From the June 2011 issue of Entrepreneur

100 Brilliant Companies

Bonus broker: Paige Craig of Betterworks.
Photo© Jeff Clark

We call it startup-to-startup: a new crop of businesses helping smaller, younger companies work faster and be cooler--for a better price. It's a promising space for entrepreneurial ventures now that business owners aren't afraid to buy their services online.

Take it from Paige Craig, angel investor in several S2S companies, and, as of November 2010, co-founder and CEO of his very own. With Betterworks, his Santa Monica, Calif.-based startup, the goal is to help businesses recruit--and keep--talent.

The solution involves perks. Specifically, Google perks at Costco prices.

"We all know it's not great healthcare that makes companies stand out--that kind of stuff is a given," Craig says. "It's the jelly beans every 50 feet."

Betterworks' online platform lets employers create perks programs in less time than it takes an intern to figure out the Flavia machine.

"Fill in a short registration, set up a budget, tell us how many employees you have and choose from a list of perks, all online," Craig says. There are co-pay and self-serve options, too, and a monthly fee of approximately $4 per employee--but no contracts to sign.

Vendors, a mix of chains and independents, love the access to local, repeat customers. Employers also win, since perks are offered at a pre-negotiated discount (ranging from 15 to 70 percent), not to mention the bonus of great analytics.

The thing to remember, Craig says, is that employees value perks more than cash, and small, frequent rewards--going to Equinox fitness on the company dime, a free meal at the trendy vegan place around the corner--will go a lot further than a holiday bonus.

"And if a team lunch produces just one good idea, it's paid for--and then some," Craig says.

In April, Betterworks already had cut deals with about 200 Los Angeles-based vendors to provide perks for more than 3,200 employees at startups and big-name clients like Hulu and Getty Images. By the end of the month the company should have close to 40 hires to begin taking advantage of an almost dizzying opportunity to scale.

"Assuming we don't break anything," Craig says, "we can open to any local market."

And, in case you're wondering: Yes, Betterworks does lead by example.

Can you say four-day trip to Las Vegas with a cameo appearance by Zappos' Tony Hsieh?



More Startup-To-Startup Brilliance

Gangplank Co-working, up a notch: This free workspace for startups and freelancers offers one-on-one mentorship, weekly presentations and workshops.

GroupPrice A Groupon for small businesses, this daily deal site negotiates limited-time offers of 30 to 60 percent off local business services, software, apps and supplies.

inDinero Hate accounting? This financial dashboard will grab data from your company's bank, credit card and financial accounts and figure your cash flow, spending and profits.

On Deck Capital For businesses that don't qualify for a traditional loan, this free--and fast--service helps find lending options in five minutes.

Podio Both a social intranet and online work platform for IT departments, it tracks activities, events, tasks, deadlines and contacts.

Poppin Invites customers (including Google and Pandora) to join them in "waging a war on drab, gray, dull and boring" with affordable, well-designed, colorful office supplies.

The Resumator Starting at $30 a month, this applicant tracking system promotes jobs within social media to help find that next star employee.

SlideRocket PowerPoint on steroids: Import and create presentations, buy content to integrate, collaborate with co-workers--all for just $24 a month.

TinderBox Say goodbye to the business proposal blues with this online proposal application. Write, format, manage, approve and track proposals on one interface.