MOTIVE Accelerator Program to Fund, Mentor Real Estate Technology Start-ups

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John Backes and Candy Evans at a January RealTech event in Deep Ellum. Photo: Candy Evans
John Backes and Candy Evans at a January RealTech event in Deep Ellum. Photo: Candy Evans

Tuesday night, 200 people gathered at RealTech Dallas for a big announcement for Dallas real estate professionals.

John Backes, a young real estate entrepreneur and innovator, is launching Texas’ only real estate technology accelerator this fall. The MOTIVE Accelerator Program will fund selected commercial real estate (CRE) technology start-ups, as well as provide mentoring through a program oriented around customer and product development. The program is accepting applications for its first class to launch this fall.

“Dallas is the best place in the world to innovate at the intersection of real estate and technology,” said Backes, MOTIVE Partners President (we will be profiling him here on CandysDirt tomorrow, so be sure to check back!). “Two of the top five real estate CRMs are based in Dallas. RealPage is here. CBRE Innovation Lab is here. JLL [Jones Lang LaSalle] tech group is here. Trammell Crow is here. Dozens of startups are here. Dallas real estate tech is one of the great untold stories of our city.”

MOTIVE will fund up to 10 selected commercial real estate technology start-ups each year, investing approximately $40,000 in each venture. Applications are open now, on a rolling basis, with increasingly active interest from both start-ups and industry veterans.

“We really are interested in the best teams, reflecting what is important to us: intensive focus on the lean entrepreneurial process, a strong and cohesive team, a give-before-you-get mentality, and strong desire to change the built environment,” said Backes.

Applicants for the MOTIVE Accelerator Program will be asked to supply detailed information on their organization’s founders, who their target customers are, and what problem their products will solve. They must also provide details on how they are organized and what existing funds are in place.

Acceptance into an accelerator is a huge boost for entrepreneurs, and these organizations have been growing steadily in the last five years. Forbes found more than 200 accelerators when ranking the best for 2015. Research mentioned in the article found that accelerators can increase early stage capital in a region by 13 times, and serve to attract more entrepreneurs, mentors, and investors.

The MOTIVE mentor network includes experts from industry leaders like Trammel Crow, CBRE, Hillwood, VTS (ViewTheSpace), DisruptCRE, ManagedByQ, and REthinkCRM. It also includes more than 100 mentors from the Dallas Entrepreneur Center, who will lend their expertise to fledgling companies.

The organization’s website is up at and includes the opportunity to register as an advisor.

“Mentorship is a crucial part of any accelerator effort,” said MOTIVE COO Sean Caho. “We’re thrilled to see this outpouring of support from the community and people in the industry for these innovators.”

MOTIVE will announce a number of partnerships in the coming weeks, including a global venture capital firm, a major real estate technology conference, and some of the prominent players in Dallas’s vibrant entrepreneurial community.

“We look forward to being a key feature in Dallas’s startup landscape for years to come, cultivating the regional real-estate-technology story,” Backes said.

We’ve written about Backes before, in his role as a co-founder of RealTech Dallas (read the article here). Twelve months ago, Backes and Caho started the event, which brings together the startup community with the real estate industry.

“We witnessed the power of events for early stage companies firsthand through events like Dallas New Tech and Startup Grind. But our hypothesis was that real estate technology companies really needed relationships with real estate industry connectors and veterans, so we launched RealTech,” said Caho, who has a venture capital and design background.

RealTech has since grown into an international event series in four cities, including Dallas, Toronto, NYC, and Los Angeles.

“Developing the RealTech network gave us an incredible window into the early stage technology space,” said Backes. “We had initially planned to launch in Austin, but our network there told us, “No, launch in Dallas, all of our customers are there, we’ll come to you!”

Over two dozen Dallas startups, including Glass Media, RentEval, and SkyRise, have now gone through the RealTech pitch event.

MOTIVE is a natural evolution of the RealTech idea.

After their fall launch, they are partnering with a major real estate technology conference to bring the entire real estate tech conversation to Dallas in November. MOTIVE start-ups will be able to pitch in front of real estate technology professionals and investors from all over the country on a two-day event Nov. 18-19.

“Look for MOTIVE to catalyze innovation in technology for the real estate industry—not just in Dallas, but industry-wide,” said Caho. “Its launch will establish a collaborative connection between established firms and new ideas that are ready for prime time.”



Leah Shafer

Leah Shafer is a content and social media specialist, as well as a Dallas native, who lives in Richardson with her family. In her sixth-grade yearbook, Leah listed "interior designer" as her future profession. Now she writes about them, as well as all things real estate, for

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