“An outsized impact”: How startup Qwilr secured ex-Atlassian Ben Mackie as its new head of engineering

Qwilr's new head of engineering Ben Mackie. Source: supplied.

Just months after securing its Series A funding, Aussie startup Qwilr is ramping up growth with the appointment of Atlassian alumni Ben Mackie as its new head of engineering.

Founded by former Googler Mark Tanner and childhood friend Dylan Baskind in 2014, Qwilr creates interactive online documents for sales and marketing teams to present to potential clients.

The new hire follows its $10.8 million funding round, closed in May. At that time, the founders told SmartCompany the business has stayed strong throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and the mass move to working from home disrupted traditional sales processes.

Now, Mackie sees a startup going from strength to strength.

“The opportunity and the market is just so huge,” he tells SmartCompany.

He’s had his eye on businesses bringing disruption to the documentation space for some time, he says.

“I’ve been exposed and seen a lot in terms of technologists disrupting old ways of doing things,” he adds.

And he’s been aware of Qwilr for some time, too, he says, and it was a mutual connection who introduced him to the founders.


Qwilr founders Mark Tanner and Dylan Baskind. Source: supplied.

“The opportunity and the degree to which Qwilr was passionate about delivering that disruption was a huge attraction to me, in addition to the values connection I felt.”

In the head of engineering role, Mackie will be working on building the startup’s ability to make the most of cloud-based products and technology. But, that’s not his immediate priority.

Rather, he’s focusing on culture.

“I’m really looking to build on Qwilr’s already great culture, but to create a place where engineers can thrive and do work they enjoy,” he says.

As he grows the startups engineering team, he’s hoping to build “a perfect environment for them for them to make an outsized impact”.

Ultimately, when students graduate from university and talk about places they’re excited to work, he wants to see Qwilr at the top of the list.

Qwilr has the potential to be “the go-to place for engineering talent”, he says.

Of course, having joined from Atlassian, Mackie has the experience of working within one such coveted company. And he’s learnt a few things at the Aussie unicorn that he’ll be bringing to Qwilr.

“I learnt a lot at Atlassian,” he says.

“The belief that you can disrupt an existing way of doing things; the belief that you have a better way of working; and really instilling that belief in the team around you to build that future vision … that’s one of the biggest motivators I picked up and want to share with the new team.”

As well as being a big move for Mackie and a win for Qwilr, this move potentially represents a further maturing of the Aussie startup ecosystem, as a whole.

It’s often claimed that success stories like Atlassian’s serve to enrich the tech sector. We have indeed seen several former Atlassian employees break away, inspired to launch their own ventures.

Seeing an employee depart to join a startup in its early stages is perhaps just another iteration of the same phenomenon.

“I do think it’s positive,” Mackie says.

“There’s a lot that’s said about increasing the knowledge economy for Australia and really building that as a muscle for our country,” he explains.

“That really needs diversity. It needs different groups of people approaching different markets, thinking about solving world-class problems from different angles.”

Having a growing tech ecosystem, with many businesses tackling different problems from different angles “can only do great things for Australia”, Mackie adds.

NOW READ: “We compete with spreadsheets”: Meet two former Atlassian employees striking out on their own

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