Whitney unmasks Jumpstart Nova VC focused on Black-led HC companies


MARCUS WHITNEY, the Black 46-year-old founder and managing partner of Jumpstart Nova, today revealed the venture capital firm has surpassed its recruitment goals for Fund I, hitting $55MM for investment solely in U.S.-based and -focused companies that must be Black-founded and -led.

The Nashville firm said in a press release today that its investors include : Eli Lilly and CompanyHCA HealthcareCardinal HealthAtrium HealthHenry Ford Health SystemLHC GroupMeharry Medical College and American Hospital Association.

In addition, JS Nova partners include Bank of AmericaPinnacle Financial PartnersFirstBankIngram IndustriesTruxton Trust and Vanderbilt University.

[Updated: JS Nova’s formal SEC filing amendment on Fund I came Jan. 14, 2021, right here.]

JSNova also announced that the firm, an affiliate of Nashville-based Jumpstart Health Investors, has invested in four young companies:

• Drugviu – CEO: Kwaku Owusu MBA. New York. A Jumpstart Foundry alum that offers virtual platform where patients with autoimmune disease can consolidate their health history, participate in clinical research, and access personalized suggestions to better manage their health.
• Cellevolve – CEO: Derrell Porter MD MBA. San Francisco. A development and commercialization biotech that aims to transform cell therapy innovations into treatments.
• Teamwork – CCO: Erika Byers PHD. Brooklyn. A provider of affordable, tech-forward, appropriately staffed, community-based Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) services for children with autism.
• Alerje – CEO: Javier Evelyn. Detroit. A food allergy management technology startup that aims to reduce stress among caregivers working to avert potentially deadly anaphylaxis incidents.

JS Nova is built upon an institutional foundation. The firm’s press release today emphasized that during the past seven years, Jumpstart Health Investors has launched seven funds with an aggregate 150 or more portfolio companies. The release emphasized, “With the ability to leverage JHI’s proprietary assets, Jumpstart Nova has all the innovation of a new fund, with the added stability and risk mitigation of a well-established investment platform, including their operating system, investment data, and proprietary pipeline of deal flow.” Many companies founded via the Jumpstart platform originate outside Tennessee.

Whitney told Venture Nashville that the Black founders JS Nova seeks in its target sectors are “everywhere,” adding “We have a very strong pipeline.”

JS Nova target sectors include health IT, digital health, tech-enabled services, diagnostic devices, biotech, medical device manufacturing and consumer health and wellness.

JS Nova Partner Kathryne Cooper MD MBA, who joined the firm in Summer 2021, leads pipeline and portfolio management. Cooper’s LinkedIn is here.

Asked about the firm’s advisors, Whitney said JS Nova relies on attorneys with Waller Lansden.

He confirmed the team will rely at times on other outside advisors to support diligence, and its PR is handled by LA-area-based Natalie Byrne.

Companies qualifying for consideration by JS Nova for Seed or Series A investment will have at least one Black founder in a C-level position and holding a board seat, Whitney confirmed.

Check sizes will generally range from $250K-$3MM and JS Nova will often lead rounds, in which cases it will require a board seat. Its investments will mostly be minority investments.

Asked by VNC about the pace of transactions, going forward, Whitney projected roughly six new deals in a given 12-month period.

Whitney said in today’s release: “Our initial portfolio companies are tackling important issues for the healthcare industry like equitable access to clinical trials, bringing novel cell and gene therapies to market, helping families with autistic children get the therapeutic support they need, and seeking to mitigate the risk of life threatening food allergy attacks. We knew these founders were ready for primetime when many doubted they even existed. Together, we are going to make a significant mark on the healthcare industry.”

JS Nova also cites data, saying: “There are nearly 785,000 companies in the US healthcare sector today, and only 35,000 businesses in the Health Care and Social Assistance sector are Black or African American-owned. That amounts to less than 5%. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, two issues captured America’s attention: Healthcare and Racial Equity… Jumpstart Nova is working to increase equity in the healthcare venture space by:

• Maintaining majority Black-owned general partners
• Growing the number of Black VC limited partners and VC professionals
• Generating great returns, this fund will bring new innovators to the marketplace and ensure that talented Black healthcare founders are properly supported
• Investing in Black founders and leaders at the forefront of healthcare innovation, creating a more equitable future for all”

In the context of impetus for the new fund, Whitney said in today’s release, “The healthcare venture capital industry has missed out for decades on investing in America’s brilliant Black innovators, and this has been a loss for us all. Jumpstart Nova’s strong start and incredible group of limited partners validate the need to capitalize and support the vital solutions from this untapped talent base.”

Meharry Medical College President and CEO James E.K. Hildreth MD was quoted in today’s release, saying, “We’re excited about the potential of Jumpstart Nova and to serve as one of its strategic health care partners. Particularly, in the world of health care, the small percentage of minority-founded and led businesses–5 percent–is almost reflective of the percentage of Black physicians practicing in America. Correcting this inequity requires bold approaches and ventures, and Jumpstart Nova’s support of Black founded and led companies in the health care sector is just that kind of innovative thinking.”

In 2020, as VNC previously reported, Whitney published commentary in which he “Called Up” the Nashville healthcare industry and its parallel Venture-financing sector to use the prominent roles they have earned to act on “the right side of history,” allying with others to address “the systemic racism that has not yet been dealt with, resulting in an outsized imbalance in power, that is broadly disadvantageous for Black people in America and particularly oppressive to Black people in Nashville. [The industry] must stop protecting its fragility, and start doing real work in diversifying leadership to reflect the employees and communities it serves…”

Today’s JS Nova press release here. Earlier coverage of Marcus Whitney here.

Resource articles on the broader topic of funding Black entrepreneurs: 1 – 2 – 3 – 4 – 5 – 6 – 7 – 8 – 9 – 10 – 11 – 12 – 13

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