The Jet Pilot Entrepreneur Behind Benchmark Software (and the Zoo’s PandaCam)

One of the difficulties in writing about Tyson McDowell is knowing where to begin.

McDowell is the 27-year-old CEO and co-founder of Benchmark Revenue Management, a San Diego company that has developed financial management software designed to help hospitals handle billing and collection issues more efficiently. He has been an entrepreneur since he was 14, and helped invent the PandaCam at the San Diego Zoo when he was 18. Oh, and McDowell also is a pilot who flies an ex-Soviet fighter jet in his spare time.

At Benchmark, McDowell has created business management software that helps hospital administrators prioritize their most pressing billing issues. The company’s technology also helps hospitals monitor and analyze their revenue cycle and business workflow. McDowell explains that hospitals lose a lot of money from low collection rates, but with Benchmark’s software, they can “reverse-engineer” the billing process, enabling managers to increase their collection rates and bring more efficiency to business operations.

“Hospitals really don’t know what they don’t know,” McDowell says. “We save them money.”

McDowell calls himself “a passionate entrepreneur,” and that’s how he sounds, too. “We want to be the service provider to all healthcare administration,” he says. The young entrepreneur was just 19 when he launched Benchmark, which now has a dozen employees and counts seven hospitals as customers, including St. Joseph’s Hospital in Atlanta, GA. McDowell spends a lot of time traveling and training clients to use the software, as well as recruiting new customers.

After eight years, though, McDowell has been asking himself a recurring question: “Where should the company go from here?”

To help find some answers to that question, McDowell recently put himself and Benchmark onstage, by volunteering to serve as a business case study for a regular monthly meeting of the MIT Enterprise Forum in San Diego. After making … Next Page »

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