Talent Acquisition Founder Spotlight: WorkLlama

Saleem Khaja, Co-Founder & COO, WorkLlama

Sudhakar Maruvada, Co-Founder & CMO, WorkLlama

Saleem Khaja and Sudhakar Maruvada are the co-founders of WorkLlama, a candidate engagement platform with ATS integration. Originally a solution for on-demand staffing, the duo quickly realized their focus needed to be on technology that supports staffing, rather than becoming a staffing agency themselves. WorkLlama is focused on three main pillars: a referral engine, automated candidate engagement tools, and a unique platform for managing communication with candidates.

Get to know the co-founders of @WorkLlama in @TalentTechLab's latest #TalentAcquisition Founder Spotlight! Click To Tweet

Saleem is the chief operations officer and a technology evangelist. He has over 22 years of experience in business development, product strategy, and operations for a wide range of industries. Saleem obtained a Micro-Masters in Digital Product Management from Boston University, MBA from IowaState University, and a Bachelor degree in Computer Science from the National Institute of Technology, India.

Sudhakar is the chief marketing officer and a serial entrepreneur with a strong passion for solving complex problems. In 2011, he co-founded nuVizz and created nuDeliverIt, a multi-sided network platform to track last mile delivery for e-commerce, trucking, wholesalers, and end consumers. In 2014, nuVizz launched Wellryde to provide Uber-like transportation for Medicaid and Medicare patients in the USA and abroad.

Talent Tech Labs caught up with Saleem and Sudhakar for a brief chat.

How did you get into the talent acquisition space?

Sudhakar: I spent 20+ years in supply chain and ERP, building solutions and growing companies from the ground up. I was fascinated with helping manufacturers, retailers, and tech companies connect their products to customers. This is what inspired me to create a solution for matching employers and the workforce.

Saleem: I have a history in logistics and warehouse management, which exposed me to workforce challenges in light industrial. I saw a need here due to the growth in eCommerce, low unemployment rate, and the changing landscape of workforce. As a result, I built and successfully launched a two-sided platform in the transportation space for clients who wanted an on-demand staffing solution.

WorkLlama started out as a staffing agency, then shifted into technology. Why the change?

Saleem: Staffing looks easy, but it is not! Technology looks hard, but it is easy! At our core is a technology company that made an attempt at being an on-demand staffing provider. We learned very quickly that we are ill-equipped to be a staffing agency, so we went back to what we do best -building innovative technology products.

What are the biggest challenges in getting WorkLlama off the ground?

Sudhakar: WorkLlama is a multi-sided network platform and a big challenge for us is deciding which side to develop. Do we develop the workforce and attract employers or develop the employers and attract the workforce? The next big challenge is staying current with all the operational functions and liabilities that come with managing the workforce.

How is WorkLlama different from similar platforms on the market?

Saleem: What similar platforms? 🙂 We don’t build point solutions! We take a holistic approach to candidate/employee experience and this is rooted in our long term vision of delivering human-like interactions.

How does WorkLlama integrate with an employer’s existing recruiting stack?

Sudhakar: WorkLLama has an open-ended API and easily integrates with any product or technology stack that has a similar architecture. Why is providing a great candidate experience so important for recruiters today?

Saleem: Because of competition in the market, shortage of labor, and changing demographics of the workforce. Candidates today have more employment options and can be more selective, so recruiters need to build stronger relationships in order to attract the best talent.

What attracted you to Talent Tech Labs?

Saleem: We wanted to get an unbiased evaluation of WorkLlama and strategic guidance from industry experts who see many solutions on a daily basis.

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Let’s get to know a little bit about the people behind the chief executive titles.

First business idea

Saleem: Mobile Movie Theaters

Sudhakar: nuDeliverIt

Fill in the blanks.

Saleem: Being an entrepreneur requires a lot of grit and less of complacency.

Sudhakar: Being an entrepreneur requires a lot of persistence and less of impulsive decisions.

Best thing a client said to you.

Saleem: We trust you

Sudhakar: You have no idea what your solution could do to the industry and the human experience that it could provide.

In one word, describe the culture at WorkLlama.

Saleem: Industrious

Sudhakar: Inspirational

Favorite Podcast

“How I Built This” by Guy Raz

What is your superpower?

Saleem: Power naps

Sudhakar: Focusing on the present

Your first hire at WorkLlama.

Our CTO Krishna Vedula

If a movie was made about your entrepreneurial journey, what would the title be?

Saleem: Bounce Back

Sudhakar: Last Stride

In one word, describe your leadership style.

Saleem: Pacesetter

Sudhakar: Visionary

Last song you listened to

Saleem: “Sultans of Swing” by Dire StraitsSudhakar: “The Miracle” by U2

What book should every entrepreneur read?

Saleem: Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth

Sudhakar: Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

Favorite recruiting hack

Keep candidates engaged.