Find any city in America with a booming job market and affordable rent prices, and you’ll find a seemingly endless stream of young Millennials in search of the perfect place to live. Enter Alec Slocum: The CEO and cofounder at ABODO Apartments, an online apartment marketplace designed to help college students find their next off-campus rental.
ABODO’s path to success — more than 30 employees fill out their new office in downtown Madison, Wisconsin, following the company’s recently-raised $4.8 million in Series A — came through a very literal example of an “elevator” pitch. The company nabbed a position in the highly selective accelerator gener8tor when Alec happened to share an elevator ride with the accelerator’s cofounder.
Here’s their story, as told by Alec himself.
What were the factors that made you want to join an accelerator?
“We were on the fence about joining an accelerator, but we’d built a rapidly growing business in Madison and wanted to learn sooner rather than later how effectively it could be scaled. We needed funding. But we also needed access to experienced networks so that our fundraising and scaling processes would be efficient. And gener8tor’s hands-on mentorship approach was perfect for us.”
Talk about the application process and what you learned during that time. How did you get in the door?
“Funny story. I was working at a coworking space in downtown Madison, and just happened — really, this was not planned — to find myself taking an elevator up to the 8th floor with gener8r co-founder Joe Kirgues, who was coming in to do a presentation. The doors opened, the doors closed, and I actually made an elevator pitch. Joe liked the vision behind our company and got us onboard.”
Talk about the benefits of joining a corporate accelerator. Describe what you gained, knowledge, mentorship, etc.
“As first time entrepreneurs with a budding but local business, we mostly needed help learning to rapidly scale a business. Gener8tor provided mentorship as well as networking opportunities. It was really a level-up. And it introduced us to a ton of other young entrepreneurs, start-ups, and out-of-the-box thinkers… not to mention investors.”
What advice would you give founders looking to join a corporate accelerator?
“Know why you’re joining and what you want from the process. An accelerator is not an end in itself — you need to know where you’re trying to go.”
Talk about your milestones and what you gained after graduating from the accelerator.
“The most immediate milestone for ABODO after graduating from gener8tor was about 325k in funding. But the connections and networking opportunities we gained through our time in a corporate accelerator have helped us out immeasurably in the years since we went through the program in 2013. We raised $4.8 million in series A funding last summer, and have grown to a company of 33. With 500,000 active monthly users and markets in 30 major American cities, we’re poised to keep growing.”
Any advice for entrepreneurs within your specific niche/industry?
“Refine your vision. Make sure your company is addressing a specific, real need, and that you’re addressing that need in a new way. Be concise and clear. You should be able to explain what you do in your sleep… or an elevator.”