The Side Hustle: Build Ideas from the Ground Up
It takes a special kind of person to nurture and grow the entrepreneurial drive, and that drive is usually discovered at an early age. Tara Shelton, founder Dream & Do, the creative agency for startups, looks back on her childhood memories and remembers when her hunger for entrepreneurship began.
“Even at a young age I was always hustling. I had sisters and had always been the boss of them. I would design games and courses and activities and charge them for it and if they didn’t have enough money they would have to pay me in instalments,” Tara remembers.
This September will mark three years since Tara started Dream & Do, but like her childhood hustle, she is still looking for ways to create and design new ventures.
According to the 2016 Startup Muster report, 24.9 percent of founders hold on to a job outside of their startup. Tara describes it as the “two year itch,” getting bored and needing a new challenge to bring back the hustle.
Tara runs her creative agency throughout the day and side hustles with her new business prospect: Little Succers, a same day delivery succulent business. Tara explains Little Succers is all about the branding, with taglines: ‘Because Flowers Die,’ transforming the regular cactus into a product consumers can engage with in a fun way.
“It’s not an etsy mum and dad succulent box, it’s the brand they love. It shows what a brand can do,” explains Tara.
Little Succers, with the addition of the latest product: Little Pricks, has over 17,000 followers on Instagram and continues to grow. Years prior to starting her own business, Tara used the same side hustle to launch her from the regular nine to five rat race, into startup founder.
With the majority of founders in Australia falling into the age gap of 30-40, Tara also took a while to find her feet.
After graduating from university, Tara took her entrepreneurial spirit to Europe to pursue her career as a designer. Tara admits she was very naive to land in Europe with no clear path. For a while, she followed in the footsteps of her parents and worked in the same hotel in Cyprus as her mum did years before. Months later, Tara travelled to the UK with no money and no job.
“I got to London, had no money, but when you’re young, you’re not scared. I was at the very beginning of my career…I was eager to get started,” Tara recalls.
A chance meeting at a startup event is when Tara met Sarah Curran, former CEO of My Wardrobe. Sarah took an interest in Tara’s eye for branding, but more importantly her drive for business and offered to invest in her. This was the beginning of Tara’s side hustle.
Investing in people, rather than ideas has paid off for numerous investors. In 2007, Drew Houston, founder of Dropbox, met with Michael Moritz, investor at Sequoia Capital, seeking a few hundred thousand dollars in investment. In the following days Drew watched his bank account rise from $60 to $1.2 million. This year, Dropbox announced it had passed $1 billion in annual revenue run rate and has become the poster child for investing in people, not ideas.
Like Michael, Sarah saw the passion in Tara and was eager to help take her ideas off the ground, offering to stock her products and sell them through My Wardrobe.
“By day I had my job and by night I was packing orders. I had good success and won a design award with it,” says Tara.
On returning back to Sydney, with a business up her sleeve, Tara began working on Dream & Do. To date, the company has branded over 100 startups including the multi-million dollar protein powder company Happy Way.
“Brand is important because it makes people connect with products. When consumers buy it’s an extension of who they are. Branding helps startups to identify their personality and creating something unique and memorable, definitely pays off.”