The traditional model for a startup has been to find funding, find people, and then find an office space to work in. The rise of co-working spaces has turned part of that model on its head, with startups flocking to shared work environments which provide the space they need, as well as networking opportunities, events spaces and boardroom options.
Cloudpeeps founder Kate Kendall is one entrepreneur who has found success – and happiness – in co-working. She’s a tenant at Brisbane’s $5 million co-working space The Capital, which incorporates two distinct shared spaces: Fishburners and Little Tokyo Two.
The Capital was established in October 2016, and is located in the heart of Brisbane’s CBD. It’s designed to nurture and connect startups with government, corporates and investors, and is a key plank in the Brisbane 2022 New World City Action Plan.
“Cloudpeeps is a premium freelance platform designed to help freelancers find work and manage their business,” said Ms Kendall.
“It’s a software-as-a-service offering, because it also allows freelancers to manage business invoicing, agreements, payments and contracts.” The organisation currently has around 20,000 freelancers on its books.
According to Ms Kendall, the majority of its customers are creative professionals, including writers, designers and people working in public relations. Cloudpeeps has raised about $1.2 million in angel funding from investors, both locally and in Silicon Valley.
Ms Kendall and her business partner Mat Holroyd moved their business to The Capital co-working space from Silicon Valley in response to winning a $100,000 Hot DesQ grant from the Queensland government.
“I had been working on both sides of the market as a freelancer for a number of years, and saw an opportunity,” she says.
“There are big freelance sites that are offering work for as little as $US5 per hour, and I would never work for that amount. At Cloudpeeps, our minimum hourly rate is $US30 per hour.”
She said that co-working spaces have their positives and negatives, and that founders looking for a shared working space need to evaluate their needs, and what is being offered, carefully.
“Some co-working spaces can be a bit unfocussed and noisy,” she said. “The advantage of The Capital is that is has four levels, including Fishburners and Little Tokyo Two, and they are really ‘get stuff done’ environments.
“Other spaces are more about meetings and talking, where you really want an environment where you can make things happen.”
One of the advantages of The Capital is that along with hot desks, it also offers private offices, as well as boardrooms and an event space, she said. Cloudpeeps currently has four desks, and is looking to add two staff members.
In addition, the company has made extensive use of the boardroom and events spaces for meetings and planning days.
Ms Kendall also said The Capital is an exclusive environment that is membership-based.
Founders and entrepreneurs wanting to work there have to undergo an approval process after submitting an application.
“It’s exclusive, and I feel that I am at the right place,” she said. “It’s full of other founders working on their businesses, and it’s a good place to network and meet like-minded people.”
Her advice to other potential founders is to recognise the resourcefulness they have within them.
“You can build with limited resources, and you can test a product in a lean start-up manner. It’s a matter of making the most of what you have, and taking advantage of all the benefits of a space like The Capital.
“As you scale,” she continued, “you need to find people who you want to engage with, who can work with your vision and make your business a success.”
With the rise of co-working spaces, there’s a shared environment for just about any founder and start-up. Ms Kendall said shared environments are a lot like gyms – you can pick and choose the membership and facilities and the amount you want to invest, and find something that is just right for you.
Brisbane Marketing is the economic development board promoting and shaping Brisbane as a destination of choice to invest, work, study, visit and live. This article is part of a series designed to examine Brisbane’s growing reputation as a progressive and globally connected economy.