By Elainna Ciaramella
Twins Cameron and Morgan Williams were raised in Crete, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. In high school, they were track athletes, but as fate would have it, both of their life journeys would lead them to Salt Lake City, Utah, where Cameron’s life came to an abrupt end in 2021 due to a brain tumor, leaving sister, Morgan, with his legacy, EverWoke.
Morgan affectionately described Cameron as a track athlete who wanted to be a “champion.” In college, he participated in field events, and ended up excelling as a triple and long jumper. Cameron went to the Junior Olympics, placing, and that catapulted his trajectory as a collegiate athlete at the University of Oklahoma, but at age 19, he was diagnosed with his first brain tumor, which required surgery.
Although Cameron recovered from brain surgery, jumping was now out of the cards and his Olympic journey came to a screeching halt. Cameron didn’t give up on school. He earned degrees in economics and African American Studies, and took that Olympic athletic mindset, pivoting the trajectory of his career.
One day, Cameron walks into a recruitment event on campus dressed in sweats and a hoodie, sees a company he never heard of before interviewing called Goldman Sachs, and walks up and says, “Hi, I’m Cameron.”
He impressed the Goldman Sachs representatives so much, they interviewed him on the spot. That encounter led to an internship opportunity in 2011 at Goldman Sachs in Salt Lake City, which turned into a full time position. A couple years later, he moved to Domo, during which time he gained notoriety for his diversity efforts, achieving “celebrity-like” status.
Before his passing, Cameron held various roles in his young life—twin brother, junior Olympian, volunteer minister, associate in the finance division at Goldman Sachs in Salt Lake City, founder of EverWoke (rebranded to Blendyd Studios), and director of partner solutions and director of diversity at Domo. While working for Domo during the day, he was working on his side hustle, EverWoke, which he planned to work full time eventually.
To understand the roots of EverWoke, one has to go back to 16-year-old Cameron living outside of Chicago, who was working his first job at Ace Hardware. According to his sister, Morgan, as part of Cameron’s job at Ace, he had to do inventory and “he hated it,” she said.
“This is the dumbest thing I ever had to do,” said Cameron, so he leaned on his neighbor and godfather, who had a knack for computer science to help him create an inventory management program via Excel that would allow a young Cameron to wrap up inventory with a touch of a button and leave work early, baffling Cameron’s manager in the process.
“Cameron always operated with a framing mindset around, ‘There are things we have to do, but we don’t actually have to be the ones to do them,’ and he carried that with him through his time at Goldman Sachs and Domo,” Morgan says. She went on to explain how Cameron’s efficiency mindset led him into the world of which industries need more efficiencies, taking him down the rabbit hole of trucking and hence, the birth of EverWoke.
Cameron didn’t dream of a startup idea involving trucking out of thin air. Growing up, the Williams family had a couple of friends in the trucking industry, and a young Cameron considered being a fleet owner for a minute.
Envisioning life as a fleet owner where he could enjoy the freedom of the open road and “explore,” he rode along on some rigs with those family friends mentioned and went so far to obtain his commercial driver’s license (CDL), but once he got more familiar with the job and all the manual tasks and paperwork involved, he realized that lifestyle wasn’t for him, but what he could do is help make the traditional and outdated systems more efficient—enter EverWoke.
Cameron launched EverWoke, a transportation logistics company, in late 2018 while working at Domo. He held the role of EverWoke’s CEO, architect, and chief technologist, but he brought on a board, a CFO, President, Investment Advisor, and a COO to ensure the company succeeded—with his sister Morgan, as one of its shareholders.
But Cameron never got the chance to see his dream reach its full potential. In June 2021 at age 33, Cameron Russell Williams passed away, and in the process, his team at EverWoke lost their visionary leader. As the board discussed the future of the company, his sister Morgan, raised her hand and said she’d take over for him—that occurred in July 2021.
In August 2022, Morgan moved to Utah as part of joining the University of Utah’s Masters of Business Creation program, which Morgan contends, “acts very much as an accelerator” to help startups ensure they are clear on the operational, legal, financial, support side of things necessary to build a scalable business.
During Morgan’s first semester at the U, she was hyper-focused on where EverWoke was playing in the trucking industry, and how the team could strategically position the company to meet those needs. She then strategically made the necessary pivots to continue Cameron’s vision while making sure they had a product that could quickly and seamlessly launch into market and fill the immediate demand—in January 2023, EverWoke was rebranded to Blendyd Studios—a name that honors the genius of Cameron’s last big idea. Once the pivot to Blendyd took place, she was joined by co-founder and CTO, Christopher Pawlukiewicz.
Rolling out the summer of 2023, Blendyd Studios is bringing high-tech mobile-first automated solutions to truck driver recruitment. “We follow the American Trucking Association very closely,” Morgan says. “As we talk to leaders in the trucking industry, we see that talent is key to keeping the industry moving, but there are shortages of talent, which are limiting factors for the industry being able to move itself forward.”
“The immediate issue is getting more drivers. There’s a lot of conversation and a lot of different theories about what needs to happen, everything from compensation, to culture needs to be different, to lots of different factors at play, but as I hear it coming from a technology standpoint, what we see is essentially a leaky funnel when it comes to recruitment,” she says.
According to Morgan, recruitment is highly competitive. If you’re not able to get to the candidate first, if you’re not able to create a recruitment process that moves people through fairly quickly, if you’re not able to communicate with them when where they are, aka their phone not their computers, all of these are problematic for companies keeping job applicants in their funnel.
Blendyd decided to play not so much in the realm of how to get people in the funnel, but how to keep them in that funnel. Blendyd is automating many of those manual tasks in the industry, starting with lead qualification, which is traditionally, a very paper-based process involving lots of faxing—an outdated one at that.
“You’re not going to get to people if you’re going back and forth faxing,” Morgan says. “So, how do we automate that or make it a digital process? How do we communicate better by integrating email and scheduling tools with each other?” What Blendyd is doing is modernizing this traditionally tedious-manual process by reaching people on their cell phones via text.
Say someone is interested in a trucking job. Great. In less than five minutes, the trucking company and the candidate can have two-way communication. The employer might be asleep. The candidate might be emailing the trucking company or contacting them at 2 a.m., but with Blendyd’s technology, the candidate can be reached 24/7, and where they’re at on text message.
This beats the trucking company waiting three days because the applicant contacted the employer on a Friday to hear back from the employer to schedule an interview or call, or get their questions answered. Blendyd helps trucking companies automate these painstaking processes, saving them loads of time.
If you look at hiring in the trucking industry, how do people find the job? How do they interview and make sure they’re qualified for the job? How are they onboarding? Blendyd saw that before getting in the funnel, before getting hired, there’s a process that has to happen that is highly manual, and leaving a lot of people who are dropping out of these processes.
“How do we fix that first, and then long-term? When I think about Blendyd, I really want to think more deeply about who is being recruited into these roles,” Morgan says. “When you look at trucking, it is dominated by middle-aged white men, which is fine, but retirements are coming up and retirements are not keeping pace with new hires—there’s so much untapped talent and potential.
“I think about Millennials and Gen Zers. I’m a Millennial woman—women, all these populations with folks are significantly underrepresented in trucking, but think about the future talent of our economy overall. Women, Millennials, Gen Z—those are the target populations, and so how do we make sure trucking has the tools to shepherd that talent into those roles?
“Because we’re a tech company, we’ll also be able to get some of this data to understand what works in this communication, what works and what doesn’t, what is being said or done that’s leaving women out, or Millennials or Gen Zers out.
“As technology continues to evolve, how do we signal from the beginning of the hiring process that trucking is a part of the technology revolution? Well, you have to have tech tools to signal that, and so long-term when I think about the conversation about where trucking needs to go, I want Blendyd to be positioned to help lead that conversation.”
Morgan pointed out how she’s a black Millennial woman who is underrepresented in trucking, which is just like everything else she’s done in her career thus far. She’s bringing a whole new outsider perspective to the industry, and she’s excited to do it.
Elainna Ciaramella is a business journalist and writer living in St. George. Elainna interviews business owners, researchers, university leaders, and c-suite executives from all over the country. Her curiosity is endless and she is constantly seeking information that will intrigue and inspire readers.