Goal Digger Series - Jess Ruhfus
Posted by Adam Jelic on
Meet Jess Ruhfus, Founder of Collabosaurus, a marketing platform that match-makes brands for clever collaborations and successful partnerships. With a background in fashion publicity and marketing education, Jess became frustrated when she saw so many amazing collaboration opportunities getting missed, or not being leveraged properly. So in 2015, she launched Collabosaurus (fun fact: the idea came to her at 2am while she was drifting off to sleep). Since then, it’s attracted over 6500+ brands, including Porsche, ASOS, Olay, Topshop and one of the largest global retailers in the U.S. And we should also mention that Jess won the 2019 B&T ‘30 Under 30’ award in Entrepreneurship (no big deal), and has spoken for Apple, Vogue, General Assembly, ADMA and The College of Event Management - phew!
Needless to say, Jess is an absolute powerhouse and we’re excited to chat to her about how she stays focused during this challenging time, her go-to podcasts, tips for working-from-home and the first book that changed her world-view (hint: he’s a Dr!).
2020 has been challenging so far, how do you stay focused and what keeps you inspired?
First the bushfires, now a global pandemic! It’s been wild. I’ll be honest and say it’s been a bit of a rollercoaster when it comes to staying focused and motivated but there are a few things that do help. I swear by a free application called ‘Toggl’ to keep me on track, alongside a daily to-do list (nothing beats a pen and paper). I prioritise sleep to avoid burnout and always take a walk in the morning to grab a coffee and set my to-dos for the day.
I keep inspired by ensuring I work on creative projects that I love and balancing out the necessary day-to-day business tasks. I also love Instagram and Pinterest for new visual ideas, and I normally listen to a podcast episode or two on my commute to-and-from work.
What does your morning routine look like?
I’m not an early bird and believe that getting up at 5am is not the hallmark of all great entrepreneurs (if I ever do this, I crash at 1pm and am useless after that). Each to their own! I’m more of a night owl.
I’ll usually wake up around 7:15am after a few hits of the snooze button, wander down to my local coffee shop and take a few minutes to plan out my day in caffeinated zen. Most of the time, this is followed by listening to a podcast. When I get to my desk, I’ll tick off the thing-I’ve-been-avoiding first to get it off my plate.
Give us three of your best work from home tips.
Make it a happy space
Invest in indoor plants, some fresh blooms or burn a candle! It’s amazing what this does for productivity.
Zoom has a beauty filter
This is a lifesaver for all of the work from home conference calls! Click video settings > advanced and check the box ‘touch up my appearance’.
Consciously re-allocate the commute time
I bet you thought “I’ll have SO MUCH extra time” when you realised you didn’t have to commute to work each day huh? This, for most people, quickly falls by the wayside. My tip would be to recognise the new hour or so you have in your back pocket and use it to pursue something fun, creative, or even use it to take a walk outside.
Podcast or playlist - what are you currently listening to?
Both! Podcasts I’m loving right now: ‘Hack Your Own’ PR by Odette&Co, ‘Lady-Land’ by Lady-Brains, ‘The Pitch’ by Gimlet and ‘Dolly Parton’s America’ which I recently finished and unexpectedly loved!
Playlists: ‘Kent Street’ by me (this is our office playlist on Spotify) and Zoe Foster Blake has some great playlists, as do Smack Bang Designs
How has your definition of success changed from the start of your career until now?
I think I’ve always sought external validation for things. I’m a lover of gold stars and perfect test scores! When I started Collabosaurus, we gained a fair bit of media attention and lots of people saying how great the idea was, which is something I initially fed off.
Of course, publicity alone doesn’t build good business. It took years to build up a basic foundation from a customer, product and financial perspective which I have a whole new appreciation for now. I have my own pillars for personal and business success, but it’s such a journey and these pillars change as you hit certain goals in your life. I’m loving the journey right now and am looking forward to the next milestones (knowing that the goalposts for success will no doubt change again).
What's the best advice you've received and who was it from?
I have so many pieces of advice I lean on! My two favourites are quotes I’ve found around the place that always seem relevant: “Great things never came from comfort zones” and “Don’t wait for opportunity, create it.” I suppose you can say that Pinterest gave me this advice…
What's the first book you read that changed your worldview?
Okay, seeing as it’s a first, I’ll go with ‘The Lorax’ by Dr. Seuss which I later wrote an english paper on in high school. It stuck with me and had some valuable lessons for adults and children about ruining the environment for financial gain - loved it. Harry Potter probably also changed my life in some way I’m sure, but I couldn’t tell you how! #HPnerd
What's your proudest achievement?
Building Collabosaurus as a non-technical, solo founder and having it survive is something I’ll always be proud of. It’s no easy feat and I’ve hit many hurdles along the way, which have almost led to throwing in the towel. I’m so proud I stuck with it and I’ve built something used by 6500 brands around the world - that’s massive to me!
I also won’t ever forget winning a B&T award in 2019 - that was industry recognition I never expected I’d be lucky enough to gain. Keynoting at Vogue Codes was also big for me - very proud!
What are the three things you’re grateful for today?
Sunshine, all of our houseplants and cooking (I’m obsessed!).