Meet Nicole Cook, GIA’s new Managing Director

The Global Insurance Accelerator (GIA) announced last week Nicole Cook as its new Managing Director.

Cook will take over full time after current Brian Hemesath, the current Managing Director, steps down from his role on May 1, after the conclusion of the 2019 cohort. Leading up to May 1, Cook will work along with Hemesath and Program Manager Megan Brandt.

“A lot of my energy right now is taking full advantage of getting to work with Brian to really understand how he’s run the program so far on a day-to-day basis,” Cook said. “One of the areas I’m excited about is my ability to work with and advise the cohort companies in the program. This week I’ve spent a lot of time with them one-on-one to understand what they’re goals and milestones are for the program and how I can contribute.”

GIA is currently in the middle of its fifth cohort of 10 startups, the most amount of companies the accelerator has had in a single cohort.

“How we think about the growth of the GIA is definitely something I want to continue to think about,” said Cook. “I’m not sure bringing in more and more companies every year is the solution to create the value that startups are getting out of being here. The first part of the program that just finished was this highly intensive mentor time. More mentors are good and we’ll focus on that but the right ones to really match the needs of the startups will be an important focus.”

GIA has a lot of areas where it can continue to expand and make progress, Cook told Clay & Milk.

“There’s a lot of strengths to build on. One of the areas that I think is an opportunity for us is to figure how we continue to support the companies through fundraising processes if that’s the path that they go down,” Cook said. “That has occurred, but it’s an additional area of both my experience as well as what’s continuing to evolve throughout the Midwest from a Venture Capital perspective. That’s one area where you might see some additional focus.”

Cook says a strong focus of hers will be continuing to support startups after they’ve completed the 100-day accelerator.

“I am really excited about our great group of cohort alumni,” Cook said. “After this current cohort, we’ll have five years of alumni companies and the opportunity to really create a community for them that they can continue to come back to.”

Prior to starting at GIA, Cook worked as the Chief Operating Officer of Speeko and the Vice President of Sales and Strategy at Dwolla. Cook also has experience as a seed stage investor, serving as a managing partner of Five Island Ventures Partnership.

“When I look at my ability and previous experience, it will allow me to really understand how to work with these founding teams through some of their early stages,” Cook said. “How do they think about product-market fit? How do they discover their customer base? Having lived inside of what’s happening inside of fintech at Dwolla, which is also happening in insurtech—it’s a new lens I bring, having that experience.”

Previous coverage

Global Insurance Accelerator announces ten teams for 2019 cohort -Jan. 9, 2019

Global Insurance Accelerator: Eight companies take the demo day stage -April 26, 2018