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BetterWorks Brings Big Company Perks To Bay Area Startups — Coming Soon: The Gamification Of Working

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What’s better: an employer giving you $500 or an employer giving you an iPad? At first, you may think it’s better to get the cash. But often, that money is used on things such as paying bills — important, but not lasting. The iPad will last. Every time that person uses it, they’ll remember who gave it to them.

“Employees value the non-cash rewards three times over the cash value,” BetterWorks co-founder and CEO Paige Craig notes. But doing perks can be tricky for a small company to manage. It’s often easier simply to hand out cash. That’s where BetterWorks comes in.

The service, which has been in testing in the Los Angeles area for several months, in now launching in the San Francisco Bay Area to coincide with TechCrunch Disrupt. BetterWorks focuses on working with companies with anywhere from 2 to 1,500 employees. In other words, small businesses. And what better place to offer this than the Bay Area, startup haven.

BetterWorks gives small companies an easy way to reward and incentivize employees. They give these small businesses access to corporate rates on things like gyms and salons, which those businesses can then offer to their employees as perks. Gym memberships and the like are standard for large companies like Google, but startups don’t have the time or resources to deal with such things.

And such things can be great incentives and key for startups trying to hire. That’s why companies like Chegg, Dailybooth, Formspring, Get Satisfaction, Klout, Plancast, Twilio, and others have already signed up. They also work with larger companies like Hulu and ICM.

This system also benefits vendors because it brings them customers. And assuming the startups stay in the program, it will be a steady stream of new customers.

If you’ve heard of BetterWorks, it may have been because it was also co-founded by a co-creator of Farmville, Sizhao Yang. Yes, that Farmville. Why is he doing a employee perk startup? Because there will also be gaming elements to it. While BetterWorks hasn’t yet moved into the intangible world, eventually there will be ways for employers to encourage certain types of behavior (such as getting work done in a timely manner, responding to email, etc) with perks. The gamification of working.

But that’s down the road. First, BetterWorks is focused on their core mission of giving small businesses access to big business perks for employees. At first they’ll be in closed beta testing here in the Bay Area, and then they’ll more broadly open up. Then the next step is rolling out to 20 other key U.S. markets, Craig says.

The Santa Monica-based company raised an $8 million Series A earlier this year.