Founders in Focus: Shashank Saxena of VNDLY

For this month’s Founders in Focus series, we spoke with Shashank Saxena, co-founder and CEO of VNDLY, an Okta Ventures portfolio company. Shashank shared what drives the mission at VNDLY and how they work with Okta.

What is VNDLY and what is your mission?

VNDLY is a modern, cloud-based vendor management system (VMS) that’s changing the way companies manage their extended workforces. My partner Narayan Surabhi and I founded the company after many long, frustrated discussions about the things we couldn't do with existing VMS technologies that are built on two-decades-old technologies. 

Our platform is easy to use and has pre-built native API integrations that work with other leading digital-cloud platforms, making it easy to implement. Users can update their configurations as business processes and workforce needs change. And we chose to build our own API integrations so we can truly support our clients’ technology ecosystems, removing the burden of creating and managing that complicated piece of the equation. 

We built the company and the technology so we can fulfil our mission of managing the world’s extended workforce with our innovative technology, intuitive experiences, and positive personal interactions. 

What were you doing prior to VNDLY that led you to this moment?

Before starting VNDLY, I worked at The Kroger Co., one of the nations’ leading grocery retailers. Over my time there, I had many roles, including leading Digital and eCommerce Technology and Corporate Strategy. My teams were responsible for the company’s consumer-facing web, mobile, and e-commerce platforms. I also held a senior position with the Partnerships and New Business Development group. I was at Citigroup prior to that, where I was involved in leading the company’s digital payments transformation and worked on other exciting initiatives.

What is VNDLY’s solution? What challenge does it solve?

VNDLY’s VMS technology serves as the system of record for companies to source, engage, manage, and pay their non-employee workforce, whether that’s consultants, contractors, or temporary workers. We provide our clients with a cohesive solution for managing their entire (and right now, rapidly changing) extended workforces through four distinct components:

  • Extended workforce management
  • Statement of work management
  • Independent contractor management
  • Total talent acquisition

We are bringing the first truly modern, cloud-based technology platform to the VMS marketplace. VNDLY is changing the way users interact with their software, other internal departments, staffing suppliers, MSPs, and contractors. We unite every part of the workforce at varying levels.

When clients implement our solution, we can have their integrations up and running in minutes with our pre-built API integrations that are already supporting platforms like Okta and market-leading HR technology solutions. This means there are few (or no) financial and IT resources required on the client side to create and maintain them. And by reducing our clients’ investment while increasing their benefit, we help reduce technical debt.

We are also focused on solving broader issues that go beyond non-employee labor management. We help companies start and maintain their digital transformations by creating company-wide technology ecosystems that support the organization’s overall business goals. Our VMS technology and integrations are often the bridge that links procurement, HR, IT, finance, and legal, creating a data-sharing community filled with cross-functional teams.

Why did VNDLY want to work with Okta?

Our clients want seamless single sign-on access, so partnering with the industry leader in identity was a smart move. Today, almost 25% of VNDLY clients use Okta for single sign-on and/or provisioning. As Okta continues to lead the market in automated workflows for provisioning, onboarding and offboarding processes, our mutual clients benefit from our pre-built API integrations that result in simpler, more efficient processes.

Our clients need to provide immediate access to systems and facilities for their contract workers at the start of their assignments and revoke that access when assignments end. Not being able to properly manage this process can become a major security risk and compliance problem. Our API integration with Okta helps us ensure clients have a secure and compliant extended worker program. 

How is VNDLY working with Okta? What support do you look for in a corporate partner?

We are an integration partner starting to collaborate on accounts, which means our joint clients can have a seamless technology ecosystem experience.

For us, partners must not only provide exceptional technology and services, but also live by similar values. We are committed to being the world’s friendliest, simplest, and most client-centric enterprise software company, so we need partners that are solutions-focused, transparent, collaborative, and motivated. We know Okta shares these values.

What trends do you expect to see in the non-employee labor industry?

Right now, normal is anything but. The global pandemic has caused such disruption across labor markets, making it hard to predict what the new normal will be. However, we feel certain that the rapidly expanding and contracting workforces we’re seeing will become a more common component of extended workforce management. Our tool allows clients to adjust their workforces to their rapidly-changing business environments.

With more companies using greater numbers of non-employee workers, the need for fluidity in provisioning will continue to grow. Every aspect of the extended workforce management process will need to move faster, yield more accurate and reliable results, produce more useful data, and still meet traditional goals like lower costs, faster time-to-productivity, and reduced risk.

For these contingent labor programs to be successful in a fast-paced global economy, achieving real-time results will continue to be critical. Hiring teams and program managers will need to know who has access, who has equipment, and what they are working on, so companies can improve KPIs like cost savings, compliance with corporate policies, and time-to-productivity.

We also expect the back-to-work trend and reopening offices safely to be key corporate initiatives for our clients. Ensuring we can get people back to the office through safe, compliant measures will be critical, and our platform has built-in lifecycles to manage these processes.

Interested in joining Okta Ventures? Check out our FAQ here and feel free to reach out to our team or submit your business for review.