A few months ago, Brisbane entrepreneur and investor, Steve Baxter, made a $70,000 investment in Those Girls, a beverage start-up that produces a range of iced tea-based drinks, on the finale of Network Ten’s Shark Tank.
Co-founders Lauren Davie and Elena Andoniou started the company in 2013 out of a pure passion for unique and delicious beverages and Steve says it’s been a pleasure working alongside them.
“Both ladies are seriously driven and hard-working,” he told Anthill. “Their recent launch into the Sydney market is testament to this. They have a fine product and a great attitude, they are a strong example of the sort of drive needed to be a start-up.”
We caught up with Lauren and Elena to tell us about their back story, what they’ve been up to since Shark Tank and where they are headed. This is what they had to share.
Who are Those Girls and how did you end up working together?
We have been best friends for as long as we can remember, so the decision to go into business together felt really comfortable and natural for us.
We have skill sets that complement each other which made the process a lot easier and helps us to tackle all the hurdles (not to mention we have spent so much time together we can read each other’s minds!).
Elena is a graphic designer by trade and has been working in the design industry for over seven years and Lauren was an operations manager responsible for account management and logistics.
Together, we had most areas covered.
Our biggest weakness in the beginning was that neither of us had ever run a business before and so we both completely lacked “business 101”.
But hey, what fun would the journey be if we already had all the answers?
So, we decided to embrace the challenge and enter the business world head on. We threw ourselves in the deep end and learnt pretty quickly that problem solving would be a huge part of our new roles and that mindset plays a really big part.
Luckily, we are both very ambitious and determined which has helped along the way.
We always knew we weren’t destined for the 9-5 life. We have always been big dreamers and wanted to create something spectacular.
Our light bulb moment happened when we were drinking our home brewed chai lattes (which we did very regularly). They were so incredibly delicious we decided to share the deliciousness with the rest of Melbourne and start selling them.
The only problem was that it was the middle of summer at the time! And although we loved drinking hot teas, we felt others might not feel the same. That’s when our iced tea range was born.
We decided to dedicate ourselves to becoming the beverage queens of Australia. We took to the kitchen and trialled recipe after recipe until we were 100 per cent happy with our concoctions.
It wasn’t easy, we trialled countless flavour combinations and tested hundreds of recipes until we had our favourites. That’s when we officially launched Those Girls into the Melbourne market scene.
Shark Tank was an amazing experience for us. We have got more out of it that we could have ever imagined. Having a brilliant business mind like Steve Baxter involved has really helped us plan a clear future for our brand.
With Steve on board, we are giving the market and pop up scene a facelift. We want to transform the ‘daggy’ market stall that has been around for as long as everyone can remember into a beautiful display of foodie art.
What we are creating is premium service, premium products and a premium look to add to the overall customer experience. Steve’s support and investment in Those Girls has allowed us to create more sites so that we can share the love and expand all across Australia.
We have also really taken to social media to help with our expansion for two main reasons: one, food and beverage is such a visual industry, you really do eat with your eyes and two, social media is so powerful allowing people to choose what they want to share with their friends and family, rather than paid advertising of forceful messages.
It means so much to us when our customers post photos and share their feedback because it’s based on genuine belief and appreciation for our products.
Since Shark Tank, we have spent a substantial amount of time in R&D, expanding our product and service offerings. We now offer both catering packages and a seasonal menu that covers both the summer and winter.
We were overwhelmed with the positive feedback we received from our latest product, our delicious steaming hot apple cider. Melbourne fell in love with our freshly crushed apples which has given us the inspiration to keep developing our products and offer more variety for our customers.
Lastly, we are currently working on an ambassador program to get everybody taking about Those Girls. Networking is key in business, and it really helps to affiliate with other likeminded individuals. We can’t tell you who, but we hope to begin rolling out our program shortly.
What has it been like working with Steve Baxter?
Wow, where do we start? Having Steve on our team is amazing!
Those Girls was less than a year old and we were (extremely) new to the business world when we entered the Shark Tank, and to be honest, we didn’t know what to expect. We just knew we had passion, great products and that we were firm believers in executing our ideas.
When Steve made us an offer, we were absolutely blown away. It was like a dream come true to have this well-established and highly respected business guru and millionaire telling us that he believed in us and wanted to join our team!
The sense of achievement you feel when someone of that stature has faith in you is truly empowering. You feel like maybe, just maybe, you will be able to make it in the business world. That you are destined for something more than ordinary and it’s moments like that need to be enjoyed.
It was at that point that we realised that we weren’t as crazy as we thought and that we really were onto a good thing (as most start-up owners are probably aware, you go through some pretty crazy moments in the early stages!).
Steve is a great mentor. His experience, honesty, insight and quick mind are priceless at seeing warning lights and understanding the consequences a decision may pose further down the track. This is a huge help for us in determining what avenues we want to explore with Those Girls.
He is also an ideas man and great at identifying areas of opportunity that often miss when living and breathing Those Girls everyday.
One of the other great things about Steve is that he comes with a whole team of people and contacts that provide a great support network to be associated with, which has been really comforting for us on our journey.
Great mentors are an integral part in the early stages of business and we are pleased to say that we have been connected to some of the best business minds in Australia and beyond.
What next for Those Girls now?
There are so many exciting projects in the works for Those Girls, but as the very inspirational Marie Forleo says, you need to pick your battle, not battles, and focus your energy on developing consistency. We want every Australian to experience Those Girls beverages, and so we will be focusing on expanding nationwide!