A warm Queensland welcome for Kate Kendall and CloudPeeps
Kate Kendall is a British-Australian entrepreneur and writer who has been based in San Francisco and New York up until moving to Queensland with Hot DesQ in November 2017. Kate is the founder and CEO of CloudPeeps — a freelance platform that helps independent professionals connect with clients, find work and manage their business. Kate and her Technical Lead Mat Holdroyd are currently based at Fishburners in Brisbane and we catch up on how they’re finding Queensland so far.
How did CloudPeeps begin/what motivated you?
In May 2010, I left my job as a digital director of a magazine company in Melbourne and headed to San Francisco to check out what the city I kept dreaming about was like. I stayed in my first Airbnb in the Mission District, and really fell in love with the tech community. After that trip, I started consulting to different startups while digital nomading around the world. It was through freelancing that I noticed none of the freelance platforms out there were for me. Most of my clients came from referrals and my own network, and it wasn’t an option for me to charge out my services at $5/hour.
A year later, I started my first company, The Fetch. Here I was on the other side as a client — and as we scaled, I had trouble finding freelance talent, especially locally in the U.S. and Australia. It was because of this disconnect on both sides that I was motivated to start CloudPeeps. It wasn’t until 2014, that we tested it out in beta and launched the first marketplace product in 2015.
All in all, CloudPeeps exists to make it easier for quality independent professionals to sell their services online and grow their freelance business.
Was it always your goal to be an entrepreneur/startup founder- or did it come through an unexpected pathway?
For me, being a founder is about being a maker and helping people solve problems. I would say I have always been entrepreneurial but my goal was never to be an entrepreneur.
I grew up in a small village in England, then moved to regional Australia when I was 10 years old. I had no idea what an entrepreneur was and even then, Richard Branson was the only person I knew of. Early on, the idea of an entrepreneur seemed to be more about materialistic aspects, larger-than-life personalities, and someone’s wealth status — all of which didn’t really resonate with me.
As I went through university in Melbourne and was exposed to small business owners, and began to use sites like eBay to buy and sell goods, I started to spend more time thinking about online businesses. After a few more years of working for other companies, and realising how little focus there was on productivity or innovation day-to-day — as well as how witnessing how women can be limited in the workplace — I felt a huge desire to go out on my own. I wanted more flexibility and freedom, as well as input and impact — and this is why I became a founder.
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What’s the hardest thing about being an entrepreneur?
I’d say the loneliness… anyone embarking on the ‘Hero’s Journey’ goes through so many trials, tribulations, being outcast, misunderstood, vilified, constantly questioned — not to mention the more tangible aspects of financial and social sacrifice. It’s not easy — but it has become a lot easier. There are so many communities, spaces and resources for founders now — it’s definitely not as isolating as it was (especially as a female founder in tech) when I started out.
What are you packing to bring to Queensland?
It’s been a few months now and I didn’t pack appropriately for the summer heat here! The climate is rather mild in San Francisco, and you’re pretty much always wearing jeans and/or a sweater — or even one of those comical VC-style Patagonia vests. I can’t remember the last time I wore open-toed shoes in SF, so have needed a whole-new Queensland wardrobe while here.
Do you think the freelancing trend is here to stay?
I don’t really think of freelancing as a trend despite the gig and on-demand economy being hyped over the past few years. People have been selling their services and consulting to businesses for decades. That said, there have been a few trends that have contributed to more professionals going the freelancing route, and these include:
- The rise of location independence and remote work
- The desire for greater flexibility of how and when we work
- The desire for greater personal freedom
- The lack of security in full-time employment
- The rise of valuable specialized skills
- The normalization of companies outsourcing these skills
- The ease of running online businesses and finding work.
Are you a list maker or a last minute throw it all in the bag type?
Hmm. It depends: I use Asana for task management, as well as Google Sheets, Github Issues and ZenHub for product roadmap and planning.
Sometimes, I will also create a daily list in a paper notebook.
What are you aiming to get out of moving to Queensland with Hot DesQ?
We have been focused on launching a suite of new product features while here. Since being in Queensland, we have launched one of the biggest updates to CloudPeeps to date: our new plans and pricing model. Having the additional resources from the grant funding to invest in feature development has been a big bonus. Being based at Fishburners with dedicated desks has also allowed for greater focus.
What excites you about the startup ecosystem in Queensland?
How friendly and welcoming it is! It sounds a bit fluffy but these attributes can make a massive difference in a startup ecosystem. One of the challenges the Melbourne and Sydney ecosystems have is that they can be focused more on competing with each other than the bigger picture of helping all Aussie founders rise. Collaboration and inclusivity is vital. I’ve also been excited to be in the Hot DesQ cohort of such amazing global entrepreneurs.
What benefits are you bringing to Queensland?
Since being in Queensland, I’ve been mentoring founders on everything from fundraising strategy to building MVPs, and from product positioning to business success factors and OKRs.
I’ve also been able to connect founders with key contacts both interstate and in Silicon Valley.
Let’s say I’m interested in working for you — what do I need an interest in? What are you looking for?
This is actually a hard question to answer as no two hires are the same. It also depends on the stage of your startup: if you’re early-stage and just starting out, I’d look for someone with as much entrepreneurial experience as possible. You really want autonomous and scrappy do-ers who want to really get behind the company, its mission and make a job their own. As a company scales into growth or later-stage, I’d look for as much relevant experience in a specific role as possible. For instance, if I was hiring for a product manager — I’d dive into their direct product experience in a similar or larger company. In terms of interests, any interest is great — people without interests, passions or enthusiasm would be more of a warning sign.
Can you describe your perfect work day?
To be honest, my perfect work day would be when I’m not working! I’d prefer to spend the time thinking strategically about what’s next and exploring new market opportunities. As a founder, you’re often so operational or caught in the weeds, that thinking big picture can be a luxury. Elon Musk has a good set-up, although I think his flamethrower sales today are a bit ridiculous.
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What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received?
I don’t really have one piece of advice to share that changed my worldview. However, last year, an advisor suggested that CloudPeeps’ journey could also be a spiritual journey for me and that really stood out. You make a lot of sacrifices as a founder, and one area has been having the time to do more personal and spiritual development. By reframing the time I spend working on CloudPeeps as a learning experience of the spiritual kind — and that the experience is helping me grow in many areas I need to — I’ve felt more comfortable with the time I’m investing in it regardless of the outcome.
What is your vision for the future of CloudPeeps?
I’d love CloudPeeps to become the #1 place that independent professionals grow and manage their freelance businesses online.
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