Global Insurance Accelerator seeks new managing director

Brian Hemesath, managing director at the Global Insurance Accelerator

Four years after its launch, the Global Insurance Accelerator is kicking off a search for the program’s second managing director after Brian Hemesath announced plans to step down in 2019.

Hemesath has committed to stay with the GIA through the 2019 cohort as a new managing director is trained, and will remain part time as an entrepreneur-in-residence to continue managing relationships with startups who have graduated from previous GIA cohorts. The new managing director would work with Program Manager Megan Brandt to continue attracting and developing small insuretech startups through the GIA, which offers $40,000 seed investment and a 100-day on-site program in Des Moines.

The step back will allow Hemesath to spend more time working with former Des Moines resident Kaylee Williams, president of the volunteer management software startup VolunteerLocal. Hemesath, who plans to remain in Des Moines, is a shareholder, coder and longtime adviser for VolunteerLocal.

“I am extremely satisfied with where the GIA has arrived now, four years later,” Hemesath said. “I’ve put a lot of energy into this and I certainly have my stamp on it. However, I think this is an important time for the organization to look at other opportunities.”

Although the new managing director’s start date will be Jan. 2, 2019, Hemesath will continue working with that individual through the fifth accelerator cohort until June. The new director will ideally have previous startup experience as a founder, employee or closely involved mentor who can help new startups coming through the GIA navigate their path, he said.

“[GIA board chair] Jeff Russell calls it ‘entrepreneurial chops,’ ” Hemesath said. “That’s a really hard thing to learn without having done it.”

In a statement, Russell, who is also president of Delta Dental of Iowa, praised Hemesath for leading the GIA’s growth since conception.

“In the last four years, Brian Hemesath has taken the GIA from a concept and positioned us as a global leader, influencer and developer of viable and innovative InsurTech companies,” Russell said. “We are not necessarily looking for another Brian to step into the shoes of managing director, but motivated, dynamic individuals with startup technology experience would obviously be at the top of the GIA’s short list.”

“We anticipate the search to be close to home. It’s going to be someone most likely familiar with our program that understands what our goals and our mission are, and probably a little bit of insurance experience,” Hemesath said. “We are very sensitive to the fact that we may have an applicant who needs to remain anonymous to some degree until they get down to a finalist.”

Since the GIA launched, Hemesath and Brandt have also developed the annual InsurTech Week in downtown Des Moines. This year, the event takes place Oct. 22-26 and will feature 16 international startups at the public presentation Oct. 24.

“The shoot-for-the-moon goal for me was always to be the place where every single startup has stepped through our doors. And that is what our investors are looking for,” Hemesath said. “The idea that everyone passes through Des Moines at some point on their insuretech journey, it’d be a huge vision to accomplish, to build out the right programs and events, all the things that attract the different talent here, whether they come for a short term or stay for six months.”

Details of the job description and application are available here.