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A fourth cohort for the Global Insurance Accelerator is approaching

Global Insurance Accelerator

The Managing Director of the Global Insurance Accelerator says he’s exploring growth opportunities including additional cohorts and expanding to more locations.

“We are through three years of the program and when this all started the original seven investors agreed to a three year commitment” Brian Hemesath said. “So the fact that everybody is back for year four and we’ve almost doubled our investor count is a really good sign.”

The Global Insurance Accelerator graduated its third cohort at the end of April and begins accepting applications for the fourth cohort in September. The 100 day program starts in January with a $40,000 investment in exchange for six percent equity.

Hemesath said the Global Insurance Accelerator now has grown its number of investors from seven to 13.

“We’ve built something that the carriers are getting a lot of value from,” Hemesath says. “All signs indicate we are doing something the carriers value. So what’s next? We’re evaluating all sorts of growth opportunities, anything from additional cohorts, locations, maybe even some global opportunities.”

He said with InsurTech week from October 23-27, ten companies from around the world will come to Des Moines for a week to network and expose them to Des Moines without cash or equity.

“We are at a really important spot to capatilize on what could be a really big growth over the next three to seven years,” Hemesath said.

The fourth cohort of the Global Insurance Accelerator will begin class in January in Des Moines.

A fourth cohort for the Global Insurance Accelerator is approaching | 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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