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Elmspring invested in attending SXSW in search of Real Estate Tech Startups

Many applications come through various channels here at elmspring. It’s imperative to our accelerator to know what trends and new ideas are percolating in the market. Executive Director, Bob Gillespie and Board member, Kim Kleeman set out to see what Austin’s newest addition, The Startup Village would bring.

To start: Imagine the biggest conference you’ve been to and now multiple it by 5. If there were ONLY one exhibit hall to walk through, instead of 7 different ones it might be just fine. Boy were our feet tired! The conference runs for a few weeks and I’m sure Austin locals stay far away from the conference craziness throughout. But for those of us in search of creative ideas and disruption possibility, this is THE place to be.


What is SXSW Interactive and why was elmspring there?


“The South by Southwest® (SXSW®) Conference & Festivals celebrate the convergence of the interactive, film, and music industries. Fostering creative and professional growth alike, SXSW® is the premier destination for discovery.”


Besides the film and music scene, the growing tech scene was built up even more than previous years. If you’ve never been to SXSW, every square inch of the city of Austin is filled with people and with company logos. Media, Cars, Beer, and Tech companies throw parties and reveal new products. With the downloaded app, elmspring sourcing became much easier.

The Scene

Even with pouring rain and crowded lines, we were able to walk the show and attend the pitches to see the latest in RE Tech. Many times we see duplicates of ideas that have applied, sometimes we see a new take on an idea we’ve seen before, but what gets us really excited is when there’s a great leader with a new idea no one has thought of before.  Hundreds of startups looking for funding, resources, and connections are there to meet with us.


The Companies

“March 12–15. The Trade Show highlights the integrations and overlaps between SXSW’s converging industries, hosting a diverse range of forward-thinking exhibitors ranging from promising startups to established industry leaders.”


Special thanks to Google and Twitter for hosting great networking parties. 4 days of meeting with companies and listening to pitches, made us realize one important thing. This is a place we need to be. Year after year.


Were you at SXSW and missed us? We will be at Collision in May in NOLA. Contact us at to schedule a time to talk and meet our elmspring team. Learn more about us and whether our accelerator is a good fit for your growth plan.


Unblocking Blockchain

You have most likely heard of Bitcoin—the digital currency that has been changing the game in certain industries, mostly finance, since 2009.  The blockchain technology behind it, though, has far more potential uses than retail transactions or asset transfers. If you recall, blockchain is a ledger, or an accounting, of transactions that cannot be modified without it being flagged. You see, the transactions are shared with multiple computers (and users), so changes to the record must be approved by the entire network, thus, making them unlikely to occur. (We can thank the specialized encryption called “cryptographic hashing” for this protective measure.)


Blockchain word with icons as vector illustration


The real estate industry has recently taken notice of the inherent capabilities of blockchain technology and with good reason. Property transactions, involving mortgage documents and title transfers, are not protected from fraudulent activities, require third parties and are, generally, slow and sometimes inefficient. While hard-copy documents are not stored in a blockchain, the technology still has the ability to record, time-stamp, encrypt and solidify transactions in a way that has never been done before.

The Cook County Recorder’s Office has been willing to give blockchain a chance. In a pilot project with tech startup announced this past October, the office began using blockchain technology with property title and other record transfers. The Chicago-based office is the first U.S. government agency to test blockchain technology in their operations. The project’s results and reflections will be shared at a conference in March of this year.

We know that blockchain technology is still the new kid on the scene in terms of real estate uses, but its functions and potential lead us to believe it will soon be the leader of the pack in terms of real estate disruption.


If you have a blockchain start up concept or company needing funding, we’d love to invite you to apply you our upcoming class. Check out more info here.

Calling All Startups! elmspring 2017 Accepting Applications

We are excited to announce that we have officially begun the application and selection process for our next session of the elmspring accelerator, elmspring 2017. The chosen startups will begin the session this summer after an official launch on June 26th.

elmspring 2017 pic

For those that may not be familiar with us, we are an accelerator for startups with game-changing ideas geared toward real estate and related industries. We were founded in 2013 by real estate entrepreneurs and are proud to be the first seed-stage technology accelerator in the country to focus solely on real estate. Our intensive program is four months in duration, and it offers seed capital, access to elmspring’s network of mentors and strategic partners, office space at 1871 Chicago and other professional resources to participants. The program culminates with a Rush event where the startups meet and demonstrate their products for serious investors.

Prior our last Rush event held in October, elmspring 2016 startups closed on $3.3 million in funding. After the Rush event, four companies have received term sheets of $1M or more. Most recently, ParqEx, a private parking marketplace enabling non-commercial parking owners to rent their underutilized parking spots, closed on $1.2 million in funding and announced adding another market in Milwaukee soon. The efforts of last session’s startups also helped us garner a 2016 Chicago Real Estate Housing Innovation Award from the Home Builders Association of Greater Chicago.

We welcome marketable and truly innovative ideas related to real estate. The following are some of the areas we have special interest in:

  • Housing
  • Brokerage (commercial and residential)
  • Smart Home Automation
  • Multifamily
  • Hospitality
  • College Housing
  • Place and Space Making
  • Smart Office
  • Planning
  • Construction
  • Elder Care Housing Solutions
  • Block Chain solutions

If you are an interested startup, visit our Home page for a direct link to the application. And if you know of a qualified startup who might benefit from taking part in elmspring 2017, please pass the word or share this blog. You may also contact us with any questions at


We look forward to the next session of innovation!