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BrokerTech Ventures opens applications for 2020 cohort

BrokerTech Ventures, a Des Moines-based investor group and accelerator program focused on delivering innovation to the insurance agent-broker industry, has opened the application window for the 2020 BrokerTech Ventures Accelerator cohort.

The first cohort of the five-week accelerator program will begin in March 2020. A total of $500,000 in seed funding is available for the selected broker-centric, early-stage startups, with each startup receiving up to $50,000.

The deadline for submissions is November 29, 2019, and selected startups will be notified of acceptance in early February 2020.

“We’re looking for any and all new ideas applicable to the agent and broker community,” said Dan Keough, Holmes Murphy chairman and CEO and BrokerTech Ventures co-founder. “We intend to cast a wide net to capture the broadest view of innovations which support needs specific to brokers, ultimately bringing these selected insights and products to our customers and business partners.”

Backed by nine privately held brokerage firms throughout the U.S.m the BrokerTech Ventures Accelerator will be an innovation hub for startups to test broker-centric ideas and products, while bringing new and innovative ideas and solutions to the industry.

Seeking an Executive Director

In addition to the opening applications for startups, the accelerator is still in the process of hiring the organization’s first Executive Director.

BrokerTech Ventures will accept applications for this position through Friday, November 1, 2019.

Previous coverage

Accelerator program for insurance agent-brokers launches in Des Moines -Sept. 19, 2019

BrokerTech Ventures opens applications for 2020 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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