Earlier this year, Startup Daily profiled a Sydney-based startup called Collabosaurus, which aimed to solve one of the most time-consuming problems facing businesses: the forming of mutually-beneficial strategic partnerships. In some cases, identifying opportunities for synergy, actually convincing the relevant brands to partner with you, and then implementing a strategy can take years.
Six months after its launch, Collabosaurus has a steady stream of recurring revenue and a growing user base. The platform launched in March after having attracted 250 signups in its pre-launch period. In the months since, Collabosaurus has reached 1100 active users. The majority of users are fashion accessory and food brands, though a number of beauty brands, design agencies, accounting firms, and tech businesses are also on the platform.
This platform works through a matchmaking algorithm. Upon signup, a user is asked to enter details about the type of collaboration they’re interested in securing, their target market, and marketing assets, such as social media following, excess product or email database. The software then matches them with potential, valuable strategic partners.
The growth of Collabosaurus means founder Jessica Ruhfus, who was working a full time job as a marketer and PR representative, working as a barista part time, and tutoring HSC students while developing and launching the startup, has been able to give up the full time job. Though Ruhfus is fully dedicated to Collabosaurus, she’s continued working part time as a barista and English tutor, explaining that she’ll get bored if she’s only doing one thing.
Ruhfus said it’s been exciting to see collaborations form through the platform.
“The most common so far has been social media cross promotion. That’s as simple as two brands getting together and going, ‘Well we have complementary products that our audience would be interested in’ and they just do cross promotion,” Ruhfus said.
The platform operates on a three-tiered subscription model, with the cheapest subscription setting users back $30 a month. This allows users to create one active project and send five requests to connect every month. Next up is the $60 per month subscription, targeting small businesses and startups, allowing for three active projects and 20 invitations to connect per month. The third tier costs $90 per month and allows for unlimited active projects and connections. This tier is aimed at larger businesses like PR, marketing, and events agencies. The free version of the platform allows users to set up projects and view matches, but does not offer connectivity.
Of the 1,100 active users on Collabosaurus, Ruhfus said there are around 300 paying subscribers, though the flexible subscriptions mean numbers change from month to month; however, the platform is seeing a stable five percent subscription rate from month to month. These users are companies big and small, with Topshop recently using the platform to source a caterer for a collaboration in Melbourne.
Ruhfus has been running events to market the platform and educate businesses about the value of strategic partnerships. Through this, she’s seen her own network grow, hosting lunches with talks from people like Rewardle founder and CEO Ruwan Weerasoriya and Declan Lee, director and co-founder of Gelato Messina.
The platform has already gone international, with a number of brands from North America and the UK joining Collabosaurus in its pre-launch stage. Ruhfus plans to properly expand into these markets over the coming months.
“I had three separate completely unrelated businesses from Canada somehow find Collabosaurus and sign up. I got in touch with them straight away and because I had to know how they found us, why, if they think it’s worth it, and with everyone I’ve spoken to so far, it seems there’s quite a small business culture in Canada, it’s quite similar to Australia. They have a lot of cool, creative things coming out of the works there and I think it would be an interesting one,” she said.
Moving forward, Ruhfus sees the tech space as an opportunity for growth, with only a handful of tech companies currently using the platform, and will also be looking to target venues.
“There are so many opportunities for venues, particularly in their off-peak hours. I’m always preaching ‘you have something someone else want’ and venues need to look at their space as a significant marketing and partnership asset. Goals for venues are usually social media growth, content creation, and overcoming the challenge of driving local newcomers into their venue to experience it first hand. Event partnerships for venues are extremely beneficial for achieving these goals and for valuable brand alignments with particular industries,” she said.
Over 37 million people attended more than 412,000 business events in Australia in 2013-2014. These events generated $28 billion in direct expenditure, $13.5 billion in direct value added, and over 179,000 direct jobs. With these figures coming from business events alone, the potential in the wider market is much larger.
Ruhfus believes a huge opportunity also lies in the nature of the collaborations brands work on. She said brands need to take advantage of creative ideas to provide value to each other’s audiences.
“Usually, the craziest or most creative collaborations get the most attention, and I’d love to see more of these that result in press exposure and exposure outside of social media alone,” she said.
Ruhfus envisions Collabosaurus being acquired by a company such as LinkedIn further down the line, but before that, she said it needs to establish itself in the market as “the go-to, original, and only source for strategic partnerships. We’ve had some competitors emerge that are so far unsuccessful, which we take as a compliment and a good sign. We’re on track to being extremely desirable to potential acquirers and I’m loving every second of building this baby up!”
Featured image: Jess Ruhfus, Founder, Collabosaurus. Source: Provided.