Founder of Nashville’s Jumpstart Foundry Talks State of Healthcare Startups

By Alex Lavidge

The pulse of the startup scene in Music City has a healthy beat when it comes to healthcare. According to theNashville Health Care Council, more than 250,000 professionals are employed locally by the industry representing over a $38.8 billion economic impact.

Vic Gatto, founder and CEO of Jumpstart Foundry. Photo courtesy of Jumpstart Foundry

Jumpstart Foundry was rebranded three years ago as a seed-stage investment fund for advanced healthcare and healthtech entrepreneurs,” says Vic Gatto, founder and CEO of Jumpstart Foundry. “There are more than 18 publicly-traded healthcare companies in Nashville and close to 4,000 healthcare-related companies.”

Gatto says forming relationships with many of them helps validate the product-market fit and path-to-market before JSF decides to invest in new healthcare-related companies.

Gatto is also still a partner at Solidus Company, a prominent early-stage venture capital firm which was featured recently on CB Insights as the most active investment arm (in the technology startup segment) for Tennessee. (According to Crunchbase, a few of their portfolio companies went through exits such as Populr, ONFocus Healthcare, Contigo Financial and RentStuff.com.)

“The accelerator model got boring,” he says. That sentiment last year was noticed across Tennessee and surrounding region and sparked conversation about how the accelerators could improve the value they offer both entrepreneurs and the investor community. “For us, we prefer to work with entrepreneurs who are having the healthcare industry guide their product development process from the onset,” he says.

While acknowledging there are some interesting conversations and infographics on the web regarding what the future of health technology may look like, Gatto says listening to what healthcare providers are pointing out as their largest pain points is where entrepreneurs should start before thinking about coming up with new products and services.

“Groups of industry partners — hospitals, physician groups, device biotech, technology providers — they’re all discussing similar themes right now,” he says. “One of those themes is just that everyone is expected to provide more value for less revenue.”

Gatto points to GreenLight Medical, one of 38 current portfolio companies at JSF, as an example of how online technology can be used to streamline a tedious process such as researching medical technology during the procurement process.

Health:Further, a health innovation conference which spun out of JSF, brings the health and wellness community together “to discuss these industry themes in greater detail,” Gatto says.

David Shifrin, community editor at Health:Further, says they’re also equally going to be focused on what he called preventive healthcare for the next event scheduled for August 22–25 in Nashville. “The attendance at the conference grew last year by over 30%. We’re expecting 2017 to be another strong year where we’re discussing not just the future of healthcare but also the future of preventive health and wellness, or public health, too.”

When he was young, Gatto wanted to be a doctor. “I loved the science behind all of it,” he says. “But being around the innovative spirit is what gets me really excited. Just as our parents’ generation went to the moon, our generation has an opportunity to innovate the healthcare industry.”

On that point, Gatto adds that he’s optimistic about Nashville being a significant innovation hub where that happens.