It’s not uncommon to hear, “It’s not what you know. It’s who you know.” The saying may seem like a cliché trope, but for Jesse Burgess it couldn’t be more true.

While living in South Carolina, Burgess was a franchisee for ADT, installing home security systems during a booming market in the early 2000s. As America’s economy started its downslide in 2006, Burgess quickly found himself unemployed. Figuring a move back to a big city would help him secure an opportunity for work, he reached out to his mother in Atlanta for advice on employment contacts.

Burgess’s mom mentioned an owner of a payroll company in Suwanee, Ga. as a man she believed could connect him with other business owners in the area. This contact proved to run much deeper than a simple business connection; What Burgess learned that day was that his mother was adopted as a child and this business contact was his biological grandfather whom he had never met.

Shortly thereafter, Burgess and his grandfather, John McDowell, met and immediately connected. After spending the day together, a new family partnership was born, and Burgess started working for his grandfather. Within 24 hours, Burgess’s life and the course of his career would change dramatically.

Now on board with Payroll Center, Inc., Burgess began selling payroll services the old-fashioned way, going door to door to small businesses in the Atlanta area. Thanks to his entrepreneurial spirit, Burgess believed there was a more efficient, economical way to service payroll.

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He began developing and building a software system specifically designed to innovate payroll servicing. With no engineering background, Burgess worked tirelessly in his time off teaching himself coding in order to create a workable glitch-free software system. People in his office began referring to the software as “online payroll,” eventually shortened to OnPay.

In the initial stages, when a client called Payroll Center to transfer out of the traditional service in favor of another business, OnPay was offered free of charge as an alternative solution. As a result, OnPay gathered a significant number of new clients.

Thanks to a positive review of the OnPay software system by PC Magazine in 2011, OnPay received additional exposure and customers began calling to sign up for their payroll services. In response to the growing client base, OnPay created its own website to host the system. As OnPay branched off from the traditional payroll model, it was primed to become the innovative software company that exists today.

Today, OnPay provides payroll software to over 10,000 clients.  Using an SaaS model, clients start by simply signing up for a subscription on the OnPay website. After choosing a specific subscription plan, clients begin using the software themselves to pay their employees.

“you don’t have to be a payroll expert, or even close to one, to use our software really easily and effectively.”

The user-friendly nature of the software is vital in making OnPay an effective, attractive payroll option for clients, according to president and COO Mark McKee.

“When people sign up online and start using our software, they never even talk to us,” he said. “So you don’t have to be a payroll expert, or even close to one, to use our software really easily and effectively.”

OnPay’s online accessible knowledge center provides resources for clients who still have questions about the software and prides itself on maintaining client satisfaction.

OnPay client Annie Eaton, CEO of Futurus, an XR technology company in Atlanta, lauds the effectiveness of the system.

“I feel like we have a lot more control now,” she said. “Every time I add a client bonus, or a cell phone stipend I don’t have to go through a person. I think the simplicity of it is fantastic. It has saved me a lot of time by equipping me with the tools to do what I need to do.”

According to Eaton, the interface and dashboard are streamlined and easy to follow. OnPay separates itself from the competition by being more than just an ordinary payroll service by providing solutions for small businesses regarding health benefits, workers comp and 401k plans and handling tax payments and filings.

However, Eaton believes that OnPay’s clearcut fee structure and ongoing customer discovery also sets them apart in the industry. OnPay honored and followed through on Eaton’s request for a new feature for tracking and integrating client paid time off.

“They have been really great in listening to our feedback and actually applying it to their services,” she said.

OnPay continues to provide full-service payroll and basic human resources tasks while in a constant state of ongoing discovery with a willingness to grow with client needs. So maybe it is what you know after all.