Paige Craig is the CEO & Cofounder of BetterWorks, an LA based company focused on “Making Work Rewarding” for small & medium business across the US. He is also an angel investor, board member and advisor to both early-stage consumer internet and new media companies as well as companies in the national security and defense sectors. Paige began his career in the military in 1992 when he was recruited and given early selection to West Point, the United States Military Academy. In 1995 Paige resigned from West Point, traveled the country and enlisted in the United States Marine Corps and served in a variety of domestic and overseas intelligence roles. After his military service he served as a consultant to the Department of Defense and Intelligence Community where he specialized in counter-intelligence, terrorism and emerging technologies. In 2003 he founded Lincoln Group, drove into Iraq and built the company from the front lines of Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon and Africa. In early 2007, Paige stepped out of the daily management of the company and started to pursue his passion for entrepreneurship & technology and became an angel investor.
Since April of 2009, Paige Craig has invested in over 40 companies and focuses primarily on small business software, entertainment platforms and large social data companies. He has invested in a wide range of companies in San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York City, Boulder, Austin, San Diego and even New Jersey.
When he’s building companies or investing, Paige travels the world and enjoys diving, snowboarding, surfing, climbing, mountain biking, running and generally doing anything that involves a bit of adrenaline & risk. He currently resides in Santa Monica and his home is always open to young entrepreneurs passing through town.
What are you working on right now?
As CEO I generally divide my time into four big areas: Vision, Communication, Talent and Customers.
Vision – refining what we do and why we do it; I usually spend evenings in bed scrawling ideas on my moleskin and during the day talking to customers, employees, industry experts and scouring the internet and daily life for new ideas around rewarding, motivating and improving the workplace. I consolidate those ideas into visual mappings and key ideas and then bounce those off the team on a whiteboard, in person or through group discussion.
Communication – I constantly refine our message and seek ways communicate our vision, our solution and our day-to-day success to customers, employees, influencers and the media via email, twitter, facebook, linkedin, blogs, speaking events, parties and more.
Talent – I spend 3 to 4 hours every other day reviewing resumes, talking to candidates on the phone and identifying future hires in person and online.
Customers – I work day to day with my sales & marketing team figuring out the best way to win customers; probably half of my time is operational, figuring out what’s working and how to improve it. The other half is looking to the future and setting the foundation for a scalable and cost effective sales & marketing strategy and the infrastructure needed to grow nationally. We’re going to launch nationally in a few months and take over the top twenty major cities in the US – it’s a crazy goal and I expect we’ll beat and exceed even our own expectations.
What does your typical day look like?
630am/7am wakeup and work out. I usually run and put a couple questions in my head and think about these business ideas as I run down the beach. After that I do emails, twitter, facebook, linkedin messages while walking to work. In the office I jump on salesforce.com and check our sales & marketing performance then talk to sales & marketing folks on what’s working and what’s not; make a decision and change if needed.
Then phone calls with future hires, business partners, solution providers. I sit in the middle of our office and can hear sales people, vendor leads talking with customers; when I see or hear customer feedback that impacts our product I shout over my desk and learn a bit more and if it’s relevant I’ll condense what I just learned into feedback for the product team. I’ll generally do some email, phone calls and in person meetings with business professionals who are introducing us to big clients or to distribution channels where we can attract a network of businesses. I sit out in the open and my cofounders, sales team, vendor team, product, operations team, and engineers come to me throughout the day and we talk about pieces of the business: features, payment processes, marketing message, content strategy, feedback from customers; whatever comes up – whatever level of detail. I’d say half the time I make a decision on the spot and half the time I’m just soaking up information and building a mental model of the business that will be translated later into our financial model, budgeting, organization, features, vision, etc.
My desk is actually the reception desk next to the kitchen – so there’s no avoiding me and I get to see every vendor, customers, service provider and person who walks in our door. Daytime is usually very tactical – responding to emails, talking to people, learning and meeting new customers.
By 6pm the day to day stuff slows down and I spend time working on scaling the company; building pipelines into new talent; figuring out processes to scale what we do; thinking about the meaning of what we do and making sure that our product actually adds real value to the employees, employers and vendors who rely on us. If I don’t have an evening networking event where I’m recruiting, selling or pitching the company then I’ll grab dinner with employees or business professionals and discuss business. Between 8pm and 10pm I’ll review our budgets, forecasts, goals, organization and processes and sketch out ideas on a moleskin. After 10pm I’ll scour the internet for new ideas, tools, thought leaders that affect the business. Around 2am I’ll make sure my alarm is set and then I tune out.
3 trends that excite you?
Offline businesses using online services; intersection of the business graph & social graph; transparency.
How do you bring ideas to life?
10% thinking, 20% finding great people to do them with, 70% doing.
What inspires you?
Solving big, big problems; the grand canyon; the limitless power of the human spirit.
What is one mistake you’ve made, and what did you learn from it?
I move too fast, sometimes solving problems that others should be solving; I’ve learned to delegate and accept mistakes & longer execution times in order to develop the people around me.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I have a ton (seriously) and give them away all the time. I just thought today that I’d love to see kiosks with interactive displays; let me buy items at a discount (or even free) in exchange for my email, twitter, cell #. You’d connect token identity with actual consumption and have a massive network of displays for a big DOOH play. And I’d seriously use it. Throw it into universities, dorm rooms, office towers… could be fun.
What do you read every day, and why?
Salesforce.com reports & customer feedback.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read, and why?
Ender’s Game – inspirational and fun, but even more important is an underlying lesson about tactical execution, strategy and the quite common disconnect between grand strategy that doesn’t emerge until the final chapter.
What is your favorite gadget, app or piece of software that helps you every day?
Who would you love to see interviewed on IdeaMensch?
Why did you found BetterWorks?
I love the idea of making work rewarding for employees; helping millions of companies across the US recruit, retain and get the most out of their talented people. There’s a huge opportunity to recognize, reward and motivate employee in real time. A lot of folks focus on real time information, real time video, real time whatever – we’re focused on real-time rewards and real-time recognition in the workforce. Building a platform that could fundamentally alter the way companies recognize and reward talent gets me insanely excited.
What do you do for fun?
Other than work, I like to meet entrepreneurs and help them with their businesses. Maybe that sounds lame but I get a ton of enjoyment helping people think about their problems, their solutions. Other than that I love diving, snowboarding, trail running and exotic travel; unfortunately I haven’t had much time for that lately.