The News Funnel Spotlight: Andrew Ackerman of Dreamit Urbantech
On this week's Spotlight, The News Funnel is excited to feature Andrew Ackerman, Managing Director at Dreamit Urbantech. Since the launch of Dreamit Urbantech in 2017, Andrew has been closely involved with proptech and construction startups, leading them through the process of pitching to investors and securing funding. Outside of commercial real estate, you might find Andrew skiing or enjoying a good book. Read on to learn more about Andrew:
Tell us your name, where you are from, and a little about yourself:
Andrew Ackerman, born in Israel to American parents and raised in the US since age 2. Started in consulting, founded 2 startups and worked at a family office in between. I have been at Dreamit Ventures for the past 6 years, first to run Dreamit’s New York office, then to relaunch Dreamit Edtech in 2016 and then to launch Dreamit Urbantech in 2017.
I still have no idea what I’ll be when I grow up.
What do you do in CRE?
My role is to find great startups to invest in, to prep them for customer pitches and connect them to our network of over 85 “Customer Sprint” partners, and then to prep them for the two week, bicoastal “Investor Sprint.” When they secure a lead investor, I then work with the fund team to decide if and how much to invest in those startups.
Along the way, I talk to and work with a lot of people in CRE who are trying to nurture internal innovation and source external innovation (viz., by partnering with startups). I'd like to think that I've learned a few things about what works... and what does not.
Tell us more about your role at Dreamit:
I run Dreamit Urbantech. Dreamit invests in post-revenue, pre-Series A startups. We also run a pre-investment program for these more mature startups to help them scale by making targeted introductions. In addition to helping us attract great startups, this program lets us see how our Customer Sprint and Investor Sprint partners react to the startups and how the startups are able to close these leads before we invest. The program is an integral part of our due diligence process and gives us a level of insight that is simply not possible within a traditional VC structure.
Dreamit is currently investing out of Dreamit Fund III.
How long have you been working in CRE?
I’ve been at Dreamit since 2014 but only focused on proptech and construction tech since 2017. I guess I still have a lot to learn. ☺
When did you know you wanted to work in CRE, or how did you get involved?
Truthfully, it kind of snuck up on me. We’d proved out our new program model for working with more mature startups with Dreamit Edtech and had transitioned Dreamit Health over to that model. Around the same time, Jeff Vinik became the lead investor in Dreamit Fund III and we got to know the $3B “Water Street Tampa” urban renovation project he was backing. Dreamit had been interested in the proptech sector for a while and access to the network of potential customers associated with that project formed the potential nucleus of a Customer Sprint network.
As we dug deeper into what we originally called “Metrotech” (now Urbantech), we learned that early stage investment activity was almost exactly where Healthtech was back in 2012, the year before we launched Dreamit Health. Urbantech appeared poised for the same kind of explosive growth as Healthtech experienced so we jumped in with both feet.
Outside of CRE, what do you like to do?
I also like residential. And construction. ☺
I also ski and read a lot. Just not at the same time.
How long have you been skiing?
I started skiing in high school and ceased being a danger to myself and everyone around me a few years later.
Tell a funny or interesting story from a past skiing trip:
I met a recruiter on a ski lift who, once she knew what I did, pitched me on starting an Edtech accelerator for (and based in) the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. I pointed out that I’m Jewish and that my wife likes to drive. Not sure which of those killed the deal.
What is one piece of advice that you would offer to the person reading this?
Don’t believe everything you read.
Actually, I’m serious about that. It’s all too easy to discover or come up with an idea and only see the evidence that supports that thesis. Everything else is an outlier or a special case. If you feel like you are falling in love with an idea – for a startup, as a potential investment, whatever – take the time to look for disconfirming data. Look hard for facts that don’t fit, that challenge the thesis. Do everything you can to break that idea. If it survives, it’s earned your love.
Contact Andrew Ackerman here.
This is not a paid promotion.