Photo: RealTech Dallas

John Backes, left, at the RealTech Dallas event “Cultivate: Building the Next Big Thing in Real Estate.” Photo: RealTech Dallas

John Backes is a young real estate entrepreneur, technology innovator, and champion of the city of Dallas. He practically vibrates with energy and ideas, and has a sort of raw enthusiasm that’s utterly sincere and unscripted.

The St. Mark’s grad is passionate about bringing new ideas to the real estate community by collaborating with the active start-up community in Dallas. That motivation is showing up in myriad ways in his life.

As we wrote about yesterday, he is launching the MOTIVE Accelerator Program this fall. This exciting program will fund selected commercial real estate technology start-ups, as well as provide mentoring through a program oriented around customer and product development.

Backes was also the co-founder of RealTech Dallas 12 months ago, which brings together the startup community with the real estate industry.

His new company, DXZ Media, is a full-service branding and digital marketing agency that aims to solve complex problems related to technology, identity, and strategy.

Sound like a full plate? It’s not even the beginning. He’s also a mentor at the The Dallas Entrepreneur Center and advisor at PoshPublic, a curated crowdfunding platform which allows artists or nonprofits to create a campaign at no upfront cost and no risk. There’s so much more. And the ideas just keep coming.

“We have an incredible story here in Dallas of innovative real estate companies, and so many tech start-ups, too. There was so much vibrancy, but no intersection,” Backes said. “Every day, I feel like I’m in a very dynamic center of change.”


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.


If it appears that apartments are going up on every street corner in Dallas, well, they are. The Dallas-Fort Worth are is going to be the nation’s top apartment leasing market over the next three years, according to a new report by the folks at Jones Lang LaSalle.

Perhaps you, like me, see the cranes and scaffolding and think, gee we need them now but by the time they are completed…maybe there will be no more renters?

Apartments for leaseNo worries: Jones Lang LaSalle researchers predict there will be enough renter demand — too much, in fact, so that the new supply still won’t keep up with the increased demand. The bulk of the rental units are going up in central Dallas, Lewisville, Las Colinas, the Allen-McKinney area, North Fort Worth and Denton, this according to MPF Research reports.

You see, as Steve Brown pointed out today,

“D-FW, Houston, Atlanta and Phoenix are ranked as the top net leasing markets for apartments through 2017, in the new report.”

It’s all about job growth, which spurs household growth, the guys at JLL told Steve. But they also said that this may be a shocker to the tech-heavy regions — that more jobs and people to lease all these units may be headed our way than to, say, the Bay area.

I was just in San Francisco this weekend, and have never seen such a dearth of apartment housing. Though construction is in progress, it will never keep up with demand. In Palo Alto, Stanford University owns mega land and housing. Young people are desperately looking for affordable apartments, but they are getting $3096 average rents in San Francisco, and a whopping $2128 in Santa Clara County, San Jose, the mecca of high-tech jobs with Google, Paypal, and hundreds of start-ups. Many kids live in group houses, or reverse-commute to San Francisco. Compare that to $862, the average rent for Dallas Fort Worth. But many higher-end and luxury apartments in Dallas are charging closer to the $2000 mark, and getting it!

Steve says about 25,000 apartments are under construction in North Texas – more than any other U.S. metropolitan area. We are a leader in job growth, like Houston and Austin. So I guess those cranes and scaffolds are here to stay.

In Steve’s report, he also said Jones Lang LaSalle has christened the D-FW area as one of the country’s top apartment investment markets: $5.6 billion in sales last year. Guess who saw more apartment sales volume than us: New York, Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles.

Guess that explains why the new CEO of Belks, Salem Boohaker, wants to lease in Uptown. That place is so hot if it had a river, I swear they’d find some landfill, fill it, and just keep on building.