VC firm run by nurses invests only in nurse-run startups

A new Chicago-based venture capital firm seeks to harness nurses’ experience and creativity to create products and services that will transform healthcare.

Nurse Capital will invest only in nurse-founded, nurse-led startups to take advantage of a “groundswell of nursing coming in with an entrepreneurial spirit” and digital know-how, said co-founder Beth A. Brooks.

Related: New nurses have more options, but are more prone to burnout


Brooks, a Chicagoan and former president of health sciences at nursing school Resurrection University, later known as Oak Point University, founded Nurse Capital with Marla J. Weston, former CEO of the American Nurses Association from Washington, D.C.


The women, both of whom have doctorates in nursing science, say that while the number of healthcare startups keeps growing, nurses, particularly women, still struggle to get their ideas heard and their companies funded.

The undervaluation of nursing in healthcare and in the investment world is shortsighted, because “nurses are masterful at workarounds,” Brooks said. “If something needs fixing, they’re going to fix it.”


However, after nurses with great ideas find some money for a startup, get help from family and “bootstrap” their projects, Brooks said they hit a wall. “When nurses come to pitch in front of investors, they face a lot of myths and women struggle to get money from male investors.”

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Brooks said she and Weston both saw that in mentoring CEOs who are registered nurses. Despite Brooks mentoring leaders of startups at Chicago-based incubator Matter for more than six years, she said she’s yet to “meet a company run by nurses.”

Brooks’ and Weston’s VC journey started with two different nurse-led companies, Brooks said. She began an investing relationship with Madison, Wis.-based startup Roddy Medical, which makes SecureMove-TLC, a device for the hospital bedside launched by registered nurse Lindsey Roddy. Brooks said Weston first helped Phoenix-area concierge nursing startup Navi Nurses, founded by registered nurse and CEO Jasmine Bhatti.

Now, with its first, small fund and earlier startup funding, Nurse Capital aims to make two or three investments “in late seed round, possibly Series A fundings, but not as lead investor,” Brooks said. In addition to being founded by a registered nurse, she said the firm is looking at three-year investment windows with startups that have some existing revenue and “are a going concern.”

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Brooks expressed confidence she and Weston bring a large and varied healthcare network to the work of helping nurse-run companies get off the ground. She pointed to her work in nurse leadership in healthcare facilities, in academia, and in healthcare marketing and advertising, as well as Weston’s experience running the National Nursing Association and serving as a strategic adviser to startups, government agencies and nonprofits.

“We’re also breaking down stereotypes about nurses,” Brooks said.

Too often, nurses are seen as not having the skills, education or financial wherewithal for startup success, she said.

“If it is a physician who pitches a (healthcare) solution, they will get the money,” Brooks said, although investors should be talking to the nurses who make many purchasing decisions in hospitals and understand what kinds of innovation is needed at the bedside.

“Physicians are generally not in the hospital 24 hours a day,” she said. “Nurses are there and see what’s needed.”

This story first appeared in Crain’s Chicago Business.