Beach blanket entrepreneurship: Synergy Billing

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Jayson Meyer RockStarPhoto-croppedDaytona Beach typically conjures up images of spring breakers in swimwear and NASCAR races. Yet if Jayson Meyer has his way, this Florida coastal city will also become renowned for being an entrepreneurial hub.

Meyer is the 33-year-old CEO of Synergy Billing LLC, which provides revenue cycle management services to community health centers. Launched in 2006, the company ended 2015 with more than $8 million in annual revenue and nearly 100 employees. Growth has been particularly strong in the past three years, and Meyer aims to keep up the pace: By 2020 his goal is to have 500 employees and $25 million in annual revenue.

Show them the money

A precocious entrepreneur, Meyer started his first business at age 14 when he opened a booth at a local flea market to repair and build customized computers. After attracting many doctors as clients, he developed software to improve their revenue collection. Although this wasn’t the killer app Meyer hoped for, it led him to a nichier market — federally qualified health centers (FQHCs) and the launch of Synergy Billing.

A special designation of health care facilities that receive federal grants, FQHCs provide underserved geographic areas or populations with comprehensive out-patient services and a sliding fee scale. “There are about 1,500 of these centers around the country, and their needs are very different from a regular doctor’s office,” Meyer says. “In addition, every dollar is critical because they do so much with so little.”

Helping FQHCs increase their revenue isn’t merely a matter of better software, but also understanding the human side of claims and payment, Meyer explains. “Our secret sauce revolves around both technology and processes. We’ve essentially reverse-engineered the requirements of each insurance company to make sure the data we produce is not only accurate, but enables FQHCs to get paid the first time.”

The outcome: In contrast to the average FQHC that collects less than 75 percent of its possible reimbursement, Synergy clients average a 95 percent collection rate.

New corporate campus

In the last three years Meyer has been developing quality assurance programs, formal policies and senior management — internal infrastructure that has helped his company achieve impressive performance and land on the Inc. 5000 list for the first time in 2015. Synergy Billing now has a 5 percent share of the FQHC market, a number Meyer wants to double to 10 percent by 2017… and then double again to 20 percent by 2020.

Hitting these metrics, however, is now linked with physical infrastructure. “We’re out of space,” Meyer says, referring to the company’s 9,000-square-foot office space — its third home since 2006.

Meyer has a contract with the City of Holly Hill, Florida, to develop a 25-acre parcel at an abandoned middle-school site not far from his company’s current location. “The idea is to create something like Googleplex,” he explains. To be christened The Fountainhead at Holly Hill, Synergy Billing’s new headquarters will feature 112,000 square feet of office space, 88 units of workforce housing, childcare and fitness centers, food amenities and a community health center.

Holly Hill, a struggling community with low education and high unemployment rates, might seem an unusual choice for an office park. “Yet we want to help redevelop this area,” Meyer says. “We believe The Fountainhead will be transformative — not only by raising property values and tax revenues, but also by attracting talented employees to the area.” By creating a corporate home with hundreds of higher-paying jobs, Meyer hopes additional housing and businesses will follow Synergy Billing into Holly Hill.

Once city commissioners give a final thumbs-up, Synergy Billing will begin construction and renovate existing structures for the first phase of office space. Meyer hopes to be filing a change-of-address for his company by early 2017. “Right now, our struggle is physical space, and we can only hire 40 people this year,” he says. “With the new campus in place, we’ll be able to grow more rapidly.”

Synergy Billing Academy

The new headquarters would also enable Meyer to bring Synergy’s training facility on-site — important to both the company’s expansion and the revitalization of Holly Hill.

Meyer initially launched the Synergy Billing Academy in 2013 as a training program for new employees. “We were having a hard time finding skilled labor and had to think outside the box,” he explains. “In our industry there isn’t a national recognized certification or degree for the work we do, which makes hiring difficult. So we focus on finding individuals with a good culture fit and then train them on revenue cycle management.”

This internal training program has evolved from a four-week course into a three-month curriculum — which Synergy Billing is now rolling out to the community. Launched in partnership with CareerSource Flagler Volusia, the program is free to qualified Volusia County residents who are unemployed or underemployed and will prepare them for a career in medical billing and coding. Some students may be selected to serve on a Synergy Billing team for real-world experience and ultimately offered jobs.

“One of the challenges faced by our region is that most new jobs are minimum wage positions in hospitality or retail,” says Meyer, a staunch advocate of diversifying the economy. “With a true home for the Synergy Billing Academy at The Fountainhead, we will be able to educate hundreds of people about the health care revenue cycle in the years ahead — skills they can use whether they work at Synergy or any healthcare organization.”

Culture of engagement

As employee head count swells at Synergy Billing, maintaining its holistic culture has become more important, Meyer says.

To that end, the company has introduced a variety of initiatives, ranging from lunch-and-learn programs to an employee council that meets with Meyer quarterly to discuss ideas for improvement. Synergy Billing has also established a program to identify emerging leaders and teach existing leaders how to be more effective. “It’s not enough to attract talented employees,” Meyer says. “You have to keep them growing as the company grows.”

Organizational clarity is also a priority, he stresses. “We hire people based on our mission, vision and values, and we’re constantly communicating those things. The end result is like a turbocharger in an engine: Everyone is rolling in the same direction toward a common goal. We’re able to get the goals faster because we have more engagement.”

And that engagement extends beyond office walls. Employees are encouraged to work at a local food pantry on company time, and a community action committee supports involvement in a wide range of volunteer activities, from heart walks to holiday food collections. Meyer is also a leader in a movement to develop an entrepreneurial ecosystem in Volusia County and has presented at the 1 Million Cups entrepreneurs forum and is a founding member of Innovate Daytona.

Among recent accolades, Synergy Billing was named a 2015 Florida Companies to Watch honoree. In March 2016, Meyer was named to the Daytona Beach News-Journal’s “40 Under 40” list of top business leaders and also was recognized as “Young Professional of the Year.”

Yet Meyer says that he’s most proud of his employees’ accomplishments. “We’ve had many staff members that started out with no prior experience, learned the business and are now supervisors. To me, that’s what it’s all about — helping others maximize their personal and professional potential.”

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Second-Stage Rockstars

Because second-stage entrepreneurs are so focused on their businesses, their contributions often go unnoticed by the media, policymakers, economic developers and community stakeholders. With that in mind, celebrating growth entrepreneurs and communicating their value is part of the foundation’s entrepreneurship mission, which it carries out in a variety of ways.

Among these is Second-Stage Rockstars, a series of online articles that examines the ongoing impact of second-stage companies. These stories chronicle not only second-stagers’ economic growth, but also how they may be transforming their industry, creating empowering workplaces or excelling as corporate citizens. Below are some recent Rockstars; others can be found in our archives.