‘We picked a winner’: The founder of Australia’s first TikTok agency says the platform is doing better than ever despite fears of a ban

  • Born Bred Talent founder Clare Winterbourn launched her agency three years ago, before TikTok was a major force in online media.
  • The agency now has more than 60 TikTok creators under exclusive management, and more than 100 in their developmental roster.
  • Winterbourn credits the agency’s success in becoming one of Australia’s premier agencies for online creators to their focus on educating young creators.
  • Visit Business Insider Australia’s homepage for more stories.

The founder of Australia’s first talent agency to have a roster of TikTok creators says that business has never been better, even as the platform’s parent company remains locked in a fight over a potential ban.

Clare Winterbourn is the founder of Born Bred Talent. Launched just three years ago, the agency has cemented itself as one of the top places for online creator management in Australia.

But when Born Bred Talent was founded, TikTok wasn’t the cultural powerhouse that it is now.

“The industry has completely changed since then. When I got into it, the only two platforms were YouTube and Instagram. And after a year and a half, I discovered TikTok,” she said. “Now I rarely get asked to work with YouTube. For most brands, it’s not on their radar anymore.”

As of 2020, more than 1.6 million Australians are estimated to be TikTok users. Born Bred Talent has capitalised on this incredible growth by pivoting to becoming an agency that specialises in representing big Australian users on the short video platform.

“We were the first agency in Australia to release a TikTok roster. We were the first to launch a branded campaign onto the platform, too,” Winterbourn said.

Today, Born Bred Talent has a database with more than 3,500 Australian and New Zealand creators who they can work with. Of those, the agency exclusively manages 60 creators — including some of the top Australian TikTok users like Sarah Magusara and the Rybka Twins – and has a development roster of more than 100 up and coming users.

According to Winterbourn, it is Born Bred Talent’s focus on development that sets them apart from other management agencies.

“It’s a genuine career path for a lot of people. We have this great ability to recognise creators who are going to grow rapidly or could benefit from being part of the community. We work with them to develop strategies and execute them,” she said.

The agency runs weekly educational Zoom meetings with their clients, and works on diversifying their online presence from TikTok to creating content for a variety of online platforms. For Winterbourn, there’s an imperative to educate and guide the typically young creators who generally don’t have much professional experience.

“It used to be, with Instagram, people would blow up and wake up with hundreds of thousands of followers overnight. Then there’d be a huge expectations from brands that they’d know how to conduct business relationships with no one providing any guidance. With this new generation of creators, we’re taking a stand on that and equipping them with the tools to succeed,” she said.

Winterbourn says the strategy is working for them. Born Bred Talent focuses on working with Australian brands, but has recently signed on for clothing brand Superdry’s global TikTok account.

And not even the uncertainty around the TikTok’s future in Australia now settled) and the US (still up in the air) could slow them down.

Winterbourn said that brands showed little hesitation working with their creators — only one brand delayed their campaign – and, if anything, the media hype around the app drove more interest.

“It strengthened our creators. We bring them up to have other platforms. Obviously, some younger creators got scared about a bit of the media attention but it forced them to invest in themselves as content creators,” she said.

With TikTok’s future in Australia looking a lot more certain, Winterbourn is positive about the trajectory of the platform. She said she can already see a difference in how people are responding to their work.

“There’s a huge shift in recognition for content creators in Australia. Not everyone can do what they. It’s great to see the positive feedback that we get, and how people’s attitudes have changed,” Winterbourn said.