In a move further distinguishing itself from other startup accelerators in North America, The Brandery is now offering slightly subsidized housing to its enrollees. Located on the 1100 block of Walnut Street, the building known as Branderyhaus — owned by Urban Sites — is a simple solution to a problem faced by many entrepreneurs entering a new city.
Jordan Axani, 28-year-old CEO of Triplust, is one such out-of-towner who was lured from his home in Toronto by this innovative act of hospitality.
“If you go to some of the more renowned accelerators in North America, they don’t provide housing,” Axani says. “You show up and you have to find a place for an awkward period of time. Who wants to rent out a place in Chicago for four months?”
Four months is the average time it takes for a startup accelerator to prepare its enrolled businesses to enter the market with as many advantages as possible. So the fact that Branderyhaus is located only a few blocks from The Brandery’s main office on the 1400 block of Vine Street means the accelerator has made a smoother transition for its enrollees.
“Door to door, it takes four minutes,” Axani says. “The fact that housing is involved with an accelerator is so rare. It makes perfect sense because, while we’re here to enjoy the city, we’re primarily here to work and to make our companies really thrive. The more things that can be simplified for us, the better.”
“The housing bit is representative of the broader support that’s here,” he continues. “This is why we wanted to come here, in a nutshell.”
Built in 1874, the Branderyhaus space has lived through many phases. It endured years of neglect, similar to many of Over-the-Rhine’s buildings, before being refurbished to its current state.
“We’re really proud of our city,” says Greg Olson, CEO of Urban Sites, speaking to attendees at the grand opening of Branderyhaus. “To Cincinnatians, it’s a big deal to see all these great, young, brilliant minds come into our city. We believe in something bigger than ourselves, a purpose greater than us. That’s why we’re so proud building and bringing back spaces like this. This was built in the 1800s by German and Irish workers. It was special to them and it’s still special to us.”
Urban Sites is working in conjunction with The Brandery to offer the multi-unit building to enrollees who would benefit from living with their co-founders and the other entrepreneurs active in the accelerator.
“One of the things Brandery was singularly talented at through the past five years is bringing outside entrepreneurs to Cincinnati,” says Tony Alexander, general manager of The Brandery.
He also addressed the attendees at the Branderyhaus grand opening. “One of our primary concerns was, ‘How can we get as many of these companies from the outside to stay here in Cincinnati?’ It takes a village,” he says. “It takes CincyTech funding them, then making friendships here and making connections so they will want to stay in Cincinnati. This is a huge weapon in continuing that process.”
“Most of the companies that are in the building are from out of town,” Axani says. “It’s like living in residence, albeit a much finer residence from university. Urban Sites is technically our landlord, and they’ve been fantastic.”
Axani and his fellow Triplust co-founders, Andrew Vine and Sebastien Filion, share a two-bedroom unit they’ve converted into three with the use of Ikea room dividers. Of course, they were offered the use of two units to better accommodate the trio, but decided it would be better to stick together.
“It allows the collaboration to flow over into the evenings. It’s enhanced our camaraderie,” Axani says. “Realistically, and this is the case with any accelerator, not all the companies are going to make it. Some will morph; others will merge. There’s a lot of collaboration. It’s a very synergistic group. There’s a reason The Brandery is one of the top-10 national accelerators, that’s a no-brainer. The level of support is unmatched. The acclaim is earned.”
The Canadian trio’s company, Triplust, is working to connect travelers with enthusiastic locals in the cities they’ll be visiting in order to better experience the new area. Through recommendations given by the registered locals, Triplust aims to work as a new form of concierge, travel agent and good buddy for tourists, devoid of tired or generic destinations.
Last weekend, Triplust tested its product with the rapid influx of newcomers to Cincinnati thanks to the All-Star Game. Called Cincy Locals, the app launched specifically to gauge local interest in a service such as Triplust.
“The Brandery is going to be pivotal, but it still comes down to the core team and what we do with the company,” Axani says. “Our failure or success is principally upon us. Having said that, I think The Brandery is giving us our best shot at succeeding.”
Axani and his team at Triplust have expressed sincere appreciation for how Cincinnati has opened its arms to them from the onset. The city’s business culture is especially persuasive and nurturing, meaning more and more businesses choose Cincinnati to home their startup efforts. This city has blocks of underutilized real estate that could become home to incoming job makers and idea smiths. This town is big enough for all of us.
“There’s this really interesting redefinition going on in this city,” Axani says. “From the outside, there’s a seemingly untapped creative, branding, marketing, storytelling talent that I haven’t seen in this density anywhere else. Toronto is a huge agency city, and we don’t have anything like this; L.A. is huge, and they have nothing like what you have. It’s a special city. I have a bit of a crush on Cincinnati.”
Learn more about THE BRANDERY at brandery.org.