Editor’s note: This story has been updated to note that the REach program now has more than 140 mentors.
A tech incubator launched by the National Association of Realtors has selected an inaugural group of six companies that will receive mentoring — and potentially funding — to get them started doing business in the real estate industry.
REach, designed for start-ups as well as established companies, is run by NAR’s five-year-old strategic venture arm, Second Century Ventures.
The "tech accelerator" program provides selected companies with exposure and guidance from a select group of more than 140 mentors, including DocuSign Chief Marketing Officer Dustin Grosse and Postlets founder Asher Matsuda. About 500 Realtor product testers will also provide feedback.
More than 130 companies applied for the nine-month program. In addition to email marketing software provider BombBomb, which was selected in January, the companies chosen to participate in the REach program are:
- Lumentus: a social media metrics provider that helps companies focus social media messaging on their brands and missions.
- Planwise: a financial planning service for individuals to visualize, via real-life scenarios, how major life events affect their financial future.
- Reach150: a referral platform that helps individuals manage their online reputations.
- Updater: a free online service consumers can use to easily manage a change-of-address.
- Workface: a live chat — via text, audio or video — software platform that facilitates one-on-one communication with a client in real-time at critical points in their decision-making process.
The goal, said REach Managing Director Constance Freedman, is to help the companies establish a footing in the real estate space during the program. Second Century Ventures will invest in those that show the most promise.
"We like companies to be applicable in multiple industries," Freedman said. But the number one criteria for consideration, she said, is that they have a real estate play.
"Each of these startups brings unique potential to serve the real estate market and beyond, underscoring our commitment to supporting the very best companies and technology that can benefit our industry and our membership," said NAR CEO and President Dale Stinton in a statement.
NAR says it will choose up to a dozen companies a year to participate in the new program. After a detailed review of their business models, NAR selected the companies it thought would be able to execute on their plans and their potential to succeed in the real estate industry, the association said.
REach executives are at NAR’s Chicago headquarters this week for an overview of the real estate industry, insight into buyers and sellers’ decision-making patterns, revelation of the general layout of the real estate technology landscape and an introduction to industry best practices.
Realtors who want to beta test some of this year’s REach companies’ services and tools can visit the REach website here to sign up for the program’s "test kitchen."