Before Matt Berning helped create and develop the brands of local companies like FC Cincinnati and Dewey’s Pizza through his marketing agency Uplift Studio, he had to do some rebranding of his own.

Berning founded Uplift around two years ago with the goal of providing accessible, quick and relatively cheap creative services for local startups and small businesses. Larger marketing agencies can charge up to $500,000 for the services that Uplift provides, but Berning aims to provide big agency work on a startup budget.

Prior to starting his own agency, Berning worked with large companies like Procter & Gamble and Kellogg for 20 years. But after two decades, he felt it was time for a fresh start.

“I started to feel like a cog in a big marketing wheel,” Berning said. “I wanted to see my work come to life in a short period of time and see that person I’m helping.”

Since launch, Berning has worked with more than a half-dozen local companies on projects ranging from veggie spreads to soccer teams. He doesn’t have specific industry that he likes to work with. Just “startups with great ideas.” Each business has unique needs and requests, but oftentimes they just need help communicating who they are and what they do.

“When you look at companies, especially in tech, founders usually have a good background, but they can’t articulate what they’re trying to do to a mainstream audience,” he said.

That’s where Berning comes in. Through Uplift, Berning helps startups figure out how to sell themselves not just to investors, but to a growing audience.

“It’s my job to make sure that the technology comes to life.”

One of the first businesses Uplift worked on was the Queen City’s soccer team, FC Cincinnati. Over the course of five months, Berning helped develop the team’s merchandise, website, graphics and other elements of its brand.

In his admittedly limited professional free time, Berning is co-founding a virtual reality company with local technologist Matt Fischer. Called Component Entity, the VR startup is in its early stages and is focusing on building an accessible web-based VR platform. Berning’s role is making sure users understand whay they’re doing.

“It’s my job to make sure that the technology comes to life,” he said.