The National Association of REALTORS®’ REACH Labs program, which identifies and connects innovative early-stage startups to the REALTOR® community, recently announced its expansion to Chicago to launch its first multi-association and multiple listing service (MLS) REACH Lab. Collectively representing over 46,000 REALTORS®, the new REACH Lab will be jointly run by the Mainstreet Organization of REALTORS®, the Chicago Association of REALTORS®, the North-Shore Barrington Association of REALTORS® and Midwest Real Estate Data (MRED).
Chicago represents a deep pool of startup innovation, with local tech firms raising $7 billion in 2021, according to venture data firm Pitchbook. Through the REACH Labs program, Chicagoland startups developing solutions for real estate and adjacent industries like mortgage, home services and insurance have a significant opportunity to connect with thousands of real estate professionals.
“Chicagoland has an incredible technology ecosystem, and the Mainstreet Organization of REALTORS® is committed to bringing opportunities to our members that keep them on the cutting edge,” said Kate Sax, vice president of professionalism and career development for the Mainstreet Organization of REALTORS®. “REACH Labs will allow us to connect Mainstreet members with new technologies and provide them with a path of entry to local startups that will help build their businesses with an eye on the future.”
The REACH Labs program helps REALTOR® associations engage with the startup community and source innovation for its members efficiently and effectively. REACH Labs are staffed and operated by local associations or MLSs with support from the REACH scale-up program, created in 2013 by NAR’s venture arm, Second Century Ventures. Each REACH Lab presents selected startups to their members through quarterly “innovation showcases.” REACH Labs Chicagoland will host its first innovation showcase in the fourth quarter of 2022.
“Chicagoland is rich in new technology, and the Chicago Association of REALTORS® is excited to help bring emerging technology to REALTORS® throughout the area,” said Zack Wahlquist, the Chicago Association of REALTORS®’ chief operating officer.
In other regions where REACH Labs is already established, REALTORS® have connected with tech companies that modernize the home tour experience, allow agents to manage deals more seamlessly from start to finish and provide homebuyers with connections to local contractors.
“MRED is always looking to serve the industry and provide products that improve our subscribers’ workflow,” said Katrina Bressler, director of customer experience at MRED. “While we already work with many wonderful providers across the country, I’m excited to be a part of a movement that enables local startups to connect with us and support our subscribers and community.”
“The North-Shore Barrington Association of REALTORS® (NSBAR) has a long history of supporting its members through our personalized service and tech support,” said Michael Gazdzik, NSBAR IT and member support director. “We could not be more excited to work with our neighboring associations to bring the latest in technology to all our members.”
“We are thrilled to establish the first multi-association REACH Labs program in Chicago, where the startup scene is thriving,” said Dave Garland, managing partner, Second Century Ventures. “This partnership will set the stage for tech entrepreneurs to scale their businesses by meeting the needs of a dynamic REALTOR® community.”
Second Century Ventures, NAR’s strategic technology investment arm, launched the REACH Labs program in the third quarter of 2021 with the Austin Board of REALTORS®, the Denver Metro Association of REALTORS®, the Miami Association of REALTORS® and the Northern Virginia Association of REALTORS®. It has expanded the program to include the Greater Tampa REALTORS®, the Metro Texas Association of REALTORS®, the Orlando Regional REALTOR® Association and the multi-association Chicagoland program, extending the program to reach nearly 200,000 REALTORS®.
For more information, please visit www.nar.realtor.