By NATE GARDNER
Karan Walia, an Executive MBA student at UT’s Sykes College of Business since August 2015, is making use of the Entrepreneurship Center and Accelerator Program with his own company, Zuloc.
Originally from a small town in India called Renukoot, Walia received his bachelor’s degree in business management from the West Bengal University of Technology. Growing up in such a small town — Renukoot is a full overnight-train ride away from Kolkata — Walia credits his family for much of his success.
Even Walia’s mother, Kavita Walia, who is a teacher by trade, decided to work for herself.
“I come from a family of entrepreneurs,” Walia said. “Even my mother decided to strike out on her own and become a tutor.”
Walia’s father, Jagjit Singh Walia, owns the largest company in Renukoot, specializing in logistics, in his hometown. His brother, Manveer Walia, started an ecommerce business that works with Amazon.
During his education, Walia spent a summer in Nigeria teaching children, which further solidified his desire to start his own business.
“It was experiential learning for both of us, the kids and myself,” Walia said. “Seeing what these kids could do, it really gave me the confidence that I could do more with my life.”
With that experience and motivation, Walia started formulating a plan for his future. Having spent five years working in human resources, he knew well the myriad of issues that employers — and jobseekers — face. With this knowledge, Walia started developing what he hopes will be a better way for employers and jobseekers to connect.
In December 2014, Walia started developing Zuloc, a website and mobile app to foster business-to-candidate networking. He decided to further his education to aid in this process and, in the fall semester of 2015, started at UT. Since then, he has worked tirelessly to see his dream achieved.
“From day one, he was here and excited about Zuloc, but his focus and dedication to the projects has been really amazing,” said Dr. Rebecca White, director of the Lowth Entrepreneurship Center.
Although this project was his brainchild and he spent countless hours working on it, Walia has never been too proud to seek outside help and advice, or even to change some key aspects.
First, White introduced Walia to Markus Waite, a fellow MBA student and CIO of PharMerica, who would become his business partner and CEO. Walia was then introduced to Keri Bigelow, founder of Living HR, who would also become a partner.
With this team assembled, the tech company agreed upon a name — Zuloc, coming from a mashup of a German word zu, meaning “making progress” and loc, being short for location.
Originally designed to be a professional networking resource, Zuloc has been reworked as a matchmaking service — an eHarmony of jobs.
“That’s essentially what it is,” Walia laughed. “It’s kind of a matchmaking platform between employers and candidates.”
Walia has taken all of these changes in strides and continues to work everyday on getting the product to market.
The team hopes to launch the first beta version of the website in early April. It will only be in available in Tampa at first, but there are already over 60 major companies signed up with around 1,000 candidates, Walia said.
Currently, the companies consist of banking and finance, technology, advertising and marketing, and nongovernmental organizations, though Walia hopes to continue growing and balancing out the industries.
The idea for how the website and app will work is straightforward. Jobseekers will fill out a profile by answering quiz-like questions, and possibly playing games, in two sections: How I Rock, and How I Roll. In the first, How I Rock, the questions will be geared toward qualifications. In the How I Roll section is where things get different. The questions for this part will focus on how someone works, the environments they prefer and their personality. This will allow the website to pair candidates with companies whose corporate culture would be a good fit.
“Employers right now get 1,000 or more applications for every job they post, and even the qualified ones, they don’t know if they’ll necessarily fit in,” Walia said. “We hope to get that down to around 50 or 60, with all of them be actual good matches.”
Anyone interested in signing up for the website’s launch can do so at Zuloc.co.
Although all startups go through growing pains, Walia’s work ethic alone may drive it to success.
“There’s a quote on the [Entrepreneurship Center] wall by Steve Jobs about perseverance, and it reminds me of Karan every time I see it,” White said.
That quote reads: “I’m convinced that about half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance.”
Nate Gardner can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.