Jan 13, 2022 - Health

Jumpstart launches fund for Black founders

hands holding briefcases upwards

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Nashville-based Jumpstart Health Investors launched Jumpstart Nova, the first U.S. venture fund to exclusively back Black-founded and led health care companies.

  • Major players including Eli Lilly, HCA Healthcare and the American Hospital Association injected $55 million.

Why it matters: A tiny fraction of existing health tech companies have Black leaders at the helm — a result of decades of systemic racism and the institutional barriers it has created.

  • Black leaders rate access to capital and investors as more significant barriers to building their companies relative to their white and Asian counterparts, according to a recent Rock Health survey.
  • Although 41% of Black founder respondents self-funded or bootstrapped their company, fewer than a quarter of white and Asian founder respondents did so, the survey finds.
  • "Our decision is to be laser-focused on supporting great Black health care founders," Jumpstart Nova founding partner Marcus Whitney, tells Axios. "That's our North Star."

The intrigue: A common question Whitney got while seeking partners for the venture was whether there were enough deals to justify the fund.

  • "The answer is yes, and we do not have enough capital to invest in all of them," says Whitney. "It’s going to be hard. We’re going to have to make some really tough decisions."

Details: Jumpstart Nova’s strategic investors are a veritable who’s who of heavy hitters across health care delivery and finance, from those mentioned above to Cardinal Health, Atrium Health and the Henry Ford Health System.

  • The venture’s partners include Bank of America, Pinnacle Financial Partners, FirstBank, Ingram Industries, Truxton Trust and Vanderbilt University.

What's next: Whitney anticipates he and Jumpstart Nova partner Kathryne Cooper will invest in roughly 20 companies as part of its first fund.

  • "We believe the chronic underinvestment in Black health care founders has had multiple negative downstream effects for society," Whitney says. "If our fund succeeds in its primary premise, we believe those downstream measures will improve."

Editor's note: This story was updated to include comments from Jumpstart's founding partner.

Go deeper