package options,” Forston told us in an interview.
Co-Ed Supply launched this morning, just as most college students are thinking about heading back to school. The cost of the subscription is just $20 per month and right now if you help five friends sign up, you’ll get a month free.
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.
(flight car founders: Kevin Petrovic, Shri Ganeshram, Rujul Zaparde photo: bostonglobe.com)
Last year, one of the most exciting startups in the 2012 class at The Brandery startup accelerator in Cincinnati, Ohio was FlightCar. The startup, made up of teenage MIT dropouts. had a revolutionary idea. With FlightCar, instead of paying to park your car at the airport, you could rent it out to somebody else, making money rather then spending it.
After honing their branding, image, and product at the Brandery last summer, the FlightCar team secured a huge insurance policy, follow on funding, and their place in Y-Combinator. In April, after Y-Combinator’s demo day, the trio raked in another $5.5 million dollars in venture capital.
FlighCar quickly began testing their model at Oakland Airport and soon after rolled out service to San Francisco International Airport.
That’s when the trouble began.
Insidebayarea.com reported on Wednesday that the startup is being sued by the city of San Francisco. San Francisco City Attorney, Dennis Herrera, is accusing FlightCar of dodging fees, undercutting competition, and not adhering to rules which include payments by car rental companies back to the airport.
The kicker, though, is the fact that FlightCar actually operates off a lot not located on airport property. FlightCar’s co-founder and Chief Operating Officer, Kevin Petrovic, who isn’t old enough to rent a car himself, told insidebayarea.com “I think they have a lot of pressure from rental car and airport parking companies,” he said. “We do take away some of their business.”
Herrera is counting on ordinances that say SFO is entitled to collect fees from rental car companies that primarily serve it’s travelers even if the rental operation is not located on SFO property.
Petrovic defends FlightCar by saying they aren’t an actual rental car company and hotels and restaurants surrounding the airport don’t pay fees to the airport.
“FlightCar has refused to comply with any of the rules,” Deputy City Attorney Jennifer Choi said. “We want the court to order them to comply with the law.” The city also points out that FlightCar doesn’t currently hold a commercial ground transport permit or an off-airport business license.
FlightCar joins a slew of “sharing economy” startups–including ride sharing startups like SideCar and room sharing startups like AirBnB–which have faced legal and public scrutiny over their business models.
FlightCar has been operating in Oakland and Boston without incident, so far. Outside of this lawsuit from the City Of San Francisco, people seem to like the idea of renting out their car for money rather than spending it. In addition to the rental fee, FlightCar cleans and washes each car before and after the rental and insures that you get to and from your car without hassle.
So back in July when we heard the original idea behind FlightCar I thought this group of teenage ivy league dropouts was absolutely crazy. Their Cincinnati startup Flightcar is a crazy idea. Their simplest pitch, “let someone else rent your car while you’re traveling” seemed a little far fetched. Combine that with the fact that there’s maybe 10 years driving experience between the three of them and even less business traveling experience, and I was totally disconnected.
Sometime during the Brandery’s demo day back in October my opinion changed. By the end of their pitch, and then a brief meeting with all three founders and I was completely sold.
With the “sharing economy” becoming more and more popular, why wouldn’t someone let another person borrow their car while they are away on a trip. People are doing it with their homes all the time now, by way of Vayala and Airbnb.
The concept is fairly simple. You’re flying out of town for a trip and you have to pay for parking for your car. Rather than paying for parking, Flightcar allows you to park your car in their lot and then while your gone it gets rented out to someone else who is coming into town for the same length or a shorter amount of time. Now, instead of spending money to park, you’re making money with your car that would otherwise be sitting in a parking lot.
To make the value proposition work Flightcar founders Rujul Zaparde, Kevin Petrovic and Shri Ganeshram had to insure a few things for their customers to be comfortable with the transaction.
Insurance: Of course the entire transaction, car, renters, drivers and passengers would need to be fully insured. Flightcar has done this by securing a $1 million dollar insurance policy.
Ease of transaction: The Flightcar team has managed to build in several factors to make the transaction as easy and painless as possible. The Flightcar website helps pre-determine the “borrowing”. Once at the airport (participating airports), you park your car at the Flightcar lot where a ride is provided to the gate. Flightcar will also wash and clean your car prior to renting it out and prior to you picking it up.
After the Brandery, Flightcar was accepted into the YCombinator accelerator program in Silicon Valley. Now they’ve raises $5.5 million dollars from investors. This first round of funding comes from General Catalyst, Softbank Capital, Ryan Seacrest’s Seacrest Global Group, founder of Airbnb Brian Chesky, with participation from a host of other investors including First Round Capital, Andreessen Horowitz, and Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, according to TechCrunch.
Check out their pitch video from Brandery’s 2012 demo day below:
Comments Off on Cincinnati Startup Repp Pitches At Startup America Live At SXSW [sxsw]0LikeLike 2,710
Cincinnati startup Repp was one of the great startups we saw at the Brandery 2012 demo day back in October. Repp is a service that allows people to validate their repp or reputation.
Repp waited from October until now for their first big marketing push. We bumped into Michael Bergman, Repp’s co-founder in the lobby at the Hilton where he was wearing a hot pink Repp t-shirt and handing out breakfast tacos. Startup founders will do anything they can to get much needed exposure at SXSW.
They were also one of the startups invited to pitch at the Startup America Live pitch sessions, which included feedback from top members of the startup community.
Have you ever met a girl that you tried to date, but a year to make love she wanted you to wait… oh wait that’s a song lyric. Have you ever met a girl that you tried to date and after she stood you up you found out she “pre date stalked you”? Well that’s exactly what happen to REPP founder Michael Bergman, when he actually met his now wife. Luckily for Bergman he’s got a pretty popular name. In fact, [Chris Bergman], the founder of Chore Monster (which is a previous graduate of The Brandery) isn’t even related to Michael.
So sure we internet stalk everyone now. The first thing I do when I get a new business card or meet someone at a conference I find intriguing is go right to good ole Google. The problem with that in the dating world is that there is a lot of stuff out there that may be better suitable after a few dates.
Now take a situation at the complete other end of the spectrum. It’s time to sell your iPhone 4s on Craigslist. Now this is a hot item and you may want to know a little bit more about the man who just pulled up to a panel van and appears to be packing a pistol in his sweatshirt.
In both of these cases you want more information about someone. If you were the someone in question, with REPP at myrepp.com, you can control that flow of information.
REPP aggregates your social graph and can even integrate a background check into a profile that you can give people access to. You can also control how much information is given out in that profile.
You may want the ladies to know a little more information than the guy you’re buying the stolen Xbox from. Nonetheless both the Craigslist seller and the nice young lady would be more comfortable with more information about you.
The service is free at the moment but moving to a freemium model with added features. Check out Bergman’s pitch from the Startup America Live stage below:
Comments Off on A Travel Startup For The Young Sexy & Broke NY Startup: Off Track Planet0LikeLike 1,683
Brooklyn based entrepreneur Freddie Pikovsky is no stranger to startups. Pikovsky is the founder of Brooklyn’s Dumbo Startup Labs, a hot spot for entrepreneurial and startup activity in Brooklyn. In fact our good friends at Justdecide.com work out of Dumbo Startup Labs.
In a true testament to the power of The Brandery startup accelerator in Cincinnati, Pikovsky, who could have easily gotten his latest startup into any incubator or accelerator in the New York region, applied to, and got accepted at, The Brandery. It was The Brandery’s focus on marketing and branding that Pikovsky was hoping would help shape Off Track Planet. It’s apparent that his decision to take a 3 months sabbatical from Dumbo Startup Labs and head to Cincinnati paid off.
Off Track Planet, in it’s 1.0 form, had already attracted the attention of young, broke, millennials who loved to travel. Pikovsky knows this market well. In fact he worked alongside Diego Saez Gil, founder of inbed.me which for politically correct reasons became wehostels. Pikovsky ventured out on his own with Off Track Planet to target a different segment of the $108 billion dollar a year travel industry.
Off Track Planet targets the millennial generation by offering great content on the best places to travel to, affordable things to do, even great swag and gadget ideas for the millennial traveler.
“In order to change the world, we must see the world first. The new Off Track Planet makes it easier to explore, plan, share, and experience the world in a way that makes sense to our generation.” Pikovsky said in a statement.
In addition to a relaunch of the Off Track Planet online offering, Pikovsky has added a traditional print magazine and has also written a book that will be available at Urban Outfitters. The attraction to the millennial traveler is definitely there. In his introduction of Off Track Planet at the Brandery Demo Day, OTP Mentor and DFJ Mercury Managing Director, Blair Garrou said:
“Off Track Planet is not for the 80 million baby boomers but for the 80 million millennials.”
Check out Pikovsky’s pitch video below from The Brandery’s Demo Day:
Comments Off on Cincinnati Startup ChoreMonster Makes Chores Fun For The Whole Family VIDEO INTERVIEW0LikeLike 1,934
Cincinnati startup ChoreMonster makes chores fun for the whole family. The Cincinnati based startup, founded by Chris Bergman and Paul Armstrong was one of the standout startups in the 2011 class at the Brandery Accelerator in Cincinnati’s Over-The-Rhine neighborhood. The startup was designed around monsters that Paul Armstrong had created and shown to Bergman. The two decided that they really needed to do something fun, positive and profitable with the monsters.
Bergman tells us in the video interview below that he didn’t have the best home life as a kid. He didn’t delve deep into that but you can tell that he is very passionate not just about starting a tech company,but the good that ChoreMonster is going to do for families and kids. He loves the idea behind incentivizing chores and of course the gamification of them as well.
So how does it work?
Parents sign up at ChoreMonster.com. While it’s in beta right now Bergman tells us that all you have to do is share it with your Facebook friends, through a one-click process and you’re into the beta. He also tells us you can find beta invite codes everywhere. At this point the beta is more about putting the finishing touches on the product rather than limiting users at this stage in the game.
After you sign up, you create a profile for your child (children) no worries though the parent controls everything that the child sees.
From there you start setting up chores. You can pick from the list of chores or make up your own. Once you’ve selected a chore you fill out the chore form which asks you to assign it a point value.
The next step is to set up rewards which your child can redeem for points. The parents create the rewards themselves. For my daughter we created a chore “pick up toys and books” we assigned it a value of 5 points and that it needs to be done every day. At 50 points our four year old daughter can redeem it for a new My Little Pony. We added a variety of other chores along with a bunch of awards including things like movie night where we will go see a movie in the theater, after school ice cream trip, and after school trip to the park.
There is an app that we downloaded for her on her ipod touch which tells us she’s completed a chore. Once we verify the chore she gets the points in her point bucket.
The best part may be when the monsters come into play though. Armstrong has designed a great group of monsters that each kid can redeem. They plan on adding a virtual market so the kids can add virtual items to their monsters, buy premium monsters and interact with other kids and other monsters.
Original ChoreMonster artwork like this fills the 3rd floor at the Brandery where ChoreMonster works. It's referred to as the "Alumni Penthouse" (photo: nibletz LLC)
Sure ChoreMonster isn’t going to last forever in a kids life. The average family will probably get great use out of ChoreMonster from the time their child is four to about 12 or 13. They may grow out of it by then, but heck it’s around that age that the chore chart comes down as well.
From a startup business standpoint, with their core set of users theres barely any attrition. After the family has the big family meeting about ChoreMonster, and once the kids start using it, it’s not something that can be easily tossed to the wayside like an app or game you may have gotten bored with.
Bergman tells us the next step is to add an app for the parents so that they can verify chores, track chores, and check up on their child’s progress from their own app.
The two co-founders are filled with heart, soul and laughter and of course creativity. They work out of the top floor of the Brandery which has been dubbed the “Alumni Penthouse” from some of the companies that work out of the space. From the middle of the top floor of the Brandery Bergman and Armstrong can see all the way down to the bullpen where the current class is working hard on their startups.
Both co-founders can often be found mentoring the new startups as well. You can also find them very active in the social, community parts of the Brandery whether it be a Reds game, basketball, beer pong or one of the Brandery’s social gatherings. They’re both as committed to the Brandery community as they were when they were going through the same rigorous program.
Check out the video below where Bergman talks more about what drove him and Armstrong to create ChoreMonster and you can just tell from the discussion this is something he believes in. Investor’s believe in them as well. In 2011 they took the $25,000 top prize in the Cincinnati Innovates competition. They also closed a round of funding at the beginning of the year for $350,000 dollars from private investors and CincyTech.
Comments Off on Utah Startup: CrowdHall Moving To Cincinnati For The Brandery INTERVIEW0LikeLike 1,491
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 Read More…