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Launch Lean, Grow Strong

The Elmspring Accelerator is an early-stage venture accelerator that supports technology start-ups with a comprehensive network of resources and enterprise development tools. A collaborative effort of  Century 21 Affiliated, Waterton Associates, and Harrison Street Real Estate Group, elmspring has built its program using lean start-up methodology and practices. Companies selected for the program are guided through a fast-tracked three (3) month series of educational and networking opportunities – lead by our founders Thomas Bretz and Adam Freeman. After successful program completion, companies are invited to participate in an investor “demo day” where opportunities for the next round of funding begin.

Beyond demo day, companies receive the benefits of continuous access to elmspring’s robust network of real estate and venture partners. Elmspring is invested in the success of companies from start-up to exit, and will provide ongoing support to help company’s reach beyond expectations.

Elmspring’s goal is to guide young companies through the start-up and growth process, providing them with strong footing for future growth and valuation. To do this we concentrate on customer development, a strong value proposition, smart sales strategies, and a culture of creativity and experimentation.

Program Benefits

The best way to get to know our program is to meet with one of our founders or staff. We select a smaller number of applicants each year because we are specifically looking for the companies that we KNOW we can help. For groups whose product offering we feel we can provide value-added exposure and opportunities we offer:

  • Seed funding: unrestricted $20k investment
  • Access to partner insights: meaningful access to brokers, lenders, investors, property managers, home builders, developers, and much more
  • Mentorship: an open network of industry experts at your finger tips
  • Hi-tech office space: private space at 1871, Chicago’s digital hub
  • Marketing support: immediate strategic support from our partners, Sunbeam Marketing Solutions
  • Legal support: $6,000 in credits from Chicago law-firm Arnstein & Lehr
  • Business training: access to all seminars and sessions offered by 1871 plus a dedicated workshop series exclusively for elmspring participants
  • Administrative assistance: on-site admin support from elmspring staff
  • Demo Day: pitch to strategic partners and investors at demo day


Companies selected for the elmspring accelerator program will represent the best and most in-demand new concepts on the market. These companies may be challenging an existing market or turning the industry on its head with a whole new kind of product. When looking for start-ups that fit the elmspring model we start by assessing each team’s readiness for the program. Specifically, we look at:

  • Product/Services: the product should be differentiated by a well-thought out competitive advantage
  • CEO: the CEO must display strong leadership and execution capabilities
  • Business Model: applicant must display a strong, rational business model that identifies their go-to-market or scaling strategies(as applicable)
  • Market Size: market size should be sufficient enough to support margins for success with revenue modeling to back it up
  • Technology: applicants must leverage existing or new technology as a fundamental component of their operations

At this time we are not accepting applications, please check back for information on our Spring session in December.