Brandery Demo Day 2013: Investors impressed by new crop of startups

Brandery co-founder takes a look back

CINCINNATI -- The Brandery startup accelerator drew a sellout crowd of 430 to its fourth annual Demo Day at the Aronoff Center’s Jarson Kaplan Theater downtown Wednesday.

More than 150 of the attendees were investors, who heard pitches from nine startup companies trying to raise more than $2.6 million on a combined basis.

“This is the first year we didn’t have a keynote speaker and didn’t have all the founders on stage because we’re past that point. We have these amazing companies up there on stage that speak for themselves,” said Dave Knox, a Brandery co-founder and chief marketing officer for Rockfish Interactive.

Venture capital investors attending this year’s Demo Day included Jack Wyant from Blue Chip Venture Co., Queen City Angels Chairman Tony Shipley and Mark Kvamme, the former JobsOhio chief who’s Columbus-based Drive Capital closed a $181 million fund in August.

“I’ve been to a lot of demo days,” he said. “This ranks as one of the top one or two I’ve ever been at.”

Kvamme’s firm invested $2.5 million in the former Brandery tenant Roadtrippers, a company he learned about at least year's Demo Day. He thinks “one or two” of this year’s tenants will eventually receive an investment from Drive Capital, but added the review process could take months to complete.

“They all have interesting concepts,” agreed Tony Shipley. “What we have to do is dig into the details.

Kvamme was intrigued by the business plan of Frameri, the eyeglass manufacturer that wants to change the way consumers buy eyewear. Frameri founder Konrad Billetz told the Demo Day crowd that its Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign, featured on WCPO recently, has now raised more than $42,000.

Shipley was impressed by the Brandery startup, Dónde, which is a mobile app that helps consumers find retail locations that sell the products they want. And it helps retailers target those consumers with ads and discount offers. Dónde CEO Anthony Nicalo said the company has a pilot project underway with Kroger and could reach $20 million in annual revenue within 18 months.

“Any time you can point to an actual customer where you’ve trialed it and people are giving you buying signals, those are the kind of companies we’re looking for,” Shipley said “We don’t want to invest in companies that are so early in the process that we have no customer feedback.”

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