Illustration by Ryan Etter—Getty Images/Ikon Images
By Anne Fisher
September 1, 2015

Back in July, an odd email turned up in Brian Brown’s inbox, saying someone had suggested him as a great candidate for a new job. “I was curious,” he says. So he clicked on a link that took him to the home page of an online recruiting service called Boon.

Just by chance, Brown, a district sales manager for logistics company Worldwide Express, was looking to hire a couple of sales reps with a combination of skills he was having trouble finding. So he created a company profile on the site, with a description of what he needed, and quickly got a short list of referrals. He hired one of them, his “ideal candidate,” a couple of weeks ago.

Brown was so impressed that he’s recommended Boon to other hiring managers. He’s also signed up to refer friends for jobs. “I’ve already ‘booned’ [referred] three people for job opportunities so far this week.”

If you’ve never heard of Boon, you probably will soon. It’s generating lots of buzz among Silicon Valley entrepreneurs in search of elusive talent who are unwilling, or unable, to pay a traditional recruiter the usual five-figure fee. The site also appeals to hiring managers, including Brown, who are disillusioned with paying hundreds of dollars to post a job opening on one of the big-name job sites.

Membership is free, both for companies and for the individuals who sign up to refer candidates. If the employer hires someone via Boon, it’s billed $5,000. Boon then takes a 10% cut—and passes $4,500 to the member who made the referral.

Founder and CEO Dakota Younger says he designed the service, based in Los Angeles, as “a win for both sides. Especially for a startup, $5,000 is a lot of money, but it’s less than most recruiters charge, and this is more targeted than a typical job board.” Paying people $4,500 for each referral who gets the job, he adds, “means that they really put some time and thought into recommending exactly the right person.”

Boon has already grown exponentially on word of mouth alone. Younger says the site, launched earlier this summer with a marketing budget of approximately zero, has already signed up about 400 companies with job openings—and more than 10,000 people eager to refer their qualified friends.

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