Atmail article - ABC, 2014

Seaside start-up expands with worldwide business

By Jon Coghill

A Sunshine Coast-based business born of humble beginnings is taking on the world in the competitive industry of email design.

Peregian’s Atmail Software Company designs email software for larger internet service providers and telecommunications companies such as Optus.

Ben Duncan started the company by himself 15 years ago as an 18-year-old and it may now be the town’s biggest employer.

He says the business has clients in over 100 countries and has just set up an office in Santa Monica in the United States.

“We have about 4,500 customers worldwide and about 90 per cent of our business is export based, so a lot of clients in the US and Europe,” he said.

“We’d like to remain in Peregian Beach as our headquarters but have a presence in the US with more staff.”

Mr Duncan says the business employs about 30 people in the small seaside town but will probably have 50 to 60 workers on the roster in the next few years.

He says it received an added boost when it discovered fibre optic cables under David Low Way, which is the main road through the town.

“So we’re able to have high speed broadband here in Peregian without the NBN or Telstra,” he said.

“We’re trying to get more of Peregian Square wired up to provide a community-based free Wi-Fi.”

Stealthy expansion

The company’s clandestine-like presence was further felt in the town three months ago when it rented a former fashion shop and blacked out the windows to create a better work environment for its staff.

The only signs of life from the space have been its young, casually-dressed international workers entering and leaving.

Mr Duncan says the company has attracted staff from around the world eager to live near the beach.

It employs experts from France, Columbia, Korea, China, India, Sri Lanka, Germany, Austria, New Zealand and Australia.

“With this kind of software company you have to draw talent from all around the world and on the Sunshine Coast there isn’t the level or calibre of talent that we need,” he said.

Mr Duncan says although Atmail is an expanding company, it is trying to maintain a start-up culture - a hub for young computer users.

He says he encourages a working environment that balances work with play.

“A lot of our staff live nearby - there’s no massive commute,” he said.

“We live in a really good village - a really good community.

“I think it’s important in a day and age where you can run a business from anywhere that you choose a place like this.”