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General FAQ

Who started the elmspring accelerator and why?

Elmspring is the brainchild of Thomas Bretz and Adam Freeman, long-time business partners and real estate entrepreneurs. Thomas and Adam own and operate several large, real estate-based businesses. Their experience and leadership in the real estate industry offers startup companies a direct line to valuable knowledge, networks, and investors.

Thomas and Adam are always looking for new ways to move the real estate industry forward while encouraging entrepreneurship. Learn more about them on Our Team page.

How can I apply for the elmspring accelerator program?

Learn more about getting into the accelerator by reviewing the Accelerator page. Online applications are accepted only during open enrollment periods. For more accelerator-related questions and answers visit our Program FAQ page.

How does elmspring protect my intellectual property?

While the elmspring application process will ask you to describe your business plan and concept, you will not be required to reveal any information deemed proprietary. Applications are never made viewable by the public, by current or former client companies, or by non-authorized personnel. Your application will only be read by authorized elmspring personnel, including our Executive Director and Board of Directors.

Can I talk with someone from your office about my idea?

Absolutely. While it may not be possible to accommodate walk-in visits to our office, you can always request a visit to speak with a staff or board member about your concept or the program. If you would like to schedule a meeting, email

During an open application period, please recognize that our staff time will be dedicated to reviewing applications. If you feel that your concept meets our guidelines, we encourage you to apply for the program. This is the best way to ensure that your materials and information get in front of elmspring personnel.

Where is the elmspring office located and what is it like?

Elmspring is currently located in the heart of Chicago’s technology sector inside 1871 at the Merchandise Mart. In addition to sharing space with exceptional programs like TechStars and Impact Engine, our home at 1871 affords us an ideal environment for entrepreneurs to think and grow. Founders accepted into the program will have access to Elmspring’s furnished, private office which includes a six person conference room exclusively for elmspring participants. Check out all the amenities of being an 1871 member on their website or schedule a tour with us. You can also learn more about what Elmspring and 1871 are up to by following us on Twitter and liking us on Facebook.

How is elmspring different from other incubator, accelerator or co-working spaces?

Elmspring offers immediate, guaranteed seed funding upon entry into the program, a dedicated and intimate mentor network, as well as access to real end-user feedback through our proprietary network. Elmspring also does not charge client companies professional fees or rent during their four month sessions.

After the program, elmspring maintains a relationship with graduate companies and will continue to offer them access to professional services and venture capital connections.