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Global Insurance Accelerator: Eight companies take the demo day stage

Global Insurance Accelerator

The culmination of the Global Insurance Accelerator and its 100-day program came Wednesday afternoon as the eight companies in the 2018 cohort pitched in front of a ballroom of over 650 people at the Global Insurance Symposium.

With its fourth cohort, the Global Insurance Accelerator has now graduated 26 companies and Jeff Russell, the board chairman and CEO of Delta Dental, announced four new investor companies Wednesday:

  • Allstate
  • SFM
  • Voya
  • W.R. Berkley

In total, the Global Insurance Accelerator has 14 investor companies and over 150 mentors for its program.

Russell said the accelerator is “laser focused” on finding and developing companies that bring innovation to the insurance marketplace.

“The goal is to build an ecosystem of startups, interested insurance companies, venture capital and entrepreneurs focused on insurance innovation,” Russell said.

Russell explained that building an “innovation lab” or starting a new “venture fund” won’t be sufficient enough. He says innovation must be part of the company DNA.

“Are we moving the needle to what our customers want and expect?” Russell asked. “We live in an iPhone and Amazon world, yet as an industry, we seem to move at a pace of the Sears Catalog and the touch-tone phone. There are no shortages of good ideas and good companies out there to help us, the real question is are insurance companies ready to adopt them?”

The eight companies that pitched Wednesday were:

Russell said to continue helping their portfolio companies in their quest to raise capital, they will host the “InsurTech” week again this October to create opportunities for investment.

The Global Insurance Accelerator is a 100-day program that invests $40,000 into InsurTech startups in exchange for equity in the company. The program concludes each year at the Global Insurance Symposium.

Previous coverage

Global Insurance Accelerator: Eight companies in the 2018 cohort – Jan. 11, 2018

InsurTech week: Introducing startups to insurance executives – Oct. 25, 2017

A fourth cohort of the Global Insurance Accelerator is approaching – Aug. 3, 2017

Global Insurance Accelerator: Eight companies take the demo day stage | 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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