Messenger: Paige Craig, CEO BetterWorks, Angel Investor, former Marine
I implore you to listen to the interview below. Paige is a gifted communicator and my summary does not do him justice. He offers a number of worthwhile tips and tricks that I was not able to capture in the textual summary, so the 14-minute audio file is well worth your time. Play it in the background while you otherwise remain productive (or listen to it while you update your FB page, your call).
What follows is a summary which paraphrases Paige’s responses. For his exact quotes, listen to the interview.
Value Prop Twitter Style: BetterWorks is the better way to manage employee perks
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6) Paige, why does the world need BetterWorks?
“We save small to medium sized business anywhere to 15% to 30% of what they buy already – snacks, meals, coffee for employees in the office. We help companies reward their employees with perks.
Perks are one of the most cost effective ways for a company to recruit and retain employees. It’s not salary, it’s the emotional connection of giving someone a gym membership, food in the office.”
5) When I interviewed people at my past startups, I rejected them if they asked me about our dental plan, as true entrepreneurs don’t care about such pedestrian benefits. However, our early employees loved the fact that we allowed them to bring their dogs to work. How extensible do you see BetterWorks’ business model with later stage companies, where dental plans do matter?
“We see two markets. When you are a bigger company, they are not as cost sensitive…and (they) want to provide a ton of services. We save you a ton of time. You don’t have to have three benefit specialists managing vendors. Every single deal is pre-negotiated.
When you have a hundred to five hundred employees, they save a ton of time, the employees can pick exactly what they want. Those companies are spending up to $300 per employee per month. As an HR Manager, you don’t have to build a top down perks program. You decide how much you want to invest in your employees and then you give your employees the control to build a custom perk package for themselves.
Smaller businesses gravitate to the cost savings.”
4) What lessons from launching the Lincoln Group in Baghdad in 2005 are transferable to today’s LA startup scene?
“The big thing I learned was go in with a big vision and then execute day-to-day, knowing you don’t have the answers to everything.
Every day, let’s learn from our customers, and I did that in Iraq. You have to have a really small staff salute between the service you are delivering and the people buying the service.
You have to have a massive vision that can convince bright people to join you and then every single day, every single week, you have to learn from the people who are giving you their hard earned dollars.”
3) I’ve heard some great stories about your weekend sales “boot camps.” Please describe your approach and fill us in on your results to date.
“We decided to hire people that were younger and are trainable. We hired people who did not have outside sales experience. And we hired folks who had previous leadership positions and proof points of being competitive. Most of the people…had positions in sports teams or fraternities.
We brought in 10 – 20 people in each class. In real-world training scenarios (over two weeks), on the phone selling, we cut 75% of them. In that way, the people who made it feel they really achieved something.
100% of the folks (who survived the boot camps) are still here. We quintupled our sales per sales person and reduced our acquisition costs by 80% during that (boot camp) period.”
2) Congratulations on Entrepreneur magazine recently naming BetterWorks a “Brilliant Company.” I am a huge fan of PR being done in-house during a startup’s early stages. Do you have any PR tips and tricks you can share with emerging entrepreneurs?
“In the early days, do it yourself. If you believe what you are doing, you need to make yourself accessible…talk about your business all the time.
Practice your message. In the early days, I talk to thousands of people and every single conversation, I would learn one or two things. Think of it as a snowball that keeps gets bigger and better as you go forward.
Even if you uncomfortable, force yourself do it. Put yourself into circles of people who will buy or who are a stakeholder. Make yourself accessible. Don’t put (in) the layer of an agency or a PR Specialist in the early days.”
1) In addition to running BetterWorks, you are also an Angel Investor. In fact, we are co-investors in The Resumator. What must a startup do to motivate you to write them a check?
“For me, it comes down to the right people – I usually invest in teams. So I am looking for a passionate team with a big vision that knows how to execute. I have this manta of ‘think big and execute small.’ I like big thinkers who, no matter how big their vision, can sit down and talk to me about hour-to-hour, day-to-day type stuff they do to move the ball forward.
Vision is the easiest one to understand. The execution piece is harder, it takes time. If you have the luxury of time, ideally you let that entrepreneur work with you over a period of months and demonstrate unquestionably that they can execute. Passion is a hard piece to. You can ask them about their past experiences…but once again, if you have time (and) can watch them demonstrate that passion, you are better off.
I encourage your readers join (BetterWorks), we’ll hook them up with a discount. Just go to www.betterworks.com.”