In the throes of launching a start-up, it's hard to keep up with the news. To stay informed in the fast-changing Internet marketplace, Graham Weihmiller, founder and CEO of Inc. (an E-commerce company that sells furnishings to college students), outsources information gathering to a network of potential hires, friends, and other contacts he calls "shadow employees." When he finds someone he likes but can't yet hire, he'll tap that person for quick research projects: background on a possible competitor, for instance. A side benefit is that both the company and the job candidate get to know each other better. "It brings them up the curve, so when we're ready to bring them on, they'll know exactly what's going on," he says.