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How a university student took $200 and created a $1.7 million business in just one year

“Get comfortable with the uncomfortable, and just get started!”

Ana Gavia was already flat-out busy when she was studying for a Master’s degree in Podiatric Medicine at Melbourne’s La Trobe University, but that didn’t stop her from starting her own company. Sacrificing everything – including sleep and a social life – Ana’s grind paid dividends and she has now put her studies on hold to scale her business further. Having recently launched in the United States, Ana has plans to go global, and is very happy that she has a Rare Birds mentor on hand to help her navigate this new terrain. Ana was one of 20 American Express cardholders to receive 12 months of mentoring with Rare Birds as part of Amex’s recent Idea Exchange program. She talks to us about her bikini brand Pinkcolada and her goals going forward.
What advice would you give to someone thinking about starting a business?
My number one advice for someone who wants to start a business is to stop waiting until you feel ready and comfortable enough to start. You will never be ready, and entrepreneurship is uncomfortable. So, get comfortable with the uncomfortable, and just get started! I believe that the best way to learn is from your own direct experiences. You can go out and read books, do courses, or even watch YouTube videos nowadays, etc – however, execution is key! Mainly, I think you just need to get started, take chances, make mistakes and enjoy the learning experience. 
I’m transparent in letting people know about the sacrifices of entrepreneurship and the hard work that’s required through my own personal experience. Entrepreneurship is a very tough journey to embark on and I think the term is used very lightly across my generation, particularly with social media heavily glamourising entrepreneurship. So, I think it’s important that anyone who is wanting to pursue a business full time also considers this side of the business.  
What has been the hardest lesson so far?
The hardest lesson for me thus far has been learning to delegate. At the beginning of my journey, I was doing everything myself or “wearing all the hats”. Over time I learned to let go, put systems in place and delegated tasks, which freed up my time and helped scale my business. 
What is your recipe for success?
My recipe is hard work and persistence! I believe you have to be prepared for the sacrifices, be completely fixated on your vision, and unbalanced in every way for a period of your life to get ahead and reach success.
What is the secret to an effective social marketing campaign?
There’s no secret. Every business is different and therefore different types of marketing campaigns will work for different business types. I would say testing is the main secret. You need to test what works, what doesn’t work for your business, and make changes accordingly. 
What are your plans to grow the business?
Right now, Pinkcolada is rapidly growing and we’ve just launched in the US. We hope to become an international brand. 
Who has been your greatest source of inspiration? How have you applied their wisdom?
My biggest inspiration has been my parents. They worked very hard so that I could have a bright future. I left my hometown when I was 15 and although I decided to venture on a different path, I now know it was worth it and my mother, who has passed away, would be very proud. 
This might be a cliché, but another one of my main inspirations is Elon Musk because of his ability to think big, independently, his dedication, and his ability to sacrifice. 
What do you hope to achieve from your year with a Rare Birds Mentor?
I hope to gain even more knowledge that will help to grow my business, connect with like minds, and possibly give back through mentorship to aspiring entrepreneurs. 
You can read more about the Inspiring Rare Birds Mentoring Program here.