Meet the investor: Nick Whitehead
January 12, 2021
What investing areas do you focus on?
I am lucky enough to work across a myriad of industries at B Capital, though most of my time is spent exploring opportunities across the healthcare ecosystem. It is difficult to ignore the healthcare problems of today’s world — rapidly increasing administrative costs, misaligned stakeholder incentives, the lack of transparency around pricing, poor education around benefits — the industry is ripe for disruption. And while these problems are obvious on the surface, the solutions are much more nuanced and complex. I am passionate about investing in teams who demonstrate a deep understanding of the issues that plague the sector and have strong empathy for those who are most negatively impacted by its existing inefficiencies.
If you weren’t in this career, what would you be doing?
If I weren’t working in venture capital, I would likely be a teacher and coach at a high school. I don’t think anyone is truly self-made and have always been a big believer in the power of mentorship and “paying it forward.” The opportunity to play that role for young adults in an academic and athletic setting is something I hope I still get the chance to do one day. I was lucky enough to have had access to such terrific mentors through my own teachers and coaches growing up, and I am forever grateful for the lessons I learned when life was a bit simpler.
What attracted you to venture investing?
After spending the first few years of my career in investment banking, I got my first direct experience with venture capital raising money for a healthcare startup. While I loved being an operator and thrived on the energy of having real ownership of my work, I found myself wanting exposure to a broader range of products, markets, and business models than one would see in a single startup. I wanted to see lots of startups! Being a Venture Capitalist, especially at the growth stage, embodies the perfect marriage of entrepreneurship and finance — the two worlds that represent my passion. It took me the better part of four years and an MBA to finally break into venture capital, and I have never felt as fulfilled both professionally and personally as I do today.
What’s something that you always look for in a pitch?
While there are so many essential things to look for during a pitch, I tend to focus on two things. The first is the company’s vision and whether or not the strategy supports defensibility in the long run. Differentiation is important, but I need to believe in its durability. The second is how passionate the team is about what they are building. The best pitches I’ve been a part of have left me feeling genuinely fired up about solving the problem the company was built to tackle. I firmly believe that passion breeds confidence, and confidence is contagious — I want to leave a pitch thinking there is nothing that will stop this team from accomplishing what it has set out to do and that I want to be a part of it.
What do you look for in a founder or executive team?
I always look for is a founder’s ability to identify, evaluate, and attract quality talent to the company, and build and sustain a positive culture to retain this talent. I was recently reminded of a quote from Rich Lesser, CEO of BCG, who once said, “You hire the best people you can possibly find. Then it’s up to you to create an environment where great people decide to stay and invest their time.” I believe this is true regardless of company stage, size, or industry. Market need, TAM, the product offering, differentiation, etc., are all important, but at the end of the day, a company’s success comes down to having great people executing a shared vision — and that starts and ends with the founder.
What’s something many people may not know about you?
About 18 months ago, I decided I was spending too much time on social media every day and that it was time for a break. Instead of scrolling through Instagram, I decided to challenge myself to learn guitar — something I have always wanted to do but never made an effort. Since then, there have been maybe 20 days that I haven’t played. It has become such a staple of my daily life that I even have a guitar I travel with. I love to play, and I get a lot of personal enjoyment from learning the instrument, but more than anything, it has served as such a refreshing reminder of the power of practice and has truly restored my self-confidence when facing any new or unfamiliar task at work or elsewhere.
Connect with Nick on LinkedIn today!