Announced in 2012, the National Association of Realtors’ REach tech incubator is now accepting applications for the 2015 class. Before much was known of the accelerator, the program drew criticism from outside investors and incubators that considered the program a marketing revenue stream for NAR.
Fast forward three years, and we have to ask: was that critique accurate? Yes and no.
What has changed?
The REach program has not changed much. It still operates exclusively on returns, never on NAR member dues, and the goal remains to accelerate brands that stand to break into the real estate industry and beyond. What has changed, is that the model has been clarified and proven – much of the early criticism was against charging very early stage startups for involvement, but REach is clearly not designed for kids in hoodies with an idea of how they’ll be bigger than Facebook.
Constance Freedman is the Founder and Managing Director at REach(TM) as well as the Managing Director at Second Century Ventures and is the Vice President of Strategic Investments at NAR. In other words, she’s in charge. She tells us that the program has evolved, and been “enhanced,” not only because of a positive reception from the industry, but a surge in the number of mentors in the program, with over 250 “truly engaged” mentors now involved, more than five times the number of mentors they began with.
Additionally, the insight panel of beta users that these startups have access to has grown from roughly 600 during the first class to 2,500 now. While the model hasn’t changed, it has been made clear that, as Freedman said, “this is not a typical accelerator – we pick up where others leave off,” accelerating a company into the extremely complex real estate industry and focusing on demo days with customers instead of exclusively focused on raising capital, as other accelerators are.
TIP: Realtors that want access to free tools for their business can sign up to be beta testers on the Insight Panel.
Who should apply for the 2015 class?
REach has begun taking applications for the nine-month accelerator program, and will do so through January 30th, 2015.
Tech companies should apply if they want “intense exposure” to the $1 trillion real estate market of over 100,000 small- and medium-sized businesses that generate $12.5 billion in advertising spends annually.
REach explains that they offer “education, mentorship, and exposure for technology companies to enter into the trillion-dollar real estate market, advance their businesses, and expand into adjacent markets such as insurance, mortgage and financial services. The program has attracted technology startups of all types, ranging from big data and marketing automation to business productivity and lead generation companies. The program accepts companies in a wide variety of growth stages, not just early-stage companies.”
Previous classes of REach include a company that raised more than $20 million before entering the program, another with a revenue run rate greater than $10 million, and graduates from other accelerator programs, including Y Combinator.
With previous classes, they’ve proven their value, and graduates have given us endlessly positive feedback. Freedman tells us that all of their 2013 class grew between 100 and 1,000 percent, and the 2014 graduating class seeing an average of 90 percent growth. That is acceleration.
Progress has been made, the model proven, and criticism quelled. It will be interesting to watch the program for growth and innovation in coming years.