NAR picks 8 startups for ‘REach’ tech accelerator class of 2014

Firms pay marketing fee, give up equity stake for access to mentoring, real estate connections

The National Association of Realtors has announced the eight members that will comprise the class of 2014 for its tech accelerator program, REach.

Now in its second year, the program, run by NAR’s 6-year-old investment wing, Second Century Ventures LLC, provides a select group of firms access to nearly 200 mentors like DocuSign’s founder, Tom Gonser, and NRT LLC’s senior vice president of marketing, Dan Barnett.

Hatched image via Shutterstock.
Hatched image via Shutterstock.

Like the inaugural class of seven startups, this year’s group of startups will also have access to feedback from hundreds of Realtor beta testers and get access to NAR’s real estate contacts, giving them the opportunity to pitch their products and services to some of the biggest names in the industry.

REach’s 2014 class includes:

  • Back At You Media — a lead generation and communication technology for social media.
  • Deductr — an app that helps independent contractors and small-business owners automatically track expenses, mileage and time, making the task of tax deductions easier.
  • Desktime — a service that helps brokers, business owners and landlords build relationships and turn unused office space into cash.
  • FundWell — a service that connects small businesses with prequalified lenders who will fund their real estate needs and business expansion plans.
  • Goby — a “software as a service” platform that tracks energy utilization in buildings to optimize efficiency and regulatory reporting.
  • SendHub — a service that turns any phone into a full-featured business telephone.
  • SmartZip Analytics — a real estate analytics and predictive marketing service.
  • WeVideo — an online collaborative video-editing application.

Unlike other incubator programs, REach is not focused on helping participating firms raise money. Instead, it’s aimed at helping companies grow revenue, by tweaking their products to best fit the industry, and by providing networking channels to get them face to face with decision-makers, the program’s managing director, Constance Freedman, told Inman News.

The program is not free for participating startups. They pay a marketing fee to Second Century Ventures that totals up to $25,000, and hand over equity stakes of between 2 and 5 percent in order to participate.

“We designed REach to help early-stage companies realize ideas that serve the real estate market and beyond,” said NAR CEO Dale Stinton, who also serves as president of Second Century Ventures, in a statement.

Freedman called the first year of the program, which included seven companies — BombBomb, Treater, Lumentus, Planwise, Reach150, Updater and Workface — a success. Five of those companies landed big deals with major brands, Freedman said.

Lumentus signed a deal with Better Homes and Garden Real Estate; BombBomb made deals with several large brands; and Reach150 established deals with several brokerages affiliated with Keller Williams Realty, Coldwell Banker Real Estate and Century 21 Real Estate, Freedman said.

In addition, Second Century Ventures revealed in January that it chose to invest an unnamed amount of cash in one of its 2013 REach members, Planwise, in exchange for a larger ownership stake.


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