Jessica Ruhfus shares lessons on building a business whilst working 3 jobs

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Meet Jessica, founder of Collabosaurus, we caught up with her to discuss being a #GIRLBOSS and how she built a business whilst working 3 jobs:


Describe Collabosaurus in one sentence?  

Collabosaurus is like a dating site for brands, connecting businesses for powerful cross promotion and marketing collaborations.

How did the business idea come about?

I’d previously worked in fashion & lifestyle PR, as well as small business marketing. In these roles, I got frustrated sourcing partnerships for our events – whether it be venues, goodie bag inclusions, photographers and other creative collaborations. We were working with tight budgets, so collaborations were what we needed. It always seemed like such a scramble of research, reaching out, following up and negotiating and there was nothing out there making the process easier. Tinder was becoming popular at the time, and at the ripe old age of 22 I registered the domain name for Collabosaurus and started building as a solution to this problem! The big idea for Collabosaurus is connecting brands of all sizes (where the big guys play on the same field as the small) and from all over the world, enabling brands to expand quickly and creatively on tight budgets – no matter what their size.

How did you convince brands and influencers alike to come on board with your idea?

I think at first it was a little bit because of the novelty factor and people were curious in the ‘Tinder for brands.’ Then, brand partnerships such as Red Bull x GoPro, Spotify x Uber, Peter Alexander x Moconna started emerging and people began to recognise the huge value and impact of collaborations. We were also privileged to be responsible for an event collaboration between TopShop TopMan and The Dessert Parlour in Melbourne early on, and this led to some great interest from big and small brands alike.

Collabosaurus has always been about growing authentically. Rather than spending thousands of dollars on advertising, playing in a crowded space, we encourage brands to team up and tap into each others audiences. This has a win/win effect and doesn’t necessarily involve the exchange of dollars. Also, not only do brand collaborations help you reach new customers on social media, through events or products – but you’re also powerfully growing your network at the same time. Brands and influencers alike realise the need to grow their brand and communities, and look to Collabosaurus as an affordable way to make BIG waves.

We’ve been following you for a while (all the way from London) and know that you started Collabosaurus whilst holding down a full-time job, how did you manage to juggle both, what kind of time commitment and sacrifice did it take?

When I started Collabosaurus I was actually already working 3 jobs! I was working full time in Marketing, tutoring High School English after hours and Baritsa-ing and waitressing on weekends. I honestly can’t tell you how I juggled it all, somehow I did – there were a lot of late nights and I was definitely very unhealthy. I did all of it for financial reasons as I had just got myself into a mortgage and it was unlikely that Collabosaurus was going to make it big in its first year. I slowly phased out the other jobs, quitting my full time job first to balance waitressing 3 days a week & tutoring nights with building Collabosaurus. This was a really slow process and I really only finished waitressing this year!

Starting your own business is a huge time commitment and inevitably requires sacrifice – but it’s all part of it! I wouldn’t change a thing.

How has business and life changed since quitting your job?

I have the lifestyle I’ve always dreamed of, but I’ve never been so tight on money! Relying solely on a subscription business where prices start at $30 means that it’s not always certain how much revenue we’ll do.  We’re steadily growing each month (and just about to kick off a capital raise – eep!) But some months require a hefty tax payment, or additional costs that come out of nowhere. We’re still very much a startup, which I love! Quitting the 9 – 5 so I can work ridiculous hours on my own business baby has been crazy, but I have flexibility, pride and ownership I’d never have working for someone else.
What 3 key lessons have you learned whilst growing your new business?

  1. Everything takes a lot longer than you expect
  2. Outsourcing is amazing and has changed EVERYTHING for me
  3. Setbacks are awesome, the best ideas come from being backed into a corner!

Working as a brand and business match maker, what would you say is the biggest mistake small businesses make when collaborating with an influencer?

I’ve seen brands and influencers make critical mistakes on both sides – I think the whole arena is fairly new to people. We partnered with Law Squared this year to offer legal contract & agreement templates in The CollaboHub as a way to combat costly mistakes made on both sides of a collaboration. I’d say the biggest mistake often made on the brand side is not communicating the results expected of the collaboration. Engaging an influencer to do a few social posts and not letting them know of your overall marketing goals or agenda means that they can’t work to help you achieve them.

What does a good collaboration look like?

I believe that a good collaboration is one that offers value to their audiences and is leveraged well. What I mean by this is that two brands with similar audience demographics partner up for something creative and then make sure that as many people know about it as possible! You could have the coolest brand collaboration in the world, but if no one know about it – what’s the point? The brands involved need to make sure there’s a marketing plan behind the collaboration so they can take advantage of their respective email lists, social media, events, communities or media opportunities. Don’t worry though, we built checklists and planner templates in the CollaboHub too so you don’t get stuck.

Your Instagram account is popping!! How important is Social Media to your growth?

Thank you! I put a lot of effort into Instagram. We still see that 60% of our sales ultimately come from Instagram, so we foster it to reflect that. Social media has been absolutely integral to the growth of Collabosaurus, I believe it’s where we got our advantage early on. When we launched three years ago, I couldn’t name a single other B2B tech company using Instagram well – so we found our space there.
What’s next for Collabosaurus?

So many things! I can’t talk about a lot of them, but at the moment we’re completely rebuilding the website with a whole set of new features, and kicking off an investment raise to help us execute a fabulous overseas launch. We already have collaborators in the UK, US, Canada and New Zealand, however we’ve never actively marketed in these areas and want to invest some time into expansion overseas. This will mean that any Australian brand, or US brand for example can wake up and think “I’d love some more clients in London” hop on Collabosaurus and establish a relevant connection in under 5 minutes.

After a new website build, mobile optimisation (maybe even an app) and an overseas launch, we’re in good stead to compete more seriously in the digital advertising space – stay tuned!

Who would be your dream collaborator?

I am obsessed with travel. So for slightly selfish reasons I would love to collaborate with an airline!


We’d like to say a huge thank you to Jessica for joining us for this in depth interview.

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