Local early-stage investment firm Jumpstart Health Investors is tackling a new challenge – a funding shortage for non-white entrepreneurs.
The company, co-founded by Marcus Whitney, has raised $ 55 million for its Jumpstart Nova fund, a venture capital fund specifically aimed at healthcare companies founded and run by black entrepreneurs.
Initially, the company intended to raise $ 30 million for Jumpstart Nova, but the group exceeded its target and raised an additional $ 25 million through reputable partners such as HCA Healthcare, Meharry Medical College, Pinnacle Financial Partners, Vanderbilt University and others, according to Whitney.
“Capital is a crucial piece of the puzzle when it comes to making a startup successful, especially when we’re talking about tech startups,” said Holly Rachel, president of the local advocacy and networking group Blacks in Technology. . Typically, black founders only receive about 1% of VC investments each year, and that number is just not representative of the potential that exists within the black startup community. The existence of funds. like Jumpstart Nova offers the possibility to black founders to develop their startups.
Whitney said the lack of funding for black-run healthcare companies is not due to a lack of black founders.
“The healthcare venture capital industry has for decades missed out on investing in brilliant black American innovators, and it has been a loss for all of us,” he said in a statement. “The strong start of Jumpstart Nova and its incredible group of limited partners validates the need to capitalize and support the vital solutions of this untapped talent base. “
Jumpstart Nova doesn’t have a specific investment line but typically invests in startups raising Series A funds, according to Whitney. He added that startups don’t have to be local in Middle Tennessee – Jumpstart Nova funds black-founded businesses across the United States.
Since its inception, Jumpstart Nova has invested in four healthcare companies, including DrugViu, Cellevolve, Teamwork and Alerje.
“The companies in our original portfolio are tackling issues of importance to the healthcare industry,” said Whitney. “We knew these founders were ready for prime time when many even doubted their existence. Together, we will make a significant mark on the healthcare sector. “
In addition to the $ 55 million raised for Jumpstart Nova, JHI recently selected 17 healthcare startups to participate in the Jumpstart Foundry accelerator program. Each of the selected companies receives $ 150,000 in investment from JHI. Two of the 17 selected companies are based in Nashville, including Bordeaux Laboratories, a diabetic healthcare company and the Comma Collective, a feminine hygiene initiative.
“As COVID-19 continues to present many challenges in our daily lives, it has been incredible to witness the creation and adoption of new innovations in the healthcare industry,” said the CEO of Jumpstart Foundry, Eller Kelliher, in a statement. “I am encouraged by the incredible number of innovative startups that are changing the face of health as we know it. And I’m especially proud of these 17 new investments – as new companies in the JSF portfolio, they represent real solutions to the industry issues and trends that have been highlighted and, in many ways, driven by the pandemic. “