Announcing the First Class of the Colliers Proptech Accelerator Powered by Techstars

This year, ten startups from around the world convene in Toronto, Canada for this first global proptech accelerator – Techstars Class 151.

We are thrilled to announce and welcome the first ten companies to Colliers Proptech Accelerator Powered by Techstars. The program will kick-off September 10th in Toronto, Canada with our Demo day on December 4th.

Earlier this year, I set out to find ten world-class teams who like us, believe that some of the hardest problems yet to be solved within real estate represent some of our biggest opportunities. Each startup in our class of ten has been carefully selected for investment based on their approach to near-term, value-enhancing opportunities as well as longer-term opportunities that, with strong technology platforms, will help push current industry boundaries.

Our global search resulted in ten companies representing eight cities in seven countries. They were selected from a strong global applicant pool focused around real estate in a broad context.

Over the next 13 weeks, the class will refine their business, build and gain traction with the market, while accelerating their fundraising strategy and developing their Demo Day presentations. Through this process, the startups will work closely with a global network of mentors from Colliers and from the broader real estate industry, successful entrepreneurs and venture capitalists. At the conclusion of the program, each startup will present to investors and mentors at Demo Day on December 4, 2018.

I would like to thank our mentors, sponsors, partners and alumni for their generous support in this process. Special thanks to the team at Colliers for their true commitment to the success of our partnership.

Without further ado, here are the 2018 companies:

A Retail Space 

New York City, NY, US

A Retail Space finds the perfect location for your business through data.

Basking Automation 

Berlin, Germany

Basking.io is an ROI-driven occupancy analytics platform for  flexible office space providers and corporate real estate managers.

Booqed 

Hong Kong, China

Booqed is a digital marketplace for flexible space, helping to connect businesses needing places to work, meet or have an event – with landlords seeking to monetise under-utilised space

Lane 

Toronto, Canada

Lane is a tenant experience platform designed to build community, connectivity and engagement at any office building.

MapYourProperty 

Toronto, Canada

MapYourProperty is a Zillow for Real Estate Land Development, simplifying the planning and development process to a 3-click solution.

Propstack 

Mumbai, India

Propstack is a real estate data & analytics company which has integrated the largest government sourced verified database across Asia Pacific. This has helped create market transparency, predict trends, save time and optimize returns.

Raybased 

Göteborg, Sweden

Raybased provides Commercial Building Owners a smart building control platform that leverages wireless technology to enable predictive maintenance of key building systems.

RefineRE 

Dallas, TX, USA

RefineRE leverages real-time market data to provide CRE portfolio intelligence for organizations looking to make smarter, better and faster decisions about buying, selling, leasing, expanding, or downsizing their property footprint.

SPCE 

London, UK

SPCE partners with universities and higher education bodies to enhance their student experience, by becoming their first point of call for the provision of off-campus student accommodation in the UK and North America.

Upsuite 

Denver, CO, US

Where teams go to find coworking spaces.








Ben Liao Joins Techstars as Managing Director for the Colliers Proptech Accelerator

I attribute much of my own success achieved throughout my career to having surrounded myself with some of the smartest and most talented people. Some of these individuals were very uniquely skilled and it was by sharing ideas, working together, learning from each other, experimenting and failing, that we were able to solve some of the most complex problems in order to create extraordinarily successful outliers. It’s not every day you find yourself building a startup that has a trajectory of becoming a global category leader.

Most recently, at Ritual, I was fortunate to work with a world class team with remarkable achievements in expansion and hyper-growth beyond our investor’s expectations and they, at Greylock Partners and Insight Venture Partners, have seen their fair share of top-tier companies (Ritual raises $60 million for global expansion).

Upon reflecting on my time at Ritual, what I found deeply gratifying was helping solve some of the most ambiguous early-stage problems that often plague many startups and then subsequently sharing these learning lessons with new city teams or founders at other startups who were often seeing these challenges for the first time. Despite the long hours and travel involved, I found ways of getting involved with meetups or startup communities to share/learn startup lessons with others and it wasn’t long before I came across Techstars.

I’ve known the Techstars team for a while now and I initially began as a mentor for the Techstars Toronto Accelerator. Needless to say, I was highly impressed with the caliber of Techstars, their network of mentors along with the leadership team. The mission #givefirst really resonated with me and I quickly knew this would be something I wanted to spend more time on.

There’s no time like the present! When the Techstars leadership team contacted me recently about the upcoming Colliers Proptech Accelerator, it felt like the perfect opportunity to focus more of my energy, passion and time. I won’t bore you with my favourite quotes here but, if I were to describe the feeling in one word, it certainly felt serendipitous. Though my career spans over a decade working with startups and large enterprise with a focus on innovation, growth and new market entry, the last five years have been far the most exciting.

I’ve had the privilege to help several companies as an early-stage investor, mentor and board observer as well as my aforementioned role at Ritual. During this time, I was also extremely fortunate to build working relationships with leadership teams at many global commercial real estate organizations.

As remarkable as all that has been for me, I’m about to embark on my most exciting venture yet – I’m thrilled to be joining Techstars as Managing Director for the Colliers Proptech Accelerator Powered by Techstars in Toronto.

Why I’m so excited about the Colliers Proptech Accelerator

Deep Industry Global Partner Network

I am excited for the incredible opportunity to unite pioneering entrepreneurs with Colliers and Techstars. Together, we will uncover and shape enterprising solutions for the commercial real estate industry. The Colliers Proptech Accelerator Powered by Techstars will be a first-of-its-kind program with a global focus. I can think of no better way to begin this journey than partnering with the leading global real estate services company. With over 15,000 skilled professionals operating in 69 countries, we’ll have a diverse set of 80-100 mentors with broad representation across commercial real estate, leading proptech companies, angels, VCs, strategic investors and others to cover all aspects of our cohorts mentorship needs.

Our inaugural class of 10 proptech companies will have unprecedented access to industry leaders, which will help them overcome probabilistic early-stage hurdles (i.e. speculation if real estate customers will adopt emerging technologies and services) towards a more deterministic outcome. Through the Colliers leadership network and real estate introductions, we hope these will help provide the right contacts leading to commercial pilots, partnerships or contracts.  As I’ve seen with Ritual, given the right context, these important connections can quickly put any startup on a path to becoming a global category leader.

Industry Timing and Techstars Global Network

Few sectors of the global economy can be characterized as “the last great bastion of the global economy that has not seen tech enabled disruption”. With a massive industry of over $220 trillion in global real estate asset value, timing is critical for startups and though some of the leading real estate players have been slow to adopt technology, we plan on moving quickly on this untapped opportunity. The proptech space has drawn the attention of venture and growth capital in very meaningful ways over the last few years. Investment in proptech startups surged to $9.8 billion in 2017, up from just $546 million in 2013. 2018 will be another record breaking year with top-tier VC’s already making bets and paying close attention.

Alongside a global network of Techstars mentors, we’ll work with you on your fundraising strategy and help you prepare to meet with potential investors, customers, partners and other key stakeholders. I’m excited to work with the broader Techstars team to pull together the most impressive list of mentors and investors proptech has seen to date!

Toronto and the Local Ecosystem

I was born and raised in Toronto though have spent nearly half of my career away from home, in both the U.S. and Europe, before recently returning home to Toronto. I’ve been fortunate to work and and live in countless cities and I can confidently say that Toronto is one of the best communities to build your company (as we did with Ritual). I’m thrilled to see Toronto emerge as one of the fastest-growing tech hubs in North America adding 22,500 tech jobs last year. Without going into too much depth here, I encourage you to read both the section on Toronto in the introduction of Colliers Proptech Accelerator (here) along with the announcement of the first Toronto Accelerator (here) which both articulate why Toronto is now one of the most important tech communities in North America and the global stage!

What we’ll work on together

If you’ve read this far, I hope you are as excited as I am!

You’ve likely sensed this by now, but I’ve made a purposeful decision throughout my career to solve and help others solve very ambitious challenges and that’s what really drives me. I have been humbled and found a deep appreciation working with others on both successes and failures.

Though I’ll be the MD of the Accelerator, more importantly, I hope to be a valuable partner for you in your upcoming journey. As I mentioned, I attribute much of my own success achieved throughout my career to having surrounded myself with some of the smartest and most talented people. I encourage you to do the same and leverage an amazing mentorship network along with a rare opportunity to help you find your own success.

The entire team and I are look forward to working with with you. Applications for the Colliers Proptech Accelerator, Powered by Techstars in Toronto are open now and close May 13th, 2018. Check out the Applications Toolkit and Apply today!

We’ll be hosting an AMA session on April 26th to answer questions you may have about the program, register here to join us. If you miss the AMA, the recording will be available here.








Five Global Techstars Programs Open Applications

Now Accepting Applications to Five Techstars Accelerator Programs Around the World

Techstars has opened applications for five more mentorship-driven accelerator programs in Berlin, New York City, Oslo, Paris and Toronto. Don’t miss your opportunity to grow your business– join the Techstars worldwide network with more than 10,000 mentors, partners, investors and founders. Take the next step and apply now.

The following programs are now accepting applications:  

Three Months, 1,500+ Mentors and a Network That Lasts a Lifetime

The Schedule:

  • Applications Open: February 19, 2018
  • Application Deadline: May 13, 2018
  • Programs Start: September 10, 2018
  • Demo Days: December 5, 2018

Applications are still open for 17 other Techstars global accelerator programs. See the full list here.

Have More Questions? Meet the People who Make it Happen.

Techstars managing directors want to meet you. They’re on the road hosting information sessions and office hours. Here’s a list of all the stops on the Techstars Roadshow where you can sign up for in-person meetings and interactive, online Q&A programming to learn more about specific programs.








Introducing Colliers PropTech Accelerator Powered by Techstars

Techstars is looking for the best entrepreneurs disrupting the PropTech industry for our second accelerator in Toronto: the Colliers PropTech Accelerator Powered by Techstars. The accelerator will run in Q4 2018 with applications opening in February 2018.

The accelerator will focus on solving problems and challenges across the property and  commercial real estate industry – an industry of massive size and reach with total assets of ~$220 trillion worldwide. The possibilities for innovation, disruption and productivity-enhancing opportunities are endless. The partnership combines Techstars expertise in tech innovation, entrepreneurship and a worldwide alumni network with Colliers’ expertise in real estate, enterprising culture and global network. The selected 10 PropTech startups will gain access to this powerful combination accelerating their business plans and funding opportunities while providing innovative solutions to some of this global industries most pressing problems and newest opportunities.

We are excited about the breadth of this industry that touches every aspect of both consumer and business economies. We are interested in any businesses, ideas or solutions that touch the property and commercial real estate value chains. Examples include but are not limited to: efficient marketplaces, big data & advanced analytics applications to commercial real estate, blockchain solutions applied to commercial real estate, commercial real estate FinTech solutions, commercial real estate investor solutions, commercial real estate occupier solutions, AI and machine learning applications for commercial real estate, VR and augmented reality applications. Property and commercial real estate touch every aspect of daily life therefore the possibilities are endless and we are interested in the conversations around that intersection.

Colliers

Colliers is one of the leading global real estate services companies in the world. They have over 15,000 skilled professionals operating in 68 countries. With an enterprising culture and 30 percent employee ownership, Colliers is a unique global organization. Colliers professionals think differently, share great ideas and offer thoughtful and innovative advice that helps clients accelerate their success. Colliers is consistently ranked in the top 100 global outsourcing firms by the International Association of Outsourcing Professionals, more than any other real estate services firm. Colliers also has been ranked the top property manager in the world by Commercial Property Executive for two years in a row. Aon has also ranked Colliers as a platinum level best employer.

Colliers remains committed to being the most enterprising company by developing innovative and value enhancing services for our clients and professionals. The startups accepted into this program will gain unprecedented direct access and mentoring from Colliers’ global network, senior leaders and industry specific opportunities while being able to leverage Colliers’ organization for pilots and partnerships.

Toronto

Toronto is one of the largest metropolitan areas in North America (currently sixth). Toronto placed fourth globally and first in North America for reputation by the Reputation Institute’s (“RI”) “2016 City Reptrak top 10,” a list of the world’s most reputable cities, ranking #1 overall among the best places in the world to live, #2 overall in the category of best place in the world for business, and #3 overall for best target for foreign direct investment. Toronto was the only Canadian city to place within the top ten for best place to invest.

RI’s research suggests the world’s most reputable cities are as safe as they are beautiful. And while Toronto is ranked by The Economist as the safest city in North America, Canada has also been selected as the best place to visit in 2017 by the Lonely Planet. No stranger to praise, Toronto has been named one of the best cities in the world for quality of life, and the best place in the world for youth and millennials.

Business owners and investors in Canada benefit from the most competitive business costs and lowest corporate taxes among G7 countries. That’s why Forbes consistently ranks Toronto the best country for business in the G20. In addition, Toronto is the best place in the world for software developers and is home to one of the tech scene’s most sought after office spaces.

We are extremely excited to be opening our second accelerator in Toronto, continuing to build, contribute and grow this increasingly important tech community in partnership with Colliers.

Get Your Application Ready

Applications open in February and the program begins in September. The 3-month intensive program will conclude with a Demo Day, where the PropTech startups will pitch their businesses to hundreds of global investors. Sign up for updates on this new program!