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Global Insurance Accelerator names newest cohort

The six startups converging on Des Moines next week for the Global Insurance Accelerator will do so with a guaranteed place to sleep.

For the first time, the accelerator will offer its participants subsidized housing for the duration of the 100-day program. It’s a new amenity for the insuretech-focused program that will give the startups a home just a block away from the GIA’s offices in Des Moines’ East Village.

The GIA announced its third cohort Tuesday. This year’s participating startups include:

  • Find Bob from Toronto, Ontario: a business transition and succession planning tool for insurance agents and financial advisers.
  • InsuranceMenu from Boston, Massachusetts: a data-based platform to handle benefits for small businesses and local insurance agents.
  • MotionsCloud from Munich, Germany: a mobile platform to streamline the insurance claim process.
  • RE-Sure from Detroit, Michigan: a app-based, on-demand insurance product utilizing the blockchain.
  • Sentrys from Belgrade, Serbia: a data-protection platform for consumers, insurance companies and vehicle manufacturers.
  • ViewSpection from Tucson, Arizona: a platform for agents, policyholders and underwriting, claims and loss control departments to share information.

Managing Director Brian Hemesath said the housing became an option due to additional funding. The GIA starts its third cohort with 10 total investors, each providing $100,000 a year.

The GIA has also hired Megan Brandt to handle communications and work with the program’s list of mentors. Two interns from Drake University will be on staff to aid this year’s startups.

The accelerator is taking in three startups from outside the U.S. this year, compared to two each the past two years. Even so, Hemesath said the GIA is not picking companies solely based on where they’re from.

“There’s no intention behind the geography. Good ideas are good ideas,” Hemesath said. In addition, the product each company develops, he said, needs to apply to the U.S. market, regardless of where they are headquartered.

Hemesath said five of the six startups this year enter the program with products already developed.

“Our ideal company is a post-product, early (or) no revenue” business, he said.

The cohort will finish its time with the GIA during a demo day at the 2017 Global Insurance Symposium in Des Moines in April.

Matthew Patane is the managing editor and co-founder of Clay & Milk. Send him an email at

1 Comment

  • John
    Posted January 14, 2017 at 3:16 pm

    Do the startups move to Des Moines for the program?

Comments are closed.

Global Insurance Accelerator names newest cohort | Clay & Milk
A central Iowa ag-tech accelerator has secured more backers and finally has a name. The Greater Des Moines Partnership first announced the accelerator last year, naming four initial investors. On Monday, the Partnership said the program will be called the "Iowa AgriTech Accelerator" and named three new investors. The new investors include Grinnell Mutual, Kent Corp. and Sukup Manufacturing, all Iowa companies. They join investors Deere & Co., Peoples Co., Farmers Mutual Hail Insurance Co. and DuPont Pioneer. Each investor has agreed to put up $100,000 for the first year of the accelerator. Startups entering the program will receive $40,000 in seed funding in exchange for 6 percent equity. Tej Dhawan, an angel investor and local startup mentor, is serving as interim director until the AgriTech Accelerator names a permanent leader. Dhawan held a similar role with the GIA before Brian Hemesath was named as managing director. As interim director, Dhawan said his main job includes hiring the accelerator's executive director, establishing a business structure and initial recruiting for the first cohort. The accelerator will place few filters, such as location and product, on the applicant pool, Dhawan said. "When you’re seeking innovation, innovation can come from every corner of the world so why restrict ourselves," he said. One area the the AgriTech Accelerator won't recruit from is biotech. For its first cohort, the AgriTech Accelerator will work out of the GIA's space in Des Moines' East Village, Dhawan said. A future, permanent home is still to be decided. The accelerator's program will host startups from mid-July through mid-October, ending with an event connected to the annual World Food Prize. The GIA, which the AgriTech Accelerator is based on, also ends with presentations at an industry event. The accelerator has also started lining up a mentor pool. The Iowa Corn Growers Association, Iowa Soybean Association and the Iowa Pork Producers Association have agreed to provide mentors, as has Iowa State University. While the AgriTech Accelerator is loosely based off of the GIA, it will differ in its business structure, Dhawan said. The GIA runs through a for-profit model for both operations and its investment fund. The AgriTech Accelerator will have a nonprofit model for its operations and a for-profit setup for its fund. Dhawan said the nonprofit model is being used so the accelerator can better work with other nonprofit partners, such as trade associations. "These are all organizations that are nonprofits and can be amazing stakeholders without ever having to be investors in the accelerator," he said. "It becomes easier to work with trade associations in their nonprofit role when we are also a nonprofit." When it's up and running, the AgriTech Accelerator would be one of a handful of ag-focused startup development programs in Iowa. Others include the Ag Startup Engine out of Iowa State University and the Rural Ventures Alliance from Iowa MicroLoan. Matthew Patane is the managing editor and co-founder of Clay & Milk. Send him an email at
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