Sydney-based tech start-up Peeractive is the first Australian company to be admitted into US accelerator program DreamIt Ventures, and is the only international team in this year’s program.
Peeractive, founded in 2009 by Nick Rosenthal and David Stein, has developed social commerce technology that uses real-time analytics to engage users in an interactive shopping environment.
Prices are personalised to each user and adjust in real-time to compel shoppers to make a purchase and increase conversion rates for online retailers.
On Monday, the Peeractive team began work at DreamIt – a three-month accelerator program based in Philadelphia – which provides start-ups with seed funding, mentors and contacts.
The start-up will have access to the DreamIt eCommerce advisory board, made up of executives from Walmart, QVC, American Express and other leading online retailers.
Peeractive is the first Australian company to be accepted into the program. There are 13 other companies this year, all of which are US-based, making Peeractive the only international team.
While it’s unknown how many applicants there were, a previous round attracted as many as 500 hopefuls. DreamIt invests $25,000 into every selected start-up in return for a 6% stake.
“Those funds will be used for a user interface specialist to help us refine the concept. We’re also in the process of hiring additional developers and designers who can help us,” Rosenthal says.
The DreamIt program will end on December 14. Peeractive, which currently consists of four team members, plans to launch its first product in Australia and the US before that date.
Rosenthal says the program is exactly what he expected.
“Monday was the first day, and it’s been work and sleep since then, and that’s about it… It’s been exactly what we were hoping for,” he says.
“They do their best not to direct you but support you. It’s very interesting in that sense. If we go to them with a question in terms of business strategy, they don’t say, ‘You should do this or you should do that’.”
There are seven managing partners in the program. On top of that, each start-up receives guidance from an external mentor.
According to Rosenthal, Peeractive almost didn’t make it into the program.
“We were late in the application process and they ended up pushing us through anyway. They made exceptions for us to make sure we could be part of the program,” he says.
“It was a crazy couple of days. We had 48 hours to decide and, three weeks later, we’re here.”
While Rosenthal and his team are enjoying their DreamIt experience, they intend to return to Australia.
“The plan is absolutely to return and for us to be headquartered out of Australia, and operate in as many other countries as we can,” he says.
“The USA will be one of the big ones for us as well as the UK and wider Europe. China and India are also big ones on the list.”