Localwise: Keeping It All In The Community

Localwise founders Ben Hamlin and Maya Tobias understand the unique challenges of small businesses.  As children of small business owners, it’s literally in their DNA!

The pair of Haas MBA graduates participated in last year’s regional NSF iCorps program and as a result, ended up pivoting away from something customers told them was “nice to have” to something that’s essential—staffing locally.

“Craiglist and other large sites can be overwhelming for both employers and staff,” explains Tobias.  “By focusing on hiring local residents, employers can build a more robust community that works, shops, eats and engages locally.”

Localwise currently serves local businesses in Oakland and Berkeley, with plans to expand to the entire Bay Area soon. Job seekers can find anything from a social media marketing internship at a local startup to a food truck job to a nanny position. In the few months since launching, Localwise has already helped over a hundred local businesses hire new employees.

Maya recently shared her thoughts on the value of the iCorps program:

What was best part of iCorps?
The iCorps program introduced us to an incredible group of mentors who we are still in touch with today. They’ve seen our business evolve from just a concept to a fully functioning product with thousands of users. The customer interviews that we did through iCorps gave us the foundation we needed to create this company.


What is most lasting learning and are there any tools that you’re still using?
We learned how to listen closely and create a product and features that customers really need, instead of just building something for the sake of building. Our customer interviews did not stop when the program ended. We’ve incorporated all of the theories of customer development into the way we run the company. We’re contstantly seeking feedback from local business owners and applicants to see how we can improve the hiring experience for them. Our aim is to completely transform the local hiring market, but we can’t do that in a vacuum.
Any wisdom you’d like to share with the upcoming cohort that starts on June 18?
Don’t start building anything (even in your head) until you’ve done a ton of customer interviews. This will give you the flexibility to truly respond what you hear from customers. If you go into the interviews with a solution already in mind, that will cloud all of your conversations.

See how Localwise can help you @ www.localwisejobs.com!