Jessica Ruhfus is the Founder & CEO of Collabosaurus, an online match-making platform for brands. Her passion for creative brand experiences moved her from a background in fashion PR and small business marketing to developing a partnerships platform for brands of all sizes. She believes that business collaborations are necessary to build a modern business, gain exposure in new locations and reach audiences in an authentic way.
Whether it be for referral partnerships, product, social media or event collaborations, Jess built Collabosaurus as a way connect bloggers and brands to source and create growth opportunities in any industry that uses social media to connect with a wider audience.
Jess now runs entrepreneurial events around Australia, is a marketing consultant for over 20 brands in the fashion, lifestyle and food industries, and runs the Collabosaurus platform for over 2900 members. Jess has also spoken for Apple, General Assembly, The Collective Hub, ADMA & The College of Event Management.
Tell me about Collabosaurus.
Collabosaurus is the matchmaker for brands. We connect complementary brands for powerful cross promotions and collaborations in events, social media, product and referral partnerships. Collabosaurus makes finding and negotiating creative partnerships simple, streamlining the partnership process to mirror a ‘dating site’ structure.
The platform was launched in April 2015 and has attracted over 2900 brands, big and small, to create and source growth opportunities.
A valuable site for startups to large corporations, Collabosaurus is anonymous and will match users based on relevant, shared target markets and goals.
Creating Brand Partnerships + Sponsorships
How did you get started?
I got started working in PR and marketing, before realising that Tinder was incredibly popular and should be applied to business! At the time, there weren’t any platforms making brand collaborations simple & quick, ensuring they’re mutually beneficial, or acting as a pool for both big & small brands – which is why I started Collabosaurus! I was 22 when I had the idea, and it’s really starting to roll now after a good 3 years of research, building + rebuilding- all that jazz.
What inspired you to get started?
I actually have my favourite blogger to thank for inspiration. Bri Emery of DesignLoveFest is one of very few bloggers I consistently stalk, and the events she put on were the most fabulous, inspirational [not to mention, visually STUNNING] examples of incredible brand collaborations in action. This, coupled with my own frustrations in the industry sparked the idea.
How do you stay motivated?
I figured out very quickly that I absolutely needed a network of action-taking, inspirational people around me. Being pushed to get dressed, leave my couch and pyjamas to go to the office every day was a game changer in terms of productivity!
I’m also a very competitive person, with a bit of a chip on my shoulder to prove people wrong. Of course, setbacks get me down like anyone else, but give me 24 hours and I’ll be ready to prove people wrong [myself included]
What makes you different from the rest? What is one key factor of your business that makes you successful?
We’ve had competitors pop up over the last 2 years – which is a great validation that we’re onto a good thing – but a lot of them have failed.
I put this down to the huge priority I put on our social media community, free resources + building relationships [of course, amazing brand collaborations of our own are definitely a huge reason we’ve stood the test of time so far – proof they are NECESSARY in business building]
3 things that someone who wants to be a start in the same path as you should keep at top of mind:
It will likely take about 3 times as long as you think to generate the revenue you want. Maybe more. It depends on your business model, but with a software brand like Collabosaurus, development costs are a headache.
There is also a lot that we need to continually invest in educating the market too – but it’s all worth it! I wouldn’t change a thing.
What are some struggles that made it difficult to get from what you were doing before to this?
Money was a big factor! When I started Collabosaurus I had just signed a mortgage and was already working 3 jobs. A full time gig in marketing, an after hours job tutoring high school English, and a weekend job in hospitality.
This delayed the launch a long time, but what I ended up doing was keeping a part time job while I built Collabosaurus [I only gave that up this year!]
Tell us a point in your life when you didn’t ever think you would make it?
Honestly, running a tech company means this kind of worry pops up at regular intervals! I’d say once every 6 months at least I’d have a moment!
If you could break down how you got to where you are in 5 major steps, what would those steps be?
1. Partnerships + Collaborations
2. Never stopping the hustle – going to events, reaching out.
3. Ongoing gathering of feedback + actioning it
4. Building a varied network of friends who know about things you don’t!
5. Always knowing the next move.
Who told you no?
A LOT of people.
Especially brands I reached out to for collaborations in the early days. Guess who is knocking on my door now? Best feeling ever.
Of course, there were a few times I should have listened to the ‘no’ but it is a great experience for me to make the mistakes and iterate.
What was your turn-around point?
I was just about ready to throw in the towel, when I got an email from APPLE about partnering on an event. I almost died.
It’s amazing what other peoples’ belief in you can do!
Did you always have a dream to become what you are now?
What are personality traits that you have that let you know you were perfect for this?
I’m ambitious as heck! I see the world through rose coloured glasses haha I’m quite positive and confident [slightly naive, but it’s worked to my advantage so far!]
PS: The Yes Supply Collective and Jess Ruhfus hosted an exclusive masterclass on how to collaborate with brands, and create effective sponsorships. Jess broke down everything you need to know PLUS even gave a perfect script you need to start working with brands. Want access? Join the Yes Supply Collective and get access to tools, strategies and lessons on how to create a profitable business out of your passion and only take yes for an answer.