Could you provide a brief recap of your career since graduating from Owen?
When I graduated from Owen I was in HCA’s Executive Development Program, helping run Centennial Medical Center as one of their administrators. After leaving, I raised about a half of a million dollars to be a partner and investor in a small mom-and-pop company, however it fell apart after about four months and was not going to be the dream I had intended it to be. I then became a healthcare consultant for companies around Nashville.
In 2006, I got invited by Clayton McWhorter to do due diligence on a company that he wanted to buy. The diligence showed he shouldn’t buy it but there was a great market opportunity. We agreed to co-found and launch PharmMD – a medication management company. I was CEO and President there for twelve years. In 2009, we sold to private equity. I stayed on the board until 2019 and then joined a private equity backed company called Shearwater Health as their Chief Revenue Officer. We doubled the revenue and EBITDA in two years and sold it in 2019. In 2020, I had the opportunity of creating an investment company called Rockmont Investment with one of my best friends and Owen graduate Brian Fox. One of the companies we were doing due diligence on had a transition in leadership and as a part of our investment they invited me to join the team. I joined in August of 2020 as the CEO of EvidenceCare.
What is your company and where did the idea come from? What served as the biggest motivator or influence in starting your company?
EvidenceCare was founded four years ago by a doctor who was an emergency medicine physician frustrated by not knowing all of the appropriate protocols on how to treat patients. As a hobby he began consolidating those and his hobby later turned into a vision of putting clinical decision pathways and protocols right at the fingertips of doctors. At one point they had 6,000 doctors but the problem was the protocols were not embedded inside the EMR (electronic medical records) workflow. Today 90% of doctors get out the EMR, look up Google search or some other form of decision database. EvidenceCare’s core vision and differentiation is we’re an embedded software in the workflow of EMR’s. Doctors can select any pathway and we will automate it in the workflow. We have a few products today and we’re inserting those other pathways as fast as we can.
What is the most challenging thing about being an entrepreneur and how have you worked to overcome this challenge?
If you don’t like rollercoasters, stay out of the game. Most entrepreneurs by nature are optimistic and the reality is you have to overcome a lot of obstacles and a lot of failures in order to create a win. Be ready to go in and recognize it’s not just one roller coaster ride you’re signing up for. You’re strapping in and throwing away the keys. You’re on that roller coaster about as long as it will still run. A lot of people I make this comment to think “Oh, I can withstand a rollercoaster ride”, but what if you had to do it all day, every day, 7 days of the week? It’s a much different picture and that’s the perseverance that’s required by entrepreneurs to be successful.
What qualities are most important to possess as an entrepreneur?
Humility, vulnerability and a growth mindset. If entrepreneurs think they know it all they’re going to stub their toe and prevent the growth as fast as they can. There’s millions of entrepreneurs who have gone before all of us, including me. I learn every single day how to do something different or better. Going in with a growth mindset and humility to say — Is there a way I can do it better? Is there someone who could come in and transform this faster, better for the shareholders, better for the employees, better for all the stakeholders? That’s where that open minded, growth mindset comes in.
What are you most proud of about your business?
I’m most proud of the founders willing to pivot and adjust their business model. We’ve now created something that is truly scalable. It helps improve patient care, prevent physician burnout and also helps hospitals revenue increase. They couldn’t have done that without a pivot. Second, I am most proud of the team that we have assembled and put together. They’re phenomenal.
What advice do you have for students as they launch their business? Are there any tools you consistently use as an entrepreneur?
For students, I would not look at entrepreneurship as a career path. I think everyone needs to have experience in a company somewhere, where they’re learning the functions, pieces and parts of the way any and all businesses run. If you want to go from being a student directly to being an entrepreneur, you’re going to have to surround yourself with folks much more experienced and down the road than you because you may not have learned the basic blocking and tackling of running businesses. If you think about a career I really look back and value the time I had at HCA and big companies where I learned what mature reporting looked like and how companies ought to be run. It gave me a greater perspective of what I was getting into as an entrepreneur and what I needed to create and get to.
For entrepreneurs already in the game, hussle. Be a hustler. Don’t ever give up. Be a bulldog at all times. If you don’t have the answer, go find it and own the place you’re at. Be present and don’t dream about the big exits. Get the little things right and pay attention to the details and all the good stuff downstream will happen. You have to know the details of the business, the blocking and tackling and the rest will take care of itself.
Vanderbilt has resources. I leaned on a lot of professors and some of them were my angel investors in the early days. The Nashville Entrepreneurship Center is an absolute gem and a resource. Finding mentors in the community and being aggressive to ask for help. Build a network and lean on other people’s networks. It’s absolutely critical. The Entrepreneurship Organization, EO, has endorsed a lot of books. There’s a lot of great tools out there. Be a constant student and consume those.
What do you do to live a balanced life? Do you have any interesting or fun hobbies?
My hobby is mentoring entrepreneurs and investing in companies more than anything else. I also love to do anything active outdoors or athletically. I spend a lot of time with my kids and have had the blessing of coaching each of them in at least one sport. I still read a lot and I still take my wife out for a date every Saturday night. I work at not losing sight of my priorities.
Don’t ever view work life balance as an equation of sorts with time as the variable because you’ll always feel shame and feel a bit of a failure because being an entrepreneur is a lifestyle. It’s not just an occupation. I would tell everyone to always keep your priorities right at all times and then you can make the right decisions. If you worked an 80 hour work week you can turn it off and have dinner with the kids and then turn it back on after, so you don’t lose sight of your priorities. I think that was a hard lesson for me to learn over time.