side hustle stars winners edition announcement

While “side hustle” may seem like a trendy term, it’s actually part of the true entrepreneurial spirit found in many HostGator customers. Are all entrepreneurs side hustlers? Maybe, to some extent. But, a “side hustle” is a venture someone creates in addition to their primary income source, with the intent to gain money, credibility, community, or even a career. 

We know that many HostGator customers started a website with the side hustle spirit in mind… They needed an outlet for “something else” in their life. They saw a need and wanted to help. They had creative juices that weren’t flowing at their “day job.” They wanted a little extra money on the side. 

Whatever the reason for creating a side hustle, we know the hustle and grind can be tough. After all, HostGator was started as a side hustle by a college student with big dreams. For that reason, HostGator applauds the customers who work long hours outside of their day job with a side hustle dream. 

So HostGator created the Side Hustle Stars Awards to rally the troops, share stories like the old days around a campfire, and encourage the stars to keep hustling. 

For added encouragement and high fives, the first 100 verified entries receive a Side Hustle Fuel Kit that includes a Starbucks* gift card, Yeti* tumbler travel mug, and a mascot Snappy stress ball. 

Fuel Kit sent to first 100 qualified entries. Now that’s good swag!


And the Side Hustlers showed up to impress. From, CBD products to skateboard photographers, there were more than 300 verified entries, with the most popular side hustle category being products and physical goods.

We evaluated the entries by their side hustle stories and their websites against factors such as navigation, design, and web standards like SSL certificates and mobile responsiveness. In the end, one theme emerged. Despite spending extra hours working on their side hustles beyond the traditional 9-to-5, more than half (56%) of the applicants shared words of encouragement like “never give up” or “keep going” to other side hustlers. 

The Side Hustle Stars Winners

HostGator is pleased to announce the following winners of the 2019 Side Hustle Stars competition:

  • 1st place – SACFruits, a premium dried fruit snack sold in the US and Africa that supports fruit farmers in Nigeria.
  • 2nd place – Xcelencia, an independent, Latin urban recording artist and music producer innovating outside the traditional music industry. 
  • 3rd place – Souly Rested, is a blog based on life on a 219-year-old farm in rural New England including tutorials on tapping maple trees and cooking with maple.  

More about the winners

1st Place – SACFruits, Afie Braimoh

1st place winner of Side Hustle Stars competition

SACFruits is a 100% natural, premium dried fruit snack sold in the US and Africa that supports fruit farmers in Nigeria. Afie Braimoh created SACfruits because she saw a need. She noticed that many of the farmers in Nigeria were living in poverty. Despite having an abundance of fruit, the poor road conditions limited access to cities and distribution centers. As a result, their fruit would rot along with their profits. 

Afie’s solution started simply, with a dehydrator in her kitchen. SACfruits has come a long way since Afie started her side hustle and founded the company in 2012. Now SACfruits has FDA approval and is sold in Nigeria and the US, including online with Amazon. 

Afie knows the true, and often solitary, work involved with a side hustle. She is still the sole employee of the company and works with one distributor who believes in her product. Yet still, Afie shares encouraging advice for other side hustlers. 

“Stick with your side hustle. It is hard work,” says Afie. “But if you are passionate about your product or service, you believe in yourself, and run your race (and nobody else’s), success is only a matter of time.”

2nd Place – Xcelencia, Calixto Gabriel Bravo

2nd place winner of Side Hustle Stars competition

Xcelencia is an independent, Latin urban recording artist and music producer. Born Calixto Gabriel Bravo in 1991, Xcelencia works hard to push the boundaries beyond any single genre. As an independent artist, lack of funding is a challenge, but personal motivation and a passion for music is what propels Xcelencia to accomplish his dreams. 

As the music industry continues to evolve, Xcelencia sees the value in collaboration to accelerate growth, which demonstrates his hustle spirit. 

“It’s important to remain within the box to conform to the average consumer. However, playing outside of the box allows you to innovate and find new gaps and strategies to overcome your obstacles,” says Xcelencia. “Practice patience along with self-awareness, and you will begin to understand where to continuously improve and develop.”

3rd Place – Souly Rested, Michelle Visser

3rd place winner of Side Hustle Stars competition

Michelle Visser and her family moved to a 219-year-old farm in rural New England and discovered the farm was home to sugar maple trees waiting to be tapped. Michelle started the Souly Rested blog to catalog her journey learning how to make and bake with maple syrup. As her blog posts gained popularity, Michelle decided to use her platform to self-publish a book for extra income. 

But, as the hustle spirit sometimes catches a “big break,” Michelle’s book was bought by a publisher instead and is set to be in bookstores Fall 2019. 

From not knowing how to tap a tree, to selling maple syrup and publishing books, Michelle’s hustle has established her as a maple expert and a published author with more all-natural sugar products and a new book on the way. Way to go, Michelle! 

Coming Soon 

Stay tuned for more from these winners, as we plan to do a detailed feature on each. Also, coming soon, we’ll share stories and entrepreneurial tips from many of our entrants. 

We’re so proud of the spirit of all the Side Hustlers who entered and what they have  accomplished with their HostGator websites. There are so many stories we can’t wait to share.

*Note: The contest is not affiliated with Starbucks or Yeti.