(Pappajohn Sculpture Park, Des Moines. Image source: Des Moines Arts.)
The Global Insurance Accelerator (GIA; Des Moines, Iowa) has announced that Nicole Cook has joined the GIA full time as of Feb. 11 and will take on the role Managing Director on May 1 of this year following the conclusion of the 2019 cohort. During the GIA’s 2019 cohort period, Cook will work alongside current Managing Director, Brian Hemesath who in Sept. 2018 announced his transition to a new role as alumni advocate and entrepreneur-in-residence (EIR).
Cook brings expertise in finance, strategy, sales, technology, and raising capital and was most COO of Speeko (Iowa City/Chicago), a 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,” comments 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 and then entered the world of startups, working for and advising 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.
An Entrepreneurial Mindset
“It takes a certain mindset to tune in to startups in general and technology startups in particular,” comments Jeff Russell, president of Delta Dental and board chairman, 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.”