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BrokerTech Ventures announces 12 startups for 2020 cohort

BrokerTech Ventures has announced the 12 insurtech startups that will participate in the accelerator’s first cohort, which will begin March 2 in Des Moines.

The startups, all with solutions designed specifically for the broker segment of the insurance industry, include:

, Oakland, CA
Broker Buddha, New York, NY
ChalkBites, Inc., Davenport, IA
CogniSure, Warrenville, IL
ConsumerOptix, Dayton, OH
Goldfinch Health, Austin, TX
Loss Run Pro, LLC, Missoula, MT
MakuSafe Corp., West Des Moines, IA
ProNavigator, Kitchener, Ontario, Canada
Talage, Inc., Reno, NV
TRUSTLAYER, INC., San Francisco, CA
Wunderite, Inc., Boston, MA

“As a startup founder for the better part of 20 years, having the ups and the downs of running your own company, there is nothing that helps even you out like having real customers providing valuable feedback,” said John Jackovin, executive director of the BrokerTech Ventures Accelerator. “Many programs take years to attract the caliber of companies we have here. Some never get there. With BrokerTech Ventures, we have a group of excited, potential customers hungry to start working with these startups and truly quality startups, founders, and ideas. It’s the perfect set up.”

Through the expertise of its nine owners and partners, BrokerTech Ventures offers the cohort earlier insights into how technology can work within and positively impact the insurance industry.

Collectively, BrokerTech Ventures’ owners and partners make up more than $1 billion in annual distribution, and during the program, the cohort teams will work side-by-side with a veteran mentoring network, receive seed funding for a portion of the company’s research and testing, and gain access to a distribution platform to deploy the viable solutions.

The accelerator will operate out of Gravitate Coworking in Downtown Des Moines. Following the five-week curriculum, BrokerTech Ventures will host an intentional Summer Road Show series, May-August, 2020.

BrokerTech Ventures announces 12 startups 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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