NASHVILLE SINCE 2000
Marcus Whitney and Briovation are looking to change the health care world, and he’s doing so across the board, from community innovation to investment in new businesses. He’s also co-owner of Nashville’s new pro soccer team, Nashville SC.
“Dumb luck,” Marcus says, when asked what brought him to Nashville. “I was starting a family, I was living in Atlanta, and just decided that I didn’t want to live there, so got out and moved to Nashville.”
His first job was at the Rio Bravo Cantina, where he’d been working in Atlanta. “There was a Rio Bravo here and they were really busy, so I walked in and got on the system and was working the very first day I drove into town,” he recalls. Simultaneously, he taught himself to code. “I spent the first seven years getting good at that, and then it got to a point where I was more interested in leading the company than leading the technology,” he says. “So for the last 10, 11 years, that’s what I’ve been doing is trying to figure out how to be a good entrepreneur.”
Not only is he now leading companies, Marcus is helping numerous others shape theirs through his Jumpstart companies, subsets of Briovation. Jumpstart Foundry identifies innovators in the healthcare space, and Jumpstart Capital is a venture capital wing, investing in companies making change. “My partner Vic and I have been co-creating this company for nine years,” he says. “We’re both innovators, we’re both entrepreneurs; his background is finance, my background is technology, but we both believe in the power of innovation. We spent five years, night and weekends, a side hustle doing it. Four years ago, we started doing it full time, and it’s been a really incredible process to co-create something and evolve it. Every three months it’s almost like a different company, that’s how much we put into it.” Their portfolio now boasts 65 different companies.
Any entrepreneurial venture can come with immense challenges, something Marcus hasn’t been immune from. “If you have a good day it feels like things are working, everyone has good days, and then I think the other time when it feels like things are working are when you stop and reflect on what you’ve accomplished over a long period of time. When I look back at the last 15 plus years of my life as a body of work, I think, okay this is working. It doesn’t feel that way right now, when I’m looking at the obstacles and objectives I have in front of me right this second. I don’t feel like what I’m working on is working most of the time.”
Ask an outside observer, however, and Marcus’ innovation and leadership are connecting and then some. Rep. Jim Cooper has called him one of Nashville’s “strongest leaders,” and he was invited to the White House in 2016 for their South by South Lawn festival.
“It’s fun,” he says of his various work. “We’ve been able to build a great culture and a great team. It’s sort of my dream job,” he continues.