Brandery Demo Day – Connecting, Spreading and Preparing the Ecosystem

Posted: November 13, 2011 by Brett Smith in Ecosystem, Innovation, Startup, Technology

In late October, the Brandery held its second annual Demo Day for its eight portfolio companies.  Following their 12 week program at the Brandery, the companies – Choremonster, Keepio, Leap, Receept, Rent Share, Roadtrippers, Spaceity, and Style ZEN – had the opportunity to showcase their concepts on Demo Day to an audience of more than 350 attendees at the Champions Club at Great American Ball Park. By all accounts, Brandery Demo Day was an important event not only for the eight portfolio companies but also for the entire Greater Cincinnati entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Connecting the Past

Drawing from the roots of ecology, an ecosystem approach is concerned with the components of a system and how those component parts interact. In prior columns, the Cincinnati entrepreneurial ecosystem has been described as consisting of nine components including universities, government, angel investors, venture capitalists, incubators, events, grass roots initiatives, networks and support groups. While each of these components has been individually identified, the Brandery and its Demo Day provided a wonderful opportunity for the component parts of the ecosystem to interact. Throughout the 12 week program, universities, angel investors, venture capitalists and many others contributed different forms of collective capital – human, financial, social and intellectual – to advance the work of the Brandery portfolio companies. At Demo Day, each of these interacting parts was present and engaged in the collective conversation about both the portfolio companies and about how to continue to find ways to interact going forward with each other.  In this way, the Brandery served as a catalyst to connect many of the component parts of the ecosystem.

Spreading the Present
As a top ten high tech accelerator in the country, the Brandery was able to attract applications of high technology start-ups of excellent quality from across the country. Upon acceptance into the program, all eight companies were required to set up shop in Cincinnati thereby obligating six high tech companies from beyond Cincinnati to relocate and keeping two companies here in Cincinnati. As part of the program, Cincy Tech provided funding for each of the eight companies. This physical relocation to Cincinnati had a ripple effect throughout the ecosystem. A few examples include: students from multiple universities were able to complete internships with portfolio companies (such internships provided closer understanding of the ecosystem and may encourage some of our best and brightest to remain in Cincinnati), mentors were able to hear from and contribute to cutting edge conversations about current entrepreneurial concepts, events and networks were held. Each of these examples illustrates how the Brandery and its Demo Day have contributed to spreading the ripple effect within the current ecosystem.

Preparing the Future

At Demo Day, Adam Bain, President of Revenue Generation at Twitter, gave the keynote speech before the presentation by the portfolio companies. Bain highlighted the past growth and future projections of users. A similar theme seems appropriate when comparing Demo Day 2010 to Demo Day 2011. While last year’s event was incredible for a new accelerator, this year’s event dramatically exceeded its predecessor in every way.  This past growth and future projections bode well for the Cincinnati ecosystem. Beyond Bain’s visit from Silicon Valley, many attendees – including entrepreneurs, mentors and investors – at Demo Day were not only from Cincinnati but rather from across Ohio; many were not only from the Midwest but across the country – Chicago to Austin, TX and East Coast to West Coast. As a result, the Brandery and its Demo Day provided an opportunity to prepare the Greater Cincinnati entrepreneurial ecosystem for more future success by broadening and deepening our integration and collaboration with other ecosystems.

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