Startup News

Why Kate Kendall is returning to Australia and bringing her freelance startup CloudPeeps with her

Angela Castles /

Kate Kendall

Atto founder and CloudPeeps co-founder Kate Kendall. Source: Supplied.

After finding success in Silicon Valley, prominent Australian entrepreneur Kate Kendall is bringing her freelance talent marketplace CloudPeeps to Australia, having been lured back to her home country by Advance Queensland’s Hot DesQ program.

The $8 million Hot DesQ program was created by the Queensland Government’s Advance Queensland initiative, which offers Australian expat and international founders up to $100,000 to relocate their startups to Queensland for at least six months, with 29 startups invited to participate in the latest round of the program, according to the Queensland Government.

Originally hailing from Melbourne, Kendall launched CloudPeeps, a platform for freelancers and online professionals, in beta mode in 2014 with co-founder Shala Burroughs, after moving to New York in 2011 and founding The Fetch, a popular curated email of digital and creative events.

CloudPeeps launched in Silicon Valley in 2015 and now boasts 20,000 users, according to Kendall, who is also a board member of the Aussie Founders Network, a community of Australian founders, investors and industry advisors based out of Silicon Valley.

The startup employs a team of five and two of those employees, plus Kendall, will relocate to Brisbane for at least six months.

CloudPeeps will be based out of Fishburners coworking space in Brisbane, and the team will be sharing their “experiences, advice and connections with Queensland entrepreneurs” as part of the Hot DesQ program — something Kendall says the team is looking forward to.

Kendall says, at its heart, the program is about “participating in and giving back to the local community”.

“I’m been impressed with the level of camaraderie and friendliness shown by the community already,” Kendall tells StartupSmart.

“I saw a tweet recently saying that while Melbourne and Sydney were fighting amongst themselves to be Australia’s startup capital, Brisbane has quietly emerged as a leader. It’s exciting.”

Kendall is active on social media, currently boasting close to 53,000 Twitter followers, and her Instagram account shows her 5,720 followers the far-flung locations she gets to work from — one of the perks of running a freelance-focused business.

Queensland’s picturesque beaches should offer Kendall plenty of Instagram-worthy moments, and she says the state offers a “unique combination” of being both a global startup hub and having a “world-class lifestyle”, while its proximity to Asian “digital nomad and remote work hubs” makes it a great fit for CloudPeeps’ freelance offerings.

Kendall says she is “excited to launch [CloudPeep’s] operations in Brisbane,” after the Hot DesQ program came “highly recommended” to her from a first-round participant.

Hot DesQ’s program offers founders $100,000 in non-equity based funding, and Kendall says this access to funding offered a strong incentive to participate in the program.

“This [funding] ensures founders won’t dilute their cap [capitalisation] tables or give away a large percentage of their company to participate, which is common practice with accelerator programs — and can sometimes be up to 10%,” Kendall says.

She also says there is a cultural, as well as financial benefit to relocating her startup to smaller hubs such as Brisbane.

“As the cost of living and access to tech talent becomes unsustainable in the San Francisco Bay Area, many startups are looking at new regions to launch and grow their businesses,” Kendall says.

Kendall has been heavily involved in the Silicon Valley startup ecosystem, and says that she’s noticed more and more Australian expats returning home as the ecosystem matures.

“I’ve noticed a pattern that as entrepreneurs mature, they are looking to return to Australia for its high quality of life, healthcare and security,” Kendall says.

“Many of the entrepreneurs that moved to San Francisco around the same time I did, have returned or are looking to return to Australia.”

While Kendall herself will be based in Brisbane for just six months, Kendall says she hopes to establish a “long-term presence in Australia” by basing the core CloudPeeps team here while also operating a sales and marketing office in the US, “similar to what Atlassian, Culture Amp and 99designs did”.

“It’s a family-friendly place to build a company, and the ecosystem, including access to funding, has grown remarkably over the past seven years,” Kendall says.

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Angela Castles

Angela Castles is a former StartupSmart journalist.