For a brand-new startup, being given the opportunity to attend a Global Insurance Accelerator (GIA) symposium and become a part of GIA is a dream come true. The time leading up to it, especially the final few days before walking through the doors, is usually full of excitement, nerves, questioning, but most of all, preparation. Preparation for one hundred days that will change not only your life, but your team members’ lives as well.
So what is GIA? You can find them at globalinsuranceaccelerator.com, but we’re so excited that we want to tell you all about them! They are an amazing group of super-experienced mentors and ready-to-help investors, who have an incredible knack for recognizing hard workers dedicated to learning and taking their startup to not only the “next level,” but as far as you can possibly go.
The Global Insurance Accelerator is a mentor-driven business accelerator designed to foster innovation in the insurance industry by supporting insurtech startups targeting the global insurance industry. …this is not your typical accelerator. Our investors are insurance carriers, our mentors are primarily insurance executives. Participating with our program is a highly strategic decision to find product-market fit…
Located in DesMoines, Iowa, one wouldn’t necessarily think it the place for insurance—but the city has created the right environment, and has become a mecca of insurance. GIA has helped so many innovative startups worldwide jet their companies into the future, and the list is impressive: calling each company a “cohort,” since 2015, they have partnered 26 companies globally, with 10 more in 2019 about to take off! (GIA Portfolio)
To find so many mentors willing to give of their time to new, innovative startups (not to mention the companies so generously seeding) in one place is mind-boggling. Held yearly, GIA carefully reviews all applications, selecting those innovators who are driven to succeed, hungry for success, and willing to give 100 days of intensity and hard work to be given the opportunity to make their company’s dreams come true.
How We Got Here
Somewhere around mid-2018, Keagan was introduced to Brian at GIA, by Torey at Rocket Referrals. After having a general discussion over the phone with Brian about GIA and what they do, and later meeting him at a conference in Chicago, though never taking it the next step, it stayed in the back of Keagan’s mind, where it would continually rear its little head and whisper, “GIA, GIA.”
One night while Keagan was scanning through his emails, there was one sitting there with a word in the subject line that caught his eye. GIA. He thought, “Well, it won’t hurt to open it.” Inside the email, he read, “Hey! The last day for applying to the Accelerator is today so don’t forget to get the application to us now!” Seeing as how Keagan hasn’t lost any brain cells along with his hair, he thought he’d be nuts not to just apply…the program supplies some funds, and that could only help—Startups always need funds!
Since hyper-focusing on something like that never helps, he went along with his daily business, concentrating on making marketing plans, getting his name out there, making contacts…until shortly thereafter another email came, this time inviting him to interview.
(Keagan) I didn’t tell anyone about the interview, mostly because I thought it was best that only one of us get our hopes up and start getting nervous. The last thing a company needs is all of the team members constantly thinking about it, asking day-in and day-out whether word has come, has anyone heard anything, any emails received. I didn’t even tell my co-founder, Kelly! Not long after the interview, I was on a call with someone and saw call waiting…I knew that number. I just couldn’t answer it. Maybe I wasn’t ready?
About 20 minutes later, I listened to his voicemail message, and couldn’t ignore it. That would be nuts—the door was not only being opened, it was practically being taken off its hinges! So I called him…and was told we’d been accepted and needed to know my answer within 24 hours. After telling him I needed to have a meeting with my family (after all, it’s 100 days long, and I have a wife and two kids) and all of my team before making a decision because it affected ALL of us, I said I’d call him well before those 24 hours.
I sent an email to the team and invited my wife out on a date; I figured she couldn’t say no if I did that! Emails began to come in fast and furious from the team, asking if I had lost my mind and what in the world did I think they’d say, and how could they be against it?!
My wife simply said “Planes, trains, and automobiles—it’s only a couple states away in Iowa. Look, it won’t be easy, there’s no doubt about it. It will be really hard, but we’ll figure it out. It’s what we need to make our dreams happen.”
And the rest is history.
Expectations from GIA
All of us, each and every member of our team, know how important it is to have complete focus on these next 100 days, and all the hopes of what we’ll take away from it. The help with our business model on the marketplace aspect of the business, and learning how to build out from what we’ve already begun to build in our marketing partnerships.
“The assistance and advice the mentors offer is priceless!”
The mentors come from a wide variety of insurance companies and insurance-type businesses, so we’re hoping to learn from both sides for our model—both the marketplace and marketing arm that we have. We’re very insurance agent-specific, focused on keeping the agent alive and growing, bringing them to the forefront in today’s world. It will be really interesting to see how both sides think, if they think like us, whether pro-corporate or pro-agent.
We honestly don’t know what’s going to happen. We think that this Accelerator will be very different from the Thunder Launchpad that we were a part of. One reason is because it’s extremely focused on insurance-related companies; while we know that’s a positive for us, it’s really very different from what we’re used to. But we’re so excited to be a part of it and see where it takes us.
The night before GIA, intense conversations were held between Keagan and Kelly as they took off for Iowa. For Kelly, his biggest expectation is the plethora of contacts they’ll be making in the industry, and understanding that these are the people they’ll be working with for the next two years, three years, four years down the road.
(Kelly) So many contacts all in one place for an extended period of time. What an amazing opportunity! It will be exciting, and exhausting, but it is absolutely worth every bit of this time to nourish every new contact, understanding what they can do for—and with—us. We have to take advantage of everything that’s here for the next 100 days, and not squander a single moment. We expect something great out of this!
(Keagan) Absolutely true! We can’t do anything else, except hunker down and take it all in, work so very hard. I’m demanding of myself that only good is going to come out of this!
What the Future Holds: Where is BriteBee Going Now?
Our plans for the future are huge in how we want to work for our partners. We could become a social media management platform, aggregating different leads and opportunities that our partners and clients have, to help them grow organically. There are a lot of social media management platforms out there, but we are agent-specific, and want to do it all for them, taking on further aspects.
We plan on learning everything we can from the GIA mentors about building our platforms so that we can continue to add value for our agents. We plan to understand, with their help, how to utilize everything we have already, and how to build out on it even more.
Stick with us—it’s going to be super interesting! We’re going to find that thing that distinguishes us from everyone else. We already have some of it, in our way of communicating. But you can be sure of this: we’ll be working hard to get that idea across; to get that aspect of us across to everyone!
We’ll be beating our own drums about what we do! Hear it, feel it, come join in!