10 U.S. Startups Offering Sweet Work Perks
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By Aimee Hosler | Jan 3, 2013
Google. Facebook. Zynga. These former startups share not only name brand recognition but also a reputation for amazing employee perks. They know how to wine, dine, and reward workers, setting the bar high for employers who compete for the same talent. Some new faces, however, are heating up the rivalry for fringe benefits. We picked 10 startups offering impressive and unusual perks, way beyond casual Fridays and once-a-month donut runs. Of course, company perks can change over time, but this is a gourmet menu of current offerings. Other firms across the country -- maybe some in your area -- have their own ways of thanking hard workers.
10 U.S. startups offering sweet perks
- Asana: $10,000 stipend for computer gear. This productivity application creator says that its mission is "to empower humanity to do great things," and that begins with incentivizing its workers. Asana was co-founded by Dustin Moskovitz, one of Facebook's founders. It features talent from big names such as Google and Microsoft -- so when it comes to employee perks, it has a reputation to uphold. The company offers a $10,000 stipend for workers to buy the computer gear they need -- a benefit in line with one the company's core values: "Investing in ourselves and each other."
- Dropbox: Gaming tournaments, laser tag outings, and Whiskey Fridays. Dropbox strives to make sure its customers can access their computer files from anywhere in the world. It also offers its employees an array of opportunities to break away from the daily grind and relax. If the free meals and snacks aren't enough, check out the in-house music studio, Whiskey Fridays, gaming tournaments, and, as Business Insider mentions, laser tag.
- Fab: Weekly drawings for $500. Fab connects people with modish design products that they never knew they needed. Forbes reports that as of May 2012, Fab employed 155 people in the U.S. and 250 worldwide, with plans for expansion. According to its website, Fab is committed to creating a "different kind of company," and it challenges other companies to try to lure away its talent. Perks include a weekly drawing for $500 on top of salary or other bonuses, according to Mashable. AOL reported that in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, with power outages and transportation nightmares, Fab awarded a $50 bonus for each day that employees found ways to work while the office was closed.
- Jetsetter: Tab at the local coffee shop. This travel startup assists clients in planning their next getaway with expert knowledge and special travel deals. It also hosts coffee break escapes for workers, reports Mashable. When an employee needs a pick-me-up at the local coffee shop, Jetsetter picks up the tab. In other words, the company supports employees and local business, all in one (caffeine-fueled) swoop. Jetsetter currently keeps a relatively tight staff; its LinkedIn page reveals an employee count of 51-200 employees. While a smaller staff may generate more competition among jobseekers, it can also boost camaraderie as coworkers grab that cup of joe with a familiar face.
- Lot18: Plenty of wine, plus plane tickets. Web-based Lot 18 understands the importance of blowing off steam every now and again. This unique online wine seller delivers libations for customers and vacation goodies for employees. Business Insider writes that after working for the company for two years, Lot18 employees could take either a full month off with salary or two weeks paid vacation plus two airline tickets to anywhere in the world.
- Qwiki: Free daily commute. Qwiki transforms pictures and videos into short, interactive movies through an innovative Web video format. According to Business Insider, employees at this startup are along for the ride, in every sense of the phrase. When you work for Qwiki, your daily commute is paid for, whether you drive a car, catch a train, or even cycle to the office.
- Rent the Runway: Borrow a couture dress. Rent the Runway, which offers couture style for less, aims to fulfill Cinderella dreams on a shoestring budget. For employees, that budget could be zero. The Wall Street Journal reports that Rent the Runway employees can rent couture fashions for free. According to Mashable, the startup also offers free yoga classes, in case workers need to de-stress after a night of looking fabulous out on the town.
- Uber: Free, unlimited car service. Black car transportation startup Uber has mobile apps that let you request a ride and then charge it automatically to your credit card, tip included. Uber prides itself on being "everyone's private driver" -- even if you're an employee. Business Insider notes that Uber employees enjoy free, unlimited car service, including a ride to and from work each day.
- Warby Parker: DJ training, happy hours, and daily catered lunches. Warby Parker is dedicated to providing chic, unique eyewear at a competitive price point. Warby Parker states that it was founded to revolutionize the eyewear market -- and with perks such as DJ training and happy hour, it is also revolutionizing the workplace. According to Mashable, this startup also provides its workers with delicious, catered meals every day. Who says there's no such thing as a free lunch?
- ZocDoc: President's Club tropical vacations. ZocDoc helps clients find the right doctors for them, and it also helps employees find their own personal oases. Mashable writes that this wellness startup offers top sales performers top-notch, tropical vacations as a bonus for work well done. With such perks, it's not surprising that ZocDoc was named one of the best small businesses to work for by Crain's New York Business in 2011 and by Great Place to Work® in 2012.
You may be wondering how to enter into jobs that carry such bountiful perks. With the right education -- whether through traditional or online colleges -- you may beef up your qualifications and boldly seek a place at one of these up-and-comers. Some snazzy employers even pick up the bill for studies, especially for courses related to work. That's a perk you may want to scout. Company policies on tuition reimbursement vary, so be sure to do your research.