17 Jun PeopleWise: Gray Hancock
A graduate of Washington & Lee University and Rice University, Gray Hancock, started his career focused on qualitative finance. After a few years in consulting, Gray transitioned to operations, serving as head of trade and investment for UKTI as well as director of operations for biotechnology company DNAtrix. Today he is the co-founder and COO of Decisio Health, providing software for healthcare professionals, enabling accelerated interventions and improved patient outcomes. Decisio Health offers DECISIOIntel, and DECISIOInsight®, the first web native software to be cleared by the FDA as a Class II medical device.
What are you doing now?
Currently, we are taking Decisio from a startup to a midsize company: growing revenue, getting to cash flow breakeven, and positioning for a potential exit within the next three years. It’s something that’s currently on the horizon, whereas five years ago, we were in survival mode.
What does a typical day look like for you?
It’s only a bit different in the COVID-19 world. A lot of our staff worked remotely already, so we had the infrastructure in place. I track the progress of our engineering team doing our product development. I also spend a lot of time working with our strategic partners, Deloitte and GE Healthcare. There’s also a decent amount of time spent on contract and licensing negotiations.
What was your key driving force in becoming an entrepreneur?
I’ve always liked building things, ever since a young age. In high school, my buddies and I were always looking for business ideas and ways to raise money. I’ve always had an interest in technology, specifically on the healthcare side. My undergrad was in biology, and my master’s in public health. I thought I wanted to go to medical school, but after taking a lot of business classes, I figured out how to blend the two subjects together. I especially like working in small companies without a ton of bureaucracy—you don’t have to work through 20 layers of policy to make a real difference and get something done.
Looking back, what advice would you give yourself at the start of your career?
I found that I enjoyed being on the operations side more than the investment side. Coming out of business school, especially back in my time, VC and banks were the holy grail. Spending some time there, I came to realize that I have way more fun building a company than I do being on the sidelines and writing checks.
What do you love most about your job?
I love the people I work with; my business partner Bryan Haardt and I have known each other for 20 years. It’s great being able to work with your best friend every day. If you don’t like the people that you’re working with, well, startups are hard enough on their own. We’re a medical device company. The things that we do and the products that we create are intended to save lives, so when we get reports back from customers about patients that were saved because of what we’ve created—that’s why you do it.
What do you think is your greatest weakness?
My biggest weakness is probably that I sometimes overanalyze—paralysis through analysis—it’s something that I need to work on. At a certain point, you have to make a decision and move forward. You can’t just sit there and collect information endlessly to try and make the “perfect decision,” you just gotta go. Being an executive at a startup, the whole name of the game is making decisions with imperfect information.