A- A+

Accelerate DSM

This energizing, annual day-long event gives startups and entrepreneurs the chance to make worthwhile connections and gain key takeaways to help them accelerate their business. 

Accelerate DSM Event Information 

Thursday, April 5, 2018
8 a.m. – 6 p.m.  |  Science Center of Iowa
401 W. Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway, Downtown Des Moines, Iowa

All-day tickets are $39 (lunch included) and all-day student tickets are $20 (lunch included). 


Register now for Accelerate DSM 2018, emceed by Kaylee Williams, President of Volunteer Local.


  • 8 a.m.  |  Doors Open
  • 8:30 a.m.  |  Opening Remarks
  • 8:55 a.m.  |  Keynote – Brian Hemesath, Managing Director, Global Insurance Accelerator: "FOL (Failing Out Loud)! Lessons From Some of the Stupid Things I've Done"
  • 9:40 a.m.  |  Morning Break
  • 10 a.m.  |  Roundtable Sessions
  • 10:45 a.m.  |  Digital Marketing Strategies Panel: "What’s Working and What's Not" 
    • Gregory Bailey, CEO and Founder, Denim®
    • Mike Draper, Founder and Owner, RAYGUN
    • Matt Ostanik, CEO and Founder, FunnelWise
    • Courtney Yuskis, Audience Development Director, Meredith Agrimedia
    • Moderator: Kaylee Williams, President, VolunteerLocal
  • 11:45 a.m.  |  Lunch
  • 1:15 p.m.  |  Afternoon Remarks
  • 1:20 p.m.  |  Keynote – Tej Dhawan, Chief Data Officer, Principal: "Unless You Dream Big, You're Building a Small Business"
  • 2:20 p.m.  |  Afternoon Break
  • 2:40 p.m.  |  Roundtable Sessions
  • 3:25 p.m.  |  Keynote – Andrew Kirpalani, Product Leader and Co-Founder, WorkHound: "Ramen. Roaches. Riches? — A Rather Blunt Telling of the WorkHound Story Thus Far"
  • 5 p.m.  |  TechBrew
  • 6 p.m.  |  Event Concludes

Register now for Accelerate DSM 2018!

2018 Speaker Information:


Keynote: Brian Hemesath is the Managing Director of the Global Insurance Accelerator, but continues to advise his company, VolunteerLocal, as it grows to help events all over the world effectively manage volunteers. 

Hemesath received a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering from Iowa State University and has built a career around technology startups as a founder and co-founder of several businesses. He successfully exited two of his companies in 2010 (Diligent) and 2012 (Catchwind).


Keynote: Tej Dhawan is the Chief Data Officer for Principal. In his role, he works with technologies and teams working toward a customer-focused digital experience, developing and executing the strategic vision for enterprise data and applications.

Working alongside the chief information officer and chief digital officer, Dhawan helps shape and drive the evolving digital experience. Supported by a mix of data, analytics, user experience and augmented intelligence, Dhawan drives the evolving digital experience with a sustained focus on the evolving needs of the global customer.


Keynote: Andrew Kirpalani is the co-founder of Workhound, a platform designed to give drivers a voice and companies a solution. With over 10 years of experience in development and product management in employee engagement, aviation and the automotive aftermarket, Kirpalani leads all things product for the Workhound team.

With experience running Startup Weekend Des Moines and participation in multiple accelerators and incubators in Omaha, Des Moines and Chattanooga, Kirpalani is at home with the startup community.

  Gregory Bailey has been studying, learning and building for more than 20 years at some of America’s biggest and best-known insurance companies. In 2015, he built Denim®, a company reimagining the way insurance and financial services companies market, engage and sell with intelligent, data-driven technology. Recently, he was named one of the 20 Most Creative People in Insurance by The National Underwriter and one of 15 People to Watch in Insurance Technology by Insurance Networking News.

Mike Draper is the Owner of RAYGUN, a clothing company he founded in 2005. He was born just six blocks from the store’s Historic East Village location; so, geographically, he has not come very far in life. Despite RAYGUN being a $4 million company, Draper is regularly surprised that he still isn’t rich.

  Matt Ostanik, serial entrepreneur and author, helps companies uncover the story their data is telling them to grow revenue with a smarter, faster approach. He is the Founder and CEO of FunnelWise, a powerful analytics engine and best-in-class approach to help sales and marketing professionals discover the right actions to maximize results and also created a methodology for forecasting and optimizing sales and marketing funnels with his book, "Revenue Funnel Science: How to Optimize Your Marketing and Sales Funnel." 
  Courtney Yuskis is an Audience Development Director for Meredith Agrimedia. She works with developers, editorial teams, sales reps, ad operations teams and clients to deliver a balance between advertising success and a positive user experience. From her farm roots in Illinois, to serving as a U.S. Peace Corps volunteer in Samoa and to leading digital strategy at Meredith Agrimedia, she has acquired a unique skill set that she aims to leverage.


  Kaylee Williams is the president of VolunteerLocal, a volunteer scheduling and registration platform. Williams joined the founding team at VolunteerLocal and led the strategic growth of the business into national and international markets. Customers include Lululemon, the United States Marine Corps, Ironman, Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival and the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras in Australia, the largest LGBTQ event in the world. Williams is passionate about community service and diversity in tech. She is a triathlete, bass guitar player and volunteer coach for Girls on the Run.

Roundtable Sessions:

  • Creating a Great Pitch Deck
  • Selling to the Big Box Retailers
  • Getting to Close
  • Mentorship / How to Find and Manage Mentors
  • Selling to a Vertical Market
  • Get Legally Ready to Raise an Angel Round
  • Growing a Services Business
  • Selling via Social Media
  • Talk to a VC
  • Business Relationship - Contracts or Not?
  • Preparing for a Series A Round
  • Co-Founder Relationship - Getting Along and Legal Needs
  • Preparing for IEDA Innovation Technology Funding Programs
  • Trademarks and Patents
  • Tradeshow and Conference Selling
  • Digital Sales Tools
  • Outsourcing Your Code in the US and Overseas
  • Business and Financial Models
  • Designing a Physical Product
  • How to Be a Good Mentor to Others
  • Customer Retention / Metrics You Should Track 
  • Talk to an Angel Investor
  • Raising a Seed Round
  • Gaining Federal SBIR Grant Funding for Your Innovation


Thank you to our sponsors:

Accelerate DSM BrownWinick Logo         

2017 Event Recap

The second annual Accelerate DSM presented by Iowa Economic Development Authority was held on May 17. Speakers including Torey Maerz, Founder of Rocket Referrals; Cayla Weisberg, Partner at InvestHer Ventures; Mollie Bodensteiner, Vice President of Marketing at FunnelWise; Casey Niemann, Founder of AgriSync and Ben Milne, Founder and CEO of Dwolla; shared advice on how to accelerate business growth. 

Check out all of the videos and presentations from the 2017 Accelerate DSM event:


1 Million Cups - Jay Byers, CEO, Greater Des Moines Partnership; Tiffany Tauscheck, Chief Strategy Officer, Greater Des Moines Partnership
Presentation | Video

Bootstrapping and Accelerating Your Company - Torey Maerz, Founder, Rocket Referrals
Presentation | Video

Raising Capital in the Midwest - Cayla Weisberg, Partner, InvestHER Ventures
Presentation | Video

Accelerating Sales Through Sales Funnel Management - Mollie Bodensteiner, Vice President of Marketing, FunnelWise

Accelerating Sales Through Channel Management - Casey Niemann, Founder, AgriSync
Presentation | Video

The Right Number of Investors - Ben Milne, Founder and CEO, Dwolla

Call to Action - Artificial Intelligence and Deep Learning - Mike Colwell, Executive Director, Entrepreneurial Initiatives, Greater Des Moines Partnership
Presentation | Video

Tony Maerz Headshot 

Torey Maerz

Torey is a creator, inventor and builder of technology, having spent over a decade as a leader in innovation for Principal before founding Rocket Referrals. Torey's passion is developing software that is intuitive, simple to use and very effective.

Cayla Weisberg Headshot 

Cayla Weisberg

Cayla Weisberg is partner at InvestHer Ventures, a Chicago-based VC fund that invests in female entrepreneurs with early stage software companies. She is focused on investing in technology-enabled business services, data-driven products and disruptive solutions for large markets. With a track record for driving revenue for both Fortune 500 and startup companies, Cayla brings a strong sales focus to InvestHer's growing portfolio of scaling businesses.

Mollie Bodensteiner Headshot 

Mollie Bodensteiner

Mollie is the Vice President of Marketing at FunnelWise, a full-funnel visibility platform for sales and marketing that allows them to take revenue-driving actions with intelligent recommendations. She has over eight years' experience in sales and marketing technology. Prior to joining FunnelWise, she served as a Project Manager and Business Consultant at Marketo, where she helped clients optimize their sales and marketing processes and leverage related technologies. She is trained and practiced in DMAIC Six Sigma and Rapid Process Improvement.

Casey Niemann Headshot 

Casey Niemann

Casey Niemann is the founder of AgriSync, the first customer service platform built specifically for agriculture. He spent 14 years at Microsoft. He grew up on a farm in Kansas and received an agriculture degree from Kansas State and an MBA from the University of Iowa. Prior to Microsoft, he worked for Syngenta. He currently lives in Des Moines, Iowa.

Ben Milne Headshot 

Ben Milne

Ben Milne is the founder and CEO of Dwolla, a payments startup building the ideal API to move money. Under Ben, the Des Moines-based company has raised over $40 million from investors like Union Square Ventures, Foundry Group and Union Square Ventures. Dwolla has been recognized by Fast Company as one of the world's "50 Most Innovative Companies." The Dwolla software platform is used to power billions of dollars in commerce annually by fast growing technology companies all over the country.

Tiffany Tauscheck Headshot 

Tiffany Tauscheck

Tiffany Tauscheck, CDME, is the Chief Strategy Officer at the Greater Des Moines Partnership, the regional economic and community development organization. Tauscheck works alongside the talented Partnership team and volunteer leadership to tell the region's story: loud, bold, broad. She has a passion for the city and volunteerism. Currently she serves on six boards, including co-chairing the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives (ACCE) Marketing and Communications Division Advisory Board.

Jay Byers Headshot 

Jay Byers

Jay Byers is the CEO of the Greater Des Moines Partnership, the regional economic and community development organization. Byers currently serves on the Executive Committee of the Iowa Chamber Alliance, on the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives (ACCE) Executive Board, Board of Directors and Community Growth Education Foundation, the General Council of the World Chambers Federation and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Committee of 100. Byers also serves on the boards of Simpson College, Greater Des Moines Convention and Visitors Bureau, Greater Des Moines Committee, ChildServe, The Homestead and Drake University's International Advisory Council.

Mike Colwell Headshot 

Mike Colwell

As Executive Director of Entrepreneurial Initiatives of The Partnership, Mike Colwell leads Square One DSM and Plains Angels, a group of Iowa-based Midwest angel investors. Mike spends his days coaching, mentoring, consulting and asking tough questions to help entrepreneurs reach their full potential.