“You have to SEE it to be able to BE it” – words of Julia Hartz, co-founder of start-up success Eventbrite.com yesterday in answer to the question of what her opinion was on gender balance in technology and startups. Julia and her husband Kevin Hartz started Eventbrite back in 2006 and visited Australia for the first time. Hub Sydney co-working space organised the event and I’d like to share some of the takeaways with you.
The Eventbrite Vision is to bring the world together through live experiences, and Mission is to efficiently build a global market place that people love.
In 2006, Eventbrite founders Kevin, Julia and their developer decided to boostrap the company and invested only their resources and time during the first few years. Julia recalls those early years spent with putting the MVP out there quickly, talking to customers, learning and constantly improving the product based on customer feedback. Julia believes that part of their amazing success has been the fact that “Both Kevin & I are the type of people who don’t mind doing the hard work“.
THE GROWTH PHASE AND BUILDING A COMPANY
2009 marks the year when they raised the first round of investment. Their team of initially 3 then 15, then 30 jumped up to 100 within a year. “30 is a team, 100 is a company. It was a very challenging time” – remembers the couple. While Kevin was busy with product development, Julia took over the team and company building task, and managed to build one of the US’s best company cultures as voted by employees.
INTUITION IN BUSINESS
At this point in the conversation, a very interesting thing happened, that I thought it’s worth a mention. Julia said “I was happy to had built a company culture that people loved, but I was concerned that it may had a negative impact on performance. I had a nightmare and it was a great wakeup call for me that led me to make a few changes immediately and set the right expectations“. I don’t think that I have ever met a guy or heard a talk where a man would share a similar story. It is always interesting for me to hear when women make certain business decisions based on their intuitions, listening to their hearts and not only to the numbers and facts.
International expansion has not been easy for Eventbrite given that the platform is used by a 2 sided market place (event organisers & attendees) The site is currently being used in over 180 countries, used for organising paid event in around 150. The founders make money by taking a cut from sold tickets, so it is crucial to have paid events listed. Currently, 2/3 of the events are non paid, but the conversion rate from non-paying to paying customers is high. Most people learn about Eventbrite by attending a free event, and then use the platform to organise their own paid events, therefore accommodating for both free and paid events proved to be a great strategy for the business. International usage initially came organically, given that it is an open, self service platform with having PayPal integrated, it was meant to cater for the global market from the very beginning.
Although Eventbrite has never done any marketing activity in Australia, the platform has been extensively used and favoured by event organisers, in fact, over $40 Million worth of tickets have been already sold down under. The founders now seeking opportunities and considering the possibility of even opening an office in Australia in the near future. As Kevin said “Australia is like Ireland, a great market to test some ideas before implementing them globally. It’s got high density in small areas, cities which is fantastic to organise live events.
I think it was fantastic to have the actual founders of a successful Silicon Valley startup answering all sorts of questions honestly and openly. Thank you Julia and Kevin for that and we really hope that Eventbrite office will open in Australia soon.