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What is a Real Estate Technology Accelerator?

April 11 2013

nar reachIf you've been paying attention to industry news lately, you've probably heard the term "technology accelerator" in reports. NAR runs one called REach™, and even Inman News has jumped into the game, announcing Inman Incubator earlier this month.

So what is a tech accelerator? In short, it's a program that helps young technology companies grow by providing them with education, mentorship and, in some cases, funding. In the case of REach™, the program specifically grooms companies for success within the real estate industry.

Teaching Startups About Real Estate

REach™ differs from other incubator programs in a few key ways, foremost being NAR's stewardship. By supporting companies that can, in turn, support its 1,000,000 members with innovative new technology, the National Association of REALTORS® looks to secure the future of itself and the industry at large.

That support includes intensive education on things like execution strategies, how to measure success, and insight into the real estate customer. "There are some intricacies and nuances of the industry that we need to understand at a deeper level," says Conor McCluskey, founder of BombBomb, the first company admitted to REach's class of 2013. "Overall, we expect to benefit from the relationships we'll make with industry leaders, with brokers and agents, and with like-minded companies serving the industry."

REach™ provides participants with access to high level industry mentors, as well. Mentors include top REALTORS® and brokers, and executives from prominent real estate technology companies like DocuSign and Move, Inc.

Scott Fisher of SentriLock is one of the those mentors. "We have ample experience to share," he says. "Nascent companies often need a bootstrap to get from idea or working concept into the market. SentriLock was exactly in the same situation 10 years ago."

Other mentors provide guidance drawn from both the technology sphere and actual working experience on the ground in real estate. "zipForm is the oldest REALTOR® owned company," says Lisa Mehelcich, COO of zipLogix. "We have over 20 years of industry knowledge. To leverage that industry capital and to be able to share with others can only help the industry."

Meet the Class of 2013

If you're going to any major real estate conference this year, you'll get the chance to meet the seven startups in REach's Class of 2013. The true story of this inaugural group's foray into real estate, however, is bookended by NAR Midyear in May and NAR Annual in November.

The Class of 2013 will be officially unveiled at a "Demo Day" at Midyear in Washington, D.C. Their nine month journey will culminate at second demo day at NAR Annual in November. Between those two shows, the goal is for each company to have "honed in on a product that makes sense for real estate. We want each company to have a product that agents really need and want," says Constance Freedman, REach™ Founder and Managing Director.

REach™ wants to be able to present case studies, success stories, and customer attainment metrics at NAR Annual in in order to show the growth of each company, according to Freedman. Other conferences on the REach™ schedule include the Century 21 Leadership Retreat in June and Inman Connect in July.

Are you ready to meet the REach Class of 2013? Take a look at the seven companies that made the cut:

  • BombBombBombBomb – A complete email marketing platform to make, send, and track the results of both traditional emails and video emails from any device.
  • Reach150Reach150 – An innovative referral platform to obtain and distribute testimonials, referrals and references for service professionals throughout social networks.
  • WorkfaceWorkface – A Company on a mission to humanize business on the web. Workface literally give a "face" to your Company on your website through a unique combination of real-time presence and communication tools including text, audio and video chat.
  • UpdaterUpdater – Updater's mission is to make your move easier, more efficient and cost-effective by giving you a one stop shop to update addresses not only for USPS but for all your databases.
  • PlanwisePlanwise – A service that provides the ability for individuals to financially plan life events using software to vent and test real-life scenarios.
  • LumentusLumentus – Provides a social media management tool that allows their customers to help their constituents use social media while staying on brand, mission, and within any regulatory requirements.
  • Treater – Mobile social gifting app that enables you to give something real from your smartphone. The recipient instantly receives the Treat which is redeemable from their smartphone at the merchant or restaurant via a digital payment card. Treater is an excellent way to convert prospects into clients, introduce clients to a new neighborhood, or stay top of mind after the sale.

Will you be following the progress of these seven companies over the next several months? What advice would you offer on providing a product that agents and brokers want to use?

Other articles of interest: Top Producer IDX | Birdview IDX