Startups: Workers Take a Chance on Benefits

by Mark Carter  on Monday, Sep. 6, 2010 12:00 am  

"Ryan could have made more money at the Wal-Mart or J.B. Hunt logistics departments straight out of college, but I doubt he could have risen so rapidly," James said. "He took a calculated risk as one of our first four employees, but the risk paid off."


'It's Fun Coming to Work'

Aside from the potential payout, James believes it's just plain more fun to work at a startup. For many entering the job market these days, fun trumps cash.

"We try to create an exciting atmosphere that's just not possible at a larger company," he said. "Believe it or not, it's fun coming to work at Acumen Holdings. We have a pingpong table, a gong that rings multiple times during the day, and scooters are constantly whizzing around blind corners. ... It's an exciting, though somewhat dangerous, place to work."

The prospect of instant gratification is another lure. Employees - especially, as studies suggest, those in their 20s and 30s - want to feel like they're helping make the world a better place, and they want to feel that way from the get-go.

"The prospect of doing something that could really change the world and having a tangible, meaningful say in how the product or service was delivered was also a big motivator for me," Amerine said. "When I first began a startup in international telecommunications, I felt like we were democratizing access to the late 20th century's version of the railroad: telecommunications. We brought affordable communications to parts of the world that had been under the thumb of the government-controlled telecom monopolies for a hundred years. 

"Fighting the good fight was big fun."

Whether it's the gratification, the prospect of success or simply the pingpong, Acumen Holdings has grown into an attractive option - now at 35 total employees and boasting an employee retention rate of 100 percent in its first five years.

Green weighed the risks involved, dipped his toe and jumped in. The water's fine, he said.

"You'll learn more than you ever could otherwise, and from my experience you'll reap the benefits in the end."

Of course, this comes from the guy who rolled a 7.



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