Dec 4, 2018 Pauliina Alanen
Julia started off by looking back into the history of her company. Their story started in 2006 when she said her “completely unrelated career in the TV industry got hijacked” by her future husband Kevin Hartz. The couple got together with their third co-founder Renaud Visage, and set out to solve the event industry with technology.
The culture at Eventbrite has always been something the company has talked about a lot. According to Julia, Eventbrite culture has always been inclusive and they’ve worked hard to keep it that way. Indeed, while some companies are struggling to get one female to their board, Eventbrite just recently announced yet another female board member, adding the Global Brand President of Clinique, Jane Lauder to its Board of Directors. On the Founder Stage today, Julia also mentioned her as one of her sources of inspiration. Thanks to this new appointment, Eventbrite board is equally split between men and women.
When asked whether you are born to become an entrepreneur, Julia shook her head and gave a lot of credit for her entrepreneurship career to her husband Kevin Hartz. She also mentioned that seeing her husband as an investor has helped her a lot. “The best entrepreneurs are really comfortable with failure, but you can also learn that just through doing things”’, Julia said, reflecting on her own journey of nearly 13 years operating at Eventbrite. “I wasn’t born for this, but I grew for it. I think entrepreneurs don’t have the chip “this might not work”. Along the way, I certainly found my passion, although as a kid I was really just doing what I was told.” Julia said.
Julia puts a lot of emphasis on staying very focused. She admitted, that she didn’t know anything about ticketing when she started the company. “Our ‘why’ at Eventbrite has been clear from day 1: we want to create live experiences. In the early days that meant asking ourselves if we were actually going to build something that people will use.” According to Julia, their early adopters where tech meetup organizers, which was great for the company as that gave a lot of feedback. Julia said she will never forget when a new group of users, speed dating organisers in NYC, started to use the platform. It was then that she understood that they might be onto something.
Eventbrite’s platform is created in a modular way. According to Julia, there is still a lot of potential for Eventbrite to expand into different categories and locations. She explained that the product needs to be modular enough, so that it fits into different categories. By being the enablement platform for creators Eventbrite can serve the middle-market of events the best.
With 9 acquisitions and 12 years of existence, Eventbrite culture has been through a lot. On the Founder Stage, Julia highlighted the importance of empathy when bringing in people from different organizational backgrounds and cultures. Julia said Eventbrite has worked a lot to build a flexible culture that has been able to accommodate new people as they have joined. For Julia, retaining talent depends on making sure employees move forward within the company and get to new challenges. The people need new tasks into which they can grow and find out the best fit for them.
Finally, Stebbings asked Julia about the recent Eventbrite IPO, on September 20, 2018 to be precise. On that day, the shares opened at $36 and climbed as high as $39.30 before ending at $36.50. Julia told that when they decided to go public, people warned that going public can be really extractive of the time. She wanted to make sure that Eventbrite would extract serious value for the company. Within the business section of the documents that the company had to prepare for the IPO, they worked hard to simplify who they are serving and what is the core purpose. “In a startup, you don’t often get to take a step back and really look into your purpose and write it down. Going public was an incredibly tedious process, but eventually worth it” Julia added.
Secret to the successful CEO transfer (when the former CEO is your husband)? Communicate a lot.
Secret to success of the startup? Being on a monorail journey, where conviction is the only thing that keeps everything going. Staying super focused. This is underrated in my opinion, you need to have a singular focus.
The future for Eventbrite? in 5 years Eventbrite is powering more live experiences than are even happening today.
Since Eventbrite launched its operations in 2006, the company has generated more than $10 billion in gross ticket sales. In 12 years, Eventbrite has grown into a global company of 1,000 employees, “Britelings” by the company jargon. The company currently has offices in 11 countries, including the UK, Germany, Australia and Brazil among others.
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