Like many others, Eventbrite’s story started with an encounter: that of Renaud Visage, with Kevin and Julia Hartz, in San Francisco in 2006. What followed is totally extraordinary. At the time, many on-line ticketing platforms existed for major gatherings such as sporting events and concerts. However, there was no service to create, organise and manage more intimate events. That is how Eventbrite came about.
Leveraging this opportunity, the three co-founders developed their product, mainly used for tech events in San Francisco’s Bay Area. The service was simple and free of charge. Its rise was meteoric. “One of the keys to our success is the virality of our product. Each event organiser brings users to the platform. These users then create their events. Almost one third of event organisers on Eventbrite are former participants”.
Eventbrite joins the Unicorn Club
In 2008, the time came for the first venture round: $1.5M. The rounds then continued at a dizzying pace – $6,5M in 2009, $20M in 2010, $50M in 2011, $60M in 2013 – until in 2014, the start-up completed a round at $60M, which valued the company at over one billion dollars, thus ensuring its entry into the prestigious “Unicorn Club”. The total amount of the successive venture rounds represents the impressive figure of $200M. When asked by an entrepreneur why they didn’t raise a higher amount earlier on, Renaud Visage advised: “be careful not to be too greedy at the start. If you raise a lot of money, it makes it very difficult to justify your value at a later date”.
While the trio held out for two years, they started to hire in 2008. Eventbrite now has 550 employees and offices in eight countries. “You are bound to lose some of the spirit of camaraderie when you jump from 3 to 550 employees, but we maintain an excellent atmosphere in the teams. It’s very important to us. A company’s culture comes first and foremost from its employees. Select them carefully,” he advised NUMA’s start-ups.
Eventbrite also knows how to pick its support. Its Board of Directors includes Sean Moriarty, former CEO of TicketMaster, and Lorrie Norrington, former Chairperson of eBay Marketplaces. “Their experience is a significant asset”.
Renaud Visage insisted on the platform going global as of 2011. He was the main driving force behind this. With his persuasion skills, he started to install Eventbrite on the European market in 2009. “First, focus on your product. Perfect it. Then go global as soon as possible.” The multilingual website was created in 2011. A key moment, according to its co-founder. The start-up then had offices in eight countries (USA, Argentina, Brazil, Germany, Australia, Ireland, the United Kingdom and Holland). Through this platform, events were organised in 187 countries!
Ten years on from the start of this venture, Eventbrite has sold more than 200 million tickets on-line, the equivalent of $5 billion in ticketing sales. “I don’t suppose you need the money anymore… Why do you carry on?” asked an entrepreneur. “Why did we create Eventbrite? I like to think that we help people to get together. We facilitate meetings. I created this company out of passion. I still have that passion ten years on”.
Our warmest thanks to Renaud Visage for coming to advise the start-ups on NUMA’s acceleration programme. We wish them all similar successes!
For ultra-fast development, think of a product that is intrinsically viral.
Do not raise too much money at the outset. It would be subsequently difficult to justify the company’s value.
Pay special attention when hiring your first employees. They are the pillars of your corporate culture.
Think about global expansion from the outset.
A few key dates and figures:
Date of creation: 2006
Co-founders: Kevin Hartz, Julia Hartz and Renaud Visage
Total amount of venture rounds: $190M
Tickets sold: 200 million