By Sidney Ochieng
Recently for our Fireside chat we got to host Renaud Visage the co-founder and CTO of Eventbrite. Eventbrite is an online ticketing service that allows event organizers to plan, set up ticket sales and promote events (i.e. event management) and publish them across Facebook, Twitter and other social-networking tools directly from the site's interface. It also enables attendees to find and purchase tickets to these events.
Founded in 2006 by CEO Kevin Hartz, President Julia Hartz and CTO Renaud Visage, Eventbrite is headquartered in San Francisco, CA.
The talk lasted just about an hour and was really insightful. It covered everything from finding and picking the right co-founders, marketing and expansion decisions such as handling growth, raising funding and even covered merging and acquisition opportunities and risks.
These are the key things I took away from the talk.
First of all it’s important to work at validating your model and building the minimum viable product that would satisfy most of your users. The first 2 years of Eventbrite’s life the entire team consisted of just the 3 founders as they tried to prove that they had a great idea and built it out. They avoided taking funding as they wanted to be in the very best position to raise money, to raise it on their terms and not before.
Raising money gets easier and easier as you prove your model. During Renaud’s talk he mentioned that they’ve raised over 200 million dollars so far. They were only able to do this because they’ve proven that there’s a demand for their product. They’ve also gotten really good at projecting their future revenue, I think for the next 5 years. They aren’t profitable but that’s only because they chose to expand rapidly into various markets trying to grow as fast as possible.
On the issue of founders he stressed the need to let people do what they’re good at and to trust them. As the engineering guy of the start-up he relied on his co-founders, especially in the beginning, to make the business, branding and marketing decisions. They had clear areas of responsibility and though they all spent time brainstorming ideas and helping each other out there was ultimately someone who had the final say in each area which was important to ensure that they were able to move forward fast. Knowing your strengths and weakness and also knowing how you fit within an organization and growing organically with it to ensure that your skills are always put to the best use.
Think platform first.
Eventbrite has an open API and this has enabled them to build a developer community that is ten thousand strong. These developers expand the capabilities of the main Eventbrite platform expanding it in areas that the company doesn’t want to or want to go in right now, creating a vibrant ecosystem that caters for the needs of it’s users.
Finally don’t ignore the mobile web. After fixing what he called the terrible experience on mobile phones they’ve found that they’re getting 10 time more engagement through their mobile interface and it’s is currently their fastest growing means of interaction. They do of course have apps for the two major platforms Android and iOS but the engagement over the mobile web is projected to dwarf both of them.
There's a lot more that was discussed that offers valuable lessons for start-ups and people trying to expand into other areas. You can find the entirety of the talk on our YouTube channel.