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The past few years have been tough on America’s real estate market. Every few months, reports trickle in with conflicting conclusions – some lament the continuing struggles in the industry, while others hail a coming upward swing. What everyone agrees on, though, is that the way American approach real estate needs help. That’s why the National Association of Realtors (NAR) partnered with Second Century Ventures (SCV) to create the REach Accelerator program and foster innovative technology companies in this space.
“Real estate is a $1 trillion industry with one of the largest SMB markets and possibly the largest consumer market out there – everybody lives somewhere,” says Constance Freedman, the founder and Managing Director of REach, and also Managing Director of SCV. “[We are] looking to find companies that have the most innovative business and consumer relationship solutions that may be applicable in multiple industries – we can provide guidance as to how companies can bring those solutions to the real estate vertical.”
The nine-month program is accepting applications from companies in all stages through January 10, 2013. Starting in March, industry veterans will provide “intense education, mentorship and guidance,” drawing upon their experience running, managing and selling companies in the real estate vertical to a cohort of six to ten new companies. Freedman believes the exposure generated online and offline – by way of two demo days at the industry’s largest events – will put the accelerator’s participants in position to really reach their targets.
SCV is a subsidiary of NAR, meaning the former’s strategic financial investments all provide benefit to the latter’s members in some way. Together, they’ve collaborated to boost companies like DocuSign, whose eSignature solution has been adopted by the real estate industry, and Ifbyphone, whose Inquire product helps small business manage and track lead responses. With REach, they hope to expand on that success. “We are in a unique position to help companies reach a $1 trillion market with 1 million Realtors, 12 million consumers and $7 billion in ad spend,” Freedman says. She believes REach is the perfect way for companies who are too early for the SCV fund to get going.
Unlike many accelerators, REach will provide free working space in Chicago, but will also offer many aspects of the program virtually for companies that are already established elsewhere. For such ventures, Freedman sees this program as a way to expand into the real estate vertical. By introducing more and smarter people to this industry, she thinks customers will be better served.
“Consumers are smarter, more sophisticated and more data hungry than ever before,” Freedman says. “Never have the stakes for superior customer service been so high – we hope to cultivate companies that will provide the ability to conduct real estate transactions more quickly, more efficiently and with more transparency thus improving every stage of the home buying and selling process.”
Learn more about REach and apply to the accelerator program by visiting www.narREach.com.