Mar 12 2018
We had the pleasure of sitting down with Jess Ruhfus, Founder of Collabosaurus, and chatting about how she built Collabosaurus to what it is today, the launch of their new website and tips on collaborating in business.
Can you start by telling us a little bit about you, your background and how Collabosaurus came to be?
I fell into a journalism course after starting a cinematography degree that wasn’t exactly what I had envisioned. After a music journalism, radio and management course I was exposed to Public Relations, which is what I ended up majoring in.
From there, I got my first job in a fashion and lifestyle boutique PR agency, which was so great! I was the showroom manager which was a proper grad job – really long hours – I think my salary at the time was $33k a year on 12 hour days, and the office was about an hour and a half from home. I was stressed-out and working a lot but found it really interesting and completely different to any work experience I’d had, expectations I’d conjured up or hospitality jobs I’d previously held.
Part of the job was coordinating launch events and media showings while keeping to a budget. We’d be sourcing venues, catering, photography, ‘goodie’ bag inclusions and sometimes booking talent. The brands we were representing were already paying us as an agency, and so additional event budget every season was extremely limited. So, we would scramble together contra deals and collaborations (that weren’t leveraged very well) through our networks and a publicity-industry newsletter / digital noticeboard called Social Diary. Being a graduate, I didn’t have an extensive network, so I found the whole process messy and time consuming.
After the PR job, I started working for a marketing education company aimed at small business. Here, I noticed hardly anyone was pursuing partnerships, which was astounding seeing as they’re one of the most cost-effective, impactful marketing strategies out there. I’d ask them “hey, why are aren’t you partnering? Is there a reason you’re not doing it?” Often it was because they had been rejected before and they didn’t have the confidence, or they heard ‘crickets’ after reaching out and didn’t receive a response. I found a lot of people dismissed it as a concept completely not worthwhile.
One day, I was pulling together some potential partnerships for an event and facing the usual time consuming struggles. Tinder was becoming really popular and that’s when the idea came up for Collabosaurus. I mean, how amazing to have a dating-style platform, but for brands to build great cross-promotional relationships? As a marketer, this was a no brainer. I thought I was a genius and started building out the idea in secret – which makes me snort with laughter, now.
How did Collabosaurus develop from your first idea to what it is today?
I built the initial product as a tool for publicists because that’s where I was predominantly experiencing frustrations myself, and all my PR friends had said, “absolutely, that’s what we need!” Then, of course, as soon as I launched it the publicists weren’t the ones hopping on board. Publicists and big brands wouldn’t hop on until we had a bigger user base or until we had some case studies to go off, which is totally fair enough. So, our first prototype, which I sank way too much money into, was attracting startups and small businesses, who were completely confused by the industry jargon and the way the site was structured.
From there, I was fortunate enough to meet my now-business partner, Nick, who helped flip the messaging and design to fit SME audiences. To save money, we put new designs on-top of old code and avoided rebuilding the website from scratch. Launching this version saw us quadruple in about a week which was absolutely amazing.
3 years on, we are set to release a brand new Collabosaurus, a site we have built fresh from the ground up. For this version, we’re moving into the digital advertising space with tracking & reporting, a significantly improved algorithm and a host of new features. Did you know that brand collaborations are up to 30x less expensive than other digital advertising? It’s incredible, and brands of all sizes have so much to gain from effective collaborations.
So for small businesses looking to collaborate, what can you offer them at Collabosaurus?
Collabosaurus is the matchmaker for brands. We’ll connect you with complementary businesses for clever marketing partnerships and cross-promotions in events, social media & products.
Not only will you be making use of a marketing tool up to 30x less expensive than other digital advertising, you’ll be growing your network at the same time.
In short – we’ll help you grow your audience! It’s free to start, too.
How long have you been going for now?
Almost 3 years! We kicked off in September 2014 as that publicity platform and in July 2016 we re-designed the website. Over the past 12 months we have been gathering data and a tonne of feedback ahead of our new website launch – It seems every year we have a new thing going on!
So you obviously would see some really good collaborations come through Collabosaurus, what have been some of your favourite ones you’ve seen come out of it?
There are so many! Collabosaurus has seen over 600 successful collaborations, so it’s really hard to pick one. I’m really emotionally tied to the early ones, simply because I worked hard on bringing those to life.
The collaboration between Printsea x Mickey Rose is a good one – Printsea do the most beautiful, illustrated print designs and Mickey Rose produce eco-friendly kidswear. For a product collaboration, they released a limited edition unisex harem pant for kids featuring a Printsea print. Micky Rose have said that this was one of their best-selling items yet! They both marketed to their unique audiences, which allowed them to effectively double their reach.
I also love the Topshop x Dessert Parlour event collaboration because it’s awesome when big brands and emerging brands collaborate. Topshop was running an event in Melbourne for 500 students, and their catering partner dropped out at the last minute. So, they hopped on Collabosaurus and sourced a collaboration with The Dessert Parlour, a local boutique patisserie. The Dessert Parlour produced around 1500 gorgeous, Instagram-worthy donuts for the event, saving Topshop approximately $2500 on catering.
In return, The Dessert Parlour was able to get in front of 500 locals at the event, plus exposure to over 300,000 people on Topshop’s Instagram, and then 30,000 people on Topshop’s email list. That was such a win/win because Topshop was stoked; they saved cash and the Dessert Parlour got awesome exposure.
Tell us about the name, Collabosaurus, how did that come about?
It was actually a joke to begin with! I love the idea of collaborations and I didn’t want to call it ‘partner up’ or anything like that, I thought that was boring. So, I nicknamed the business ‘Collabosaurus Rex’ while I was building the initial platform. Later, when we started exploring some potential names, nothing was singing to me as much as Collabosaurus. Everyone hated it, honestly, and now everyone loves it. People initially came at me with, “you can’t call it that because it’s hard to spell” and “it’s not memorable”. But, we have incredible SEO value – even if you grossly misspell it – because it’s so unique. I get a ridiculous amount of comments on how quirky and great it is and it’s proven memorable in time. I really love it, I have a bit of an attachment to it.
What be your ‘top tips’ for a really good collaboration?
My top tips are:
1. Make sure you have a specific goal in mind. Don’t just connect for connections sake. If you really want to grow your email list that month, for example, connect with brands that could help you grow your email list. Have that marketing goal in mind, because it’s less about the creative idea and more about achieving a specific growth goal. That leads to my second tip…
2. Don’t stress about having a big idea, or knowing who to partner with. That’s why we built Collabosaurus; we team you up with the right brand. If you don’t have a big idea in mind, it’s great! This gives you wiggle room to negotiate later. If your goal is to grow your email list and their goal is to grow their social media following, you can work on an idea that helps you both achieve that. Have a clear goal, but don’t get too stressed about having a big idea.
3. Know your target market. This is really, really important. Know exactly who you want to get in front of so that you can collaborate with someone who shares that same audience. For example, if your target market are men over 60 and my target market are female entrepreneurs under 40, it makes no sense for us to be collaborating because our audiences don’t line up.
What are some potential roadblocks that can occur when it comes to collaboration?
Absolutely! My top three are..
- “I’ve got nothing to offer” if you’re feeling like this, I PROMISE you have something to offer – even if you started your business yesterday. Think about time, skillset, services, products, and the community that you do have. Even if it’s 50 people, you have a community that another brand wouldn’t get in front of otherwise.
- “I’ve been rejected / taken advantage of in the past” that sucks. But this is one of the reasons we have build Collabosaurus in the first place. Our partnership with Law Squared means you get access to legal contracts & agreements to keep things legit. The Collabosaurus team will be there to hustle with you, avoid rejections & ensure collaborations run smoothly.
- “I don’t have a collaboration idea or know who I should partner with” great! Collabosaurus will find you awesome collaborators and ideas can be generated together with your collaborator (or with the Collabosaurus team inside the CollaboHub)
Have you had many mentors over the years and if so, what’s one piece of advice that’s stuck out for you?
It’s funny – I have never had an official mentor. I’ve found that a lot of the networking connections I’ve made along the way inspire me and have ended up in that mentoring role. I have my business partner, Nick, who has been on the Collabosaurus journey for the last 2 years. He has probably been the biggest mentor in terms of being constantly in contact and keeping me accountable. I also have a great network of friends in business who completely inspire me and help me along the way.
The best piece of advice that Nick has given me is that the growth and success of your company is your responsibility. I think we find it easy in the small business & start-up space to go ‘well this didn’t go to plan because this didn’t work’, or ‘this person didn’t do the right thing’. But, at the end of the day, it’s up to you. I think it’s really important to recognise that and invest time in ‘the hustle’ because it can be so easy to get stuck in the day to day. I have found that the best results and connections, partnerships and collaborations have come from when I really sat down and said to myself – ‘I’m going to do a bunch of pitches myself and I’m going to get out there and hustle.’
What motivates you?
I love people’s energy. That motivates me. I love networking and building collaboration partnerships; surrounding myself with people who have different views and skill-sets.
Nick is such a good motivator just because he sees things in a different way. He is an ex-finance guy so he sees the money side of things. He says things like, “cool, we can get to this if you can improve this, this and this number”, and that’s such a motivator for me because he can see the big picture and gets excited about it. I think being around other positive people is seriously important and motivating. It’s very easy to fall into the trap if you’re surrounded by people who are pessimistic or a little bit negative – that can really suck on your energy and has the complete opposite effect. It’s demotivating. So I think positivity is great curate around you.
What’s the most effective daily habit you possess?
That’s an interesting question (laughs) everyday is really different for me! But, the one thing I always do is get a morning coffee. It’s funny because my boyfriend said to me, ‘you could save thousands of dollars a year if you stopped drinking coffee’, and I told him ‘it’s so much more than a coffee to me.’ It’s a moment that I take to ‘check in’ a little, to take a breathe. That’s the ritual that I do, not just for the caffeine but also to get out of the office. I don’t look at my phone – I either flick through a magazine or the paper and it’s just so I can gather my thoughts for the day.
Lastly, goals for the future, yourself personally and Collabosaurus?
What’s next for us is changing the digital advertising landscape! Not an easy task, but we’re doing it already! We will be raising a round of capital to help us grow our organic pockets of users in the UK, Canada, the U.S and strengthen our presence in Australia. We want to make it easy and cost-effective, for any brand, of any size, to harness the power of brand collaborations and grow. Wish us luck!For the Collabosaurus podcast, check out:For android: They’re searchable on the Stitcher App, otherwise you can listen to the episodes straight through their pages at http://collabosaurus.com/
resources Mar 09 2018
I recently wrote a piece for Collective Hub on productivity and what to do when you just can’t seem to get anything done…
“I don’t know about you, but I can go through days of feeling unproductive… days. And it only seems to get worse the harder I try to work things out. I’ve recently discovered that the best thing for unproductiveness is to stop. Yep, just stop. And I’ll tell you why…
So often we get stuck in this spiral of being unproductive because we just can’t see past the problem. When we stop, take a break, and step back from the day to day, we can come back with fresh eyes and a new perspective, ready to tackle our problems head on.
Getting clarity of what you need to do and your next steps is so important in business and your career. My tip? Go home. If you can’t do that, go for a walk. Clear your mind of all your worries, pressures and concerns. Do something that has nothing to do with work, take your shoes off, get distracted by it all, and soon your mind will begin to feel free and you can start the day over.
As business owners, we often get caught in this trap of thinking that we must be working all the time. Well, that’s just not the case. Working in over time can cause serious burnout, which will ultimately bring on the unproductiveness. Even when you think you cannot afford to take a break, or you think that the business will collapse without you (it won’t), make time for yourself. Trust me, I learnt this the hard way. I was once forced, literally forced, to go on holiday and it was the most refreshing time. I came back full of ideas and a clear vision on where the business needed to go.
Try sharing your problem. You know that old saying, “A problem shared is a problem halved”? I am a big believer in it. You might think that no-one would ever understand. Well, they might not, but what’s the harm in trying? Find a mentor (we have plenty here at Think BOLD) or someone in your industry you can vent to. You never know, an outsider’s insight may just be the answer you need!
So next time you feel stuck and can’t see past your problem, go away, do something that calms you. Whether it’s praying, walking or whatever it is you do, do it. Seek advice where you can and soon enough you’ll reset and start to see that vision again with new creative ideas to help navigate your way through.”
Read the full article here: collectivehub.com/2018/03/just-cant-seem-to-get-anything-done-try-this/
Jan 31 2018
So you’ve just booked in your first mentor session? Well, let me just say, YAY! You won’t regret it. But how can you really get the most out of your session?? Well, here are our top tips for a successful mentor/mentee partnership…
First of all, CHOOSE CAREFULLY. You may already have a mentor in mind, someone that you really admire, but ask yourself, what do they have to offer that you can really benefit from? At Think BOLD, we’ve tried to cover as many areas as possible with our mentors so that there’s something for every one. We have experts in marketing, finance, law, branding, SEO’s, content creation, product development, ecommerce and so much more.
Secondly, BE PREPARED. You don’t get hours upon hours with your mentor so it’s important to make the most of the time that you do have. Have questions prepared, a little brief on who you are and what you do. We encourage our mentees to pop in as much information as possible about themselves/their brand in the checkout section of booking so that our mentors have a good grasp on the business and who you are prior to meeting.
Thirdly, TAKE NOTES. If you’re anything like me, you get so caught up in the moment and in awe of everything that is being said, that the second you get out of a session, you’re left thinking “Oh crap, what was it they said about this?” So take notes so that you can really take as much away from the session as possible.
Finally, and this might sound funny coming from us, but GO WITH YOUR GUT. While these mentors are incredibly wise and knowledgeable, they are there for guidance and they don’t know your business as well as you do. At the end of the day, its you who has to make the decisions and you who has to live with them. If you receive advice that doesn’t quite line up with your values or just doesn’t feel right, think about what they’ve said, maybe chat to another person about it and then take what you want from it. Having said that, our experts are the best of the best so I’m sure you’d never encounter that problem 😉
So there you have it! Four quick tips on getting the most out of your session. Now what are you waiting for? Book in today at FIND A MENTOR!
Nov 20 2017
We are rapidly approaching the end of 2017 and apart from being in complete panic as to how quickly time is flying, we are in a time of reflection and looking forward into what the new year holds.
At Think BOLD, we always go back to our vision, our reason why we exist and work through our new years goals from there. While my own New Years Resolutions come and go (especially when it involves any kind of diet or exercise regime), I am a firm believer that setting a vision or goals at the start of the year is HUGELY beneficial. The start of the new year is a great time to reignite that passion for your business, to start a fresh and forget any mistakes that were made in the past.
We believe that having your goals clearly written down makes a big difference, especially if you are looking at them often. It keeps you and your team accountable and helps you to visualise reaching that ‘end goal’.
- Your vision should be at the heart of everything you do. Start by writing down what the heart and soul of your business is. I heard recently that your vision should stir passion. What are you most passionate about for your business? This heavily comes into line with your brand values. What is most important to your brand and what makes you stand out? For us at Think BOLD, our heart is to see growth and development within our community.
- Who are you targeting? I like to put this in here as I think it’s SO important to always know who your audience is and make sure what you’re doing and where you’re going in business is relevant to your target market. For us, our community is hugely important and we want to make sure they are at the centre of everything we do.
- Next up, how do you want your customers or your community to feel? Take time to list some of the ways you want them to feel after an experience with your brand. If you own a fashion label, do you want them to feel confident, comfortable, or both? We want our community to feel valued, equipped and resourced to name but a few! Knowing these will help to set your goals for the year.
- Once you have the above laid out, you can set your goals for the year. For example, at Think BOLD we want our community to feel equipped and resourced so one of our goals is to create more resources to help you with everything you need to build a business. TIP: Start with the really big goals and work your way backwards, breaking them down to monthly and weekly goals. Look at financial targets, customer database goals, team goals and personal goals etc etc.
- Finally, once you have your goals in place, you can input a strategy to get there. Another example here at Think BOLD is to partner with our mentors and other experts to bring you the best quality resources.
When you have completed this, stick it up somewhere in the office, send it to all of your employees and I promise you, you will find it so much easier reaching those long term goals.