Global Insurance Accelerator Announces Nicole Cook as Next Managing Director

Experience initiating and managing strategic partnerships with large companies and leading B2B SaaS sales will aid future GIA cohorts.

DES MOINES, Iowa, Feb. 11, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The Global Insurance Accelerator (GIA) is pleased to announce Nicole Cook will join the GIA full time February 11, and take over as Managing Director on May 1 of this year following the conclusion of the 2019 cohort.

During the GIA’s 2019 cohort, Cook will work alongside current Managing Director, Brian Hemesath. Her background includes expertise in finance, strategy, sales, technology, and raising capital, though much of her enthusiasm for leading the GIA stems from her most recent role as COO of Speeko, provider of an automated verbal communication and training platform, where she helped lead the startup through a technology accelerator.

“This position gives me the opportunity to share with entrepreneurs the knowledge and experience which helped shape my career so far,” said Nicole Cook, incoming Managing Director of the GIA. “I’m not only familiar with fundraising and the key elements VCs look for in potential investments, but I’ve also played key roles in early stage technology companies, so I understand the difficulties the GIA’s cohort companies are trying to overcome. I’m looking forward to applying my broad business, entrepreneurial, and finance background to challenges facing the insurance industry today.” 

Cook began her career in investment banking at BMO Capital Markets before transitioning to startup life where she worked for and advised a number of fintech and technology startups over the last decade, including Dwolla and Speeko. She also has experience as a seed stage investor, serving as managing partner of Five Island Ventures Partnership. She holds a B.B.A. in Finance from the Henry B. Tippie College of Business at the University of Iowa and has completed M.B.A. coursework at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

“It takes a certain mindset to tune in to startups in general and technology startups in particular,” said Jeff Russell, president of Delta Dental and board chair for the GIA. “Nicole’s experience will help our program deliver even more benefits to participating cohort companies by bridging the gap that often exists between InsurTech startups and market incumbents.”

On May 1, 2019, Brian Hemesath will step down as Managing Director to assume a role as the GIA’s Entrepreneur-in-Residence (EIR). Cook’s hiring and Hemesath’s continuing role are part of a comprehensive transition and strategic planning process which promotes continuity for the GIA, the annual 100-day accelerator program, and the GIA’s alumni.

For information on becoming an investor, mentor, or program advisor for the GIA, or for more information about the GIA’s InsurTech Week program held annually in the Fall, please visit

About the Global Insurance Accelerator (GIA)
Launched in 2015, the Global Insurance Accelerator (GIA) fosters innovation in and for the insurance industry via a mentor-driven, 100-day program. GIA supports an annual cohort by providing each graduate company $40K of seed money in exchange for six percent equity. During the program, cohort members get insurance-specific mentoring via 1:1 meetings with industry executives, as well as basic business infrastructure assistance, coaching on garnering investments, and product-specific insights into strategies for increasing applicability to and feasibility for the insurance industry. The GIA extended network includes insurance company investors, startups and mentors from across the global business and insurance communities.  For more details please visit

Media Contact:
Jennifer Overhulse
St. Nick Media Services
(859) 803-6597

A photo accompanying this announcement is available at

Nicole Cook Headshot 2018 Cropped