When colleagues and best friends Lauren Davie and Elena Andoniou decided to turn their love of iced tea into Those Girls, they never expected they’d end up on the high-rating reality television show Shark Tank and get to meet the likes of tech entrepreneur Jack Dorsey.
Earlier this week, the duo joined Dorsey, co-founder and chief executive of both Square and Twitter, on a panel to celebrate small business and the launch of Square in Melbourne.
During a one-on-one talk with him, the duo got to pick Dorsey’s brain for tips and tricks in turning a small business into a global empire.
“I understand our industries are very different but there are characteristics that make people do these big, amazing things,” Davie told SmartCompany.
“I like to tap into people to learn what it is that makes them do that.”
Fresh out of Shark Tank last year, Those Girls founding duo started plans to scale out their business after handing over 40% of the company for more than $70,000 to IT entrepreneur and shark Steve Baxter.
Before the show, Those Girls had built brand awareness by selling their product at festivals over summer but with Baxter’s insights they are now expanding their range from cool summer drinks to hot cider over winter so they can continue growing all year.
“Without Steve seeing the gaps in our business, we wouldn’t have realised that,” says Davie.
The business has since grown to 12 employees, with a head office and three-to-five active sites year-round.
“Originally Those Girls was a whole lot of homemade stuff,” says Davie.
Although the pair say they took quite a risk to go on Shark Tank, pitch the business before millions of viewers and hand over a higher stake of Those Girls than planned, Davie and Andoniou believe their ongoing relationship with Baxter has opened the way to grow in ways they hadn’t even imagined.
As first-time business owners, they faced a lot of known unknowns and unknown unknowns.
“[Shark Tank] gave us the money, yes, but two, it really helped us understand how business works,” says Davie.
Learning how to take calculated risks, assess their growth path and consider other revenue streams are some of the ways Baxter has helped Those Girls enhance their roadmap and plans moving forward.
They have now expanded to wholesaling and are slowly building up a clientele of retailers across Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland. Those Girls also continue to sell their drinks at markets and festivals throughout Victoria.
For most new business owners, it’s difficult to know how to do it, says Davie.
“We spent a lot of time learning what to do,” she says.
Andoniou says one of the hardest things they had to learn was developing a thorough knowledge and understanding of their financials and numbers to track how the business is progressing and make well-informed decisions on long or short-term goals.
“[Baxter] really helped us live and breathe in our numbers,” says Andoniou.
Before linking with Baxter and other mentors, Davie and Andoniou were accepting every opportunity ad hoc hoping it would take their business to where it needed to go.
But with their mentors’ advice, they are working more effectively toward growing in the right direction.
And the process doesn’t need to be stressful, they say.
Andoniou says Baxter recommended they take up the “80/20 rule”, a time management principle recommended for small business owners whereby the focus is on the 80% of tasks that are needed to achieve high outcomes.
“If the other 20% takes an extra four hours of your time, it isn’t necessary,” she says.
The team is now working hard to achieve “big things” as they secure spots for their drinks range in cafes, restaurants, bars and clubs.
“One thing that makes us really proud is that we were just two girls with an idea,” says Davie.
“These things can happen if people just put their minds to it, if you have the right attitude you can make anything happen.”