How To Model Like a Deal Seasoned Pro – Introducing the Accelerator 2.0 | S3SP5

In 2018, Michael and I designed and built the A.CRE Accelerator program. We sought to build the preeminent tool for learning and mastering real estate financial modeling. It was intended to provide a clear path to real estate financial modeling mastery, and ultimately give Accelerator Graduates a significant advantage in the industry.

Now as we approach the 3-year anniversary of the Accelerator’s initial launch, it’s inspiring to see how the Accelerator program has accomplished all of that and more!

Today, the Accelerator program is used by dozens of top universities and institutional real estate firms to teach the next generation of real estate professionals. Thousands of individuals have likewise leveraged this case-based program to master real estate financial modeling, model their own deals, land a job in CRE, and further their careers in real estate.

The program’s Certificate of Completion is viewed by employers and investors as a strong assurance of the Accelerator Graduate’s commitment to the industry and as evidence of their superior real estate financial analysis skills.

But with all things tech, consistent innovation and improvement is essential.

So, to ensure the Accelerator’s long-term prominence and to offer an improved experience for members, we’ve spent the past year building the Accelerator’s next-gen learning platform.

Today, we’re excited to announce the launch of the new Accelerator 2.0: Same Proven Curriculum, New Specialty Endorsements, Easier-to-Use Platform.

How to Model Like a Deal-Seasoned Pro

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Episode Transcript

Announcer (00:01):

Welcome to the Adventures In CRE Audio Series. Join Michael Belasco and Spencer Burton as they pull back the curtain on everything commercial real estate and introduce you to some of the top minds in the industry. If you want to take your skills to the next level and be part of a growing community of CRE professionals across the world, this is for you.

Sam Carlson (00:26):

Hello and welcome back to the Adventures In CRE Audio Series. We have a very special episode for you today. As you can see from the title of the podcast, How To Model Like A Deal Season Pro 2.0, there’s something new that we want to announce, and we’re really excited to do that. So to get us started, I’m going to turn it over to Spencer and he’s going to tell you about what we have to announce and what that means for you, if you want to learn, to model like a Deal Season Pro. So Spencer, go ahead and tell us what we’ve been working on.

Spencer Burton (00:55):

Yeah, sure. We’re excited to announce the launch of our Accelerator 2.0. Now, many of you already know we’ve been in beta on this updated platform for the past going on four months now. But for many of you, you don’t realize we’ve been working on this now going on over a year. And it’s a nice revamp of our signature product, the ACRE Accelerator. Call it same curriculum, same proven curriculum, but a handful of some new features that we think are going to make the Accelerator durable for the long term.

Sam Carlson (01:36):

Yeah, that’s exactly right. In fact, the tagline is “Accelerator 2.0, same proven curriculum, new specialty endorsements, an easier to use platform.” So those are the changes, and I think some of these changes not only just update the utility of the Accelerator, but they really augment what we’re going to be able to do for people. So I want to talk about, I guess, the first thing, maybe in order here, just the same proven curriculum. This is something we’ve talked about. Obviously, there are a lot of people who listen to this or watch this who have taken the Accelerator. But talk to me about this curriculum. What has changed if anything, from January 31st, 2019, is that the right start date?

Spencer Burton (02:21):

That’s right. Three years now.

Sam Carlson (02:22):

Yeah, three years. What’s changed from then until today?

Spencer Burton (02:26):

Interestingly enough, in the Core Curriculum, the Core Curriculum are the 16, soon to be 17 courses, there’s some slight changes to the curriculum in the Accelerator 2.0, but, effectively, this case based building blocks approach to mastering real estate financial modeling, the Core Curriculum stays the same. And that’s important by the way. So when Michael and I set out to build or create a curriculum that we thought would accelerate the process of proficiency in real estate financial modeling, we said, “How would we want to learn this?” And it was really about, number one, cases, real the life cases, the situations that Michael and I in our career, we’re both practitioners, we continue to be practitioners, the types of situations that we deal with on a day to day basis. And then introduced in an iterative fashion, in the same way that you learn to play an instrument, through practice, through iteration, through application, with a guide, watch me build videos, instructional material, a guide to help you as you go a long way. So the Core Curriculum itself largely is unchanged, Sam.

Sam Carlson (03:35):

Well, it’s interesting because as thousands of people have now gone through that Core Curriculum, what’s really cool, and part of the evolution of the program is, as those people went through the program, we got a lot of feedback, a lot of questions, a lot of things like that. And we said something in the tagline, “New specialty endorsements.” This is something that is, obviously, brand new to the program. I want to deep dive this. And I even want, if we have a list of what those specialty endorsements are, first, what are the endorsements? What is the specialty endorsement? And maybe I’ll turn that over to you, Michael. What is the endorsement and why do we have those? Then, Spencer, if you have a list and we could just briefly go over and touch on each of them, I think that’s probably the best course of action here. So to you, Michael, what’s a specialty endorsement and why do we have them?

Michael Belasco (04:28):

Yeah. So over the past couple years that we’ve been running this program, we’ve fielded a ton of great questions. Spencer and I have reviewed the program. We’ve decided to add a lot of supplemental materials that are exclusive within the program, and we were doing that as a way to continually add resources for people to add value to their own learning. And we realized that we had this smorgasbord of incredible learning material, but it wasn’t in a way that was really accessible. It was deep dives into certain topics, a lot of them stem from forum conversations, and what it culminated really when we looked at the whole body of work that we created over the past couple years was specialty niches in a lot of subject matter areas.

Michael Belasco (05:15):

And so we figured that we could take these courses, we can add some more. Wherever there were holes or gap in the learning, fill that out, and create endorsements that allow people to go deep onto a certain subject matter. So, for example, if you wanted to go deep into development, if you wanted to go deep into debt, if you want to go deep into partnership cash, we have a couple others and Spencer will go the list, you now have the opportunity to do that and you have the opportunity to focus and specialize on those certain niche areas. So you get the foundation and the Core, which we think is so critical. And we made very few, if any, changes, we made a couple tweaks to the Core, but now you have the opportunity, once you’ve finish, to hone in and focus and you have an organized and concise list of things to learn and go through.

Michael Belasco (06:02):

And it’s in the same matter that Spencer and I do the Core, which is videos side by side with us and you go through and you learn and you get that deep dive extra knowledge in the subject thereto which you are most interested in. I’m personally very excited about that. We’ve taken stuff that was always there. We’ve created a nice succinct path for the user, our members, to then go through and really focus in and they can find it all in a very organized fashion. So it’s really a great add.

Sam Carlson (06:30):

Yeah, I’m really excited about it and I think the reason that it makes a lot of sense within the Accelerator, within the program itself, is that it came about organically. These were questions and things that people wanted to know as they were going through the Core or maybe when they got through like, “What about this? What about that?” asking questions. And so it gave you guys the opportunity to go through and really highlight and go deep on some of those areas. So, Spencer, anything to add to Michael’s approach, which by the way, put perfectly, Michael. It was very good.

Spencer Burton (07:08):

A couple of things. The first is, the Core Curriculum leads to what we call our Certificate of Completion, and over the three-year history of the Accelerator, it’s gained some significant prominence. Now that several of the top real estate firms in the world use the program to train their incoming analysts and associates, 30 plus universities are using the program to train undergraduate and graduate-level real estate professionals, that Certificate of Completion means something. But what you get when you complete an Endorsement Curriculum is you get, call it an Endorsement Certificate, but, essentially, a validation from the ACRE Team that beyond this Certificate of Completion of the Core you’ve mastered or you’ve added an advanced proficiency in a given area.

Spencer Burton (08:04):

So Michael mentioned the three primary areas where you can get some advanced proficiency. At launch of our Accelerator 2.0, there are six Endorsement Curricula that you can take. The three that Michael mentioned, advanced modeling, real estate debt, advanced modeling partnership cash flows, which is partnership waterfalls, advanced modeling development, but there are also advanced modeling property and portfolio, and that includes mixed-use. So when you do portfolio modeling, essentially, mixed-use and portfolio modeling are fundamentally the same. And so there’s an endorsement that, number one, gets into the advanced modeling concepts around portfolio modeling, but also some advanced concepts not in the Core around property level modeling.

Spencer Burton (08:55):

In addition, we have two endorsements that are not, call them, advanced, but are additive to the Core, but not required in order to get your Certificate of Completion. The first is our mastering Microsoft Excel for real estate. And that, really, if you’re looking to either you’re coming into the Accelerator and you lack the Excel skills that you want, that endorsement will help you beef up those Excel skills. For those who are looking maybe to improve on the Excel skills that they already have, you’ll learn something from that endorsement.

Spencer Burton (09:30):

The other is the career advancement in real estate endorsement. So for those looking to break into the industry, pivot from one area of the industry to another, or, look, just simply leverage some of the techniques that we’ve developed over the years in talking to and working with real estate professionals, but also in our own personal careers, the career advancement in real estate endorsement’s a great way to get the skills that you need to get that next job in the industry.

Sam Carlson (09:58):

Okay. So, real quick, as a way just to consolidate everything into one list, do you have a list of the specialties that you can read off in order real quick just to cap this off?

Spencer Burton (10:10):

Yeah. Real estate debt, partnership waterfall modeling, real estate development, mastering Microsoft Excel, advanced modeling and property and portfolios, and career advancement in real estate.

Sam Carlson (10:23):

Okay, cool. So the Core is a proven product. These endorsements really add a lot of value to your career, and we intend on adding more of these endorsements, again, organically as these needs come into the community, the Accelerator Community. Now, I want to talk a little bit about this last part, the last part of the tagline, which is, “Easier to use platform.” This has been something specifically that we have really been driving at, taking feedback from users and then building from scratch a platform would serve the needs of the students and just the best way to learn possible, just cutting out the fat the best way possible. And we’ve created a platform that we think does that. So, especially, you’ve been very involved with the platform build. Michael as well. Talk to me about that platform. What’s better about it? And maybe, why did we even do it? Why not stick with the old model? What’s new about it?

Spencer Burton (11:25):

So when an Accelerator member reaches the end of the Core Curriculum, there is a survey and that survey asks them about their experience taking the Accelerator. And one of the gets to, what are ways in which we can improve? And so, one message that we heard over and over again is that the platform could be easier to use. When we built the Accelerator originally in 2018, it launched in 2019, we used a pre-packaged product that was sufficient for our needs, but as the Accelerator’s grown in prominence and as we’ve gotten that feedback from real graduates of the program, we said, “We need a product that, A, is specific to the audience, meaning fully custom, built from scratch, that is easier to use, that are faster to use,” but also opens up opportunities such as the endorsement program and some other interesting things in proficiency, in testing, in careers that we’re working on for 2022 and 2023.

Spencer Burton (12:32):

And so, based on that feedback, we assembled a team of developers in-house. We have a lead who manages the roadmap and we’re going on now 15 months and quite an investment to get to the point where we are today, which is essentially a proprietary platform that is tailor-made for an Accelerator member.

Sam Carlson (13:00):

Yes, it’s absolutely beautiful, and I think that people, when they go through it, whether you’re new, you haven’t been through the Accelerator yet, or you decide to get back into the Accelerator, you will notice an experience that is absolutely phenomenal, simplified, fast, efficient. Everything is very intuitive in the right places. In fact, if you’re listening to this, you might again head over to the website and check out the blog post that pertains to the 2.0 launch. We’ll have a walkthrough there so you can see the platform, so you can see what’s different about it, how it works, and why we’re so excited about it. I’ll wrap up. Again, in 2019, the Accelerator launched, and I think there was a little bit of apprehension when it launched because it was a brand new product. Didn’t necessarily know what to expect from it.

Sam Carlson (13:55):

And since that day and until this day, it has been not only a great success, because, sure, we want to have a program that is a great success, but thousands of people have taken it. Hundreds and we want even more, I don’t even know, maybe we’re up to 1,000, have graduated and gotten their Certificate of Completion, have gotten jobs, have gotten career advancements, and have reported back that this has helped them change their career in so many ways. So if you are an Accelerator member, we want to thank you for putting the trust in us and for doing that. And Michael, Spencer, any parting words? Again, we are excited. We have a lot of things coming on the 2.0, but just in wrapping up, anything you want to add to that?

Michael Belasco (14:40):

Yeah. I will say, again, this has been a year plus of work. We didn’t know how deep we would go, but we wanted to make this thing perfect. And so, as we kept going, it was never good enough until it was. We were hoping to launch in the beginning of this new year and we kept pushing and pushing to make this thing absolutely perfect. So you guys are going to see that and you’ll feel it. Even through use of asking us questions, you no longer have to go over to a forum. Right where you are in the PR program, you can click a button to ask Spencer and I questions. So it makes it way more intuitive, way easier to use, and I’m just over the moon with how it turned out. So I’m really excited for everybody else to get that experience and see what it’s like in the new Accelerator. Welcome to the 2.0 and excited to have we all the members in there.

Sam Carlson (15:32):

Love it. Spencer, anything to add to that?

Spencer Burton (15:35):

Yeah. The 2.0 is meant to last. We imagine years from now people continue to take this program, continue in Accelerate, and this platform sets us up for that durable contribution. So I’m excited about it. Listener, viewer, as you begin to take the Accelerator using the new platform, we’d love to hear your feedback to the extent that you’re taking it, there are things that you’d like to continue to improve. Again, the beauty of it being all our own is we have that capability now in house to make customizations to it to fit ideally the needs of the Accelerator members. So we’re always open to hearing feedback from you.

Sam Carlson (16:25):

Very good. Just in parting words from me, if you have not yet taken the Accelerator and you’re interested in learning how to become a seasoned real estate financial modeling pro, go ahead, head over to our sales page. Check it out, look at everything you need to there, and decide whether or not it’s for you. If you have bought the Accelerator, we are sending you an email with details on how to get access to the new platform. Whether you are a current user or maybe you had a membership in the past, we’ll send you information. So look in your inbox shortly. That will be coming out at the same time this video does. So thank you for watching this. Thank you for listening to this.

Announcer (17:04):

Thanks for tuning in to this episode of the Adventures In CRE Audio Series. For show notes and additional resources, head over to www.adventuresincre.com/audioseries. Would you like to learn real estate financial modeling in a matter of weeks and do it with zero guesswork? If so, the ACRE Accelerator is for you. The Accelerator is a step-by-step case-based program designed to teach you exactly what you need to know and in the order you need to know it so you can gain both the knowledge and experience to take your career to the next level. To see if the Accelerator is right for you, go to www.adventuresincre.com/accelerator.