Do Tech Accelerators Go Far Enough?

Key Takeaways

  • Tech accelerators and incubators are popping up in the real estate tech space —offering to provide physical workspace, networking, funding, and more.

  • While startup’s often have great, inspiring ideas —do they have enough business savvy (or the time to dedicate to all the facets of business) to really be GREAT at everything?

  • Is partnering with an accelerator key to getting game-changing ideas to market?

  • Accelerators are as much startups as the startups themselves, and must continue to evolve.


Generally speaking, tech startups are established by bright people (and I know a few of them) who identify a need and come up with innovative ways to fill it. They’re not usually started by MBAs with a firm grasp of the intricacies of running a business, but just a normal Jane with a great idea.

Accelerators and incubators have been an important factor in the success of a lot of tech startups. They provide a physical workspace, networking, funding, and other support. They’ve been a critical element in giving tech startups the space to do what they do best: innovate and develop their ideas.

I would caution, though, that startups cannot thrive unless the accelerator can help these fledgling companies to learn the business of doing business. Tech entrepreneurs are skilled at developing and testing their ideas, but what about managing schedules, creating business plans, handling marketing, knowing the right people in the industry they’re trying to market to, and the myriad other details that go into running a business?  If they’re struggling to manage all of these alone, their work will suffer.

Do accelerators help fledgling co’s learn the business of doing business?
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Fortunately, some of the leading tech accelerators get this. They encourage the startup’s development by providing the back office support that they need. The CRE industry includes some prime examples of tech accelerators that nurture startups in a way that sets them up for long-term success.

REach

This program, managed by the National Association of REALTORS, is a leading accelerator of companies with solutions for real estate. The program is backed by Second Century Ventures (SCV), a venture capital fund focused on promoting innovation in the real estate industry and helping to enable the entrepreneurial spirit of real estate thrive.

The educational component of REach is impressive. Their curriculum includes insights to communication and planning, as well as these business topics:

  • Getting to scale

  • Monetization strategy  

  • Success metrics

  • Lead generation, tracking and conversions

  • Business economics

  • SEO/SEM

  • Investor opportunities

  • Term sheets

The accelerator is currently in its 3rd year, and its graduates are making a name for themselves. One example is Sindeo, a new approach to mortgage brokering.

MetaProp NYC

This accelerator is launching its second class, and also specializes in real estate tech startups. They accept up to 25 companies each year, and this year’s “anchor startup” will be Flip, which helps people find someone to take over their lease.

In addition to Class A office space in New York City, MetaProp provides extensive opportunity for learning how to “do business.” They offer advisor services that cover strategy, fundraising, media relations and PR, in-house recruiting, business development, sales and digital marketing.

Elmspring

This is an accelerator that invests in tech startups “who aim to disrupt the real estate and housing industry.” They’re interested in working with companies addressing many different aspects of CRE: housing, brokerage (commercial & residential), smart home automation, multi-family, hospitality, college housing, place and space making, smart office, planning, construction, and more. Their 4th session starts in December 2016.

In addition to funding, Elmspring provides administrative assistance and legal and marketing support, as well as business training and workshops.  Some of their participants have included Realync, Property Carnivores, and FootTrafficker.

With this kind of leadership in the real estate startup camp, there’s a lot of reason to be optimistic that innovative companies will get the tools they need to keep their own business running smoothly. This is critical to ensuring that their game-changing ideas see the light of day.

But, tech accelerators are as much startups as the startups themselves. They’re going to have to keep up with the times and evolve, too. As many more products come online that compete with each other—or are completely new—there’s going to be needed much more focus on helping the right ones succeed.

Tech accelerators are as much startups as the startups themselves!
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As a tech investor myself, as well as someone who has been involved in starting and owning many businesses, I wish there was this type of support and mentoring system available for me at the time. Kudos to those keeping the ideas —and the support— flowing!