Interview with Kevin Hartz, Eventbrite CEO & Co-Founder
Contributing Writer: Rashon A. Massey
As another year comes to an end, most of us will find a moment of personal time to rewind the 2010 VHS and reflect on the past 365 days; however, if you’re circulating within the same innovative operating space as Kevin Hartz, Co-Founder & CEO of Eventbrite, the time for reflecting has past, and you’re already working towards the new beginnings of tomorrow.
The timeliness of success is a pulse Kevin has become all too familiar with. An Oxford and Stanford graduate, Hartz began his career as a product manager before collaborating on the business start-up, ConnectGroup. He Co-Founded Xoom Corporation and remains active on the Board of Directors, and today, Kevin still finds time to be an early stage investor and advisor for budding projects, with notable backings behind Friendster, PayPal, Lookout, iControl, TripIt and several others.
In an age where Ticketmasterzilla and Live Nation reign as industry chiefs of ticketing and promotion, Hartz decided to break ground with Eventbrite in 2006. As a brand and service with a core ‘mission to make events as easy to create, find and attend as possible’, Eventbrite seized an opportunity to provide a solution that would combine the viral power of social networking with event management. A democratized ticketing service free for use by events with no-cost admission, early adopters of Eventbrite were DJs and clubs, music-based gatherings attended by the Facebook generation.
“The journey has been hard work. We’ve had to stay humble, keeping our heads down and learning,” expressed Hartz during a morning Skype chat. After launching without any capitol, the team found themselves raising $100 million for the company and sacrificing earnings during the first couple years.
“We always wanted to make a simple solution that our parents could use,” shared Hartz. “Today, people are using us for ticketing solutions to everything from marathons and live music to poetry. I am seeing events from car rallies to learning how to pickle vegetables.” For functions with paid admission, the company has a team ready to assist with organizational details including registration and selling tickets, while the hosting party maintains control of the promotion and overall execution of their event; moreover, even in these areas, Eventbrite has and continues to produce useful tools to aid in event marketing needs.
“This year we reached $200 million in tickets and grew to a staff of 93 employees,” said a visibly proud Hartz. “We have about 6 million visitors to the site each month. This year, twenty percent of tickets sold were outside of the U.S., which is a big deal to our small San Francisco base.”
Preparing for tomorrow today, Eventbrite is continuing to develop the levels of engagement and interactivity through the Facebook channel. Incorporating functionality that would allow Eventbrite to further connect with status updates is something to anticipate for the future, along with entry management for events.
“We are looking to improve the user and fan experience, especially with our work in the music industry. Right now, we are focusing on social integration to understand how to use fans to promote through social media which inevitably push tickets sales,” said Hartz.
Beyond the forecast of Eventbrite, being a Silicon Valley brainchild allows Kevin to keep his hands, vision and energy flowing through or around the next big movements in technology and innovation. When discussing the coming plans for Eventbrite, I seized the chance to inquire about general advice Kevin would pass to young entrepreneurs, and what would be the emerging companies and/or focused directions to rise in this new decade.
“Always work with people smarter than you,” were the words Hartz delivered that spoke to the advice for young businesses. “As far as the next thing, I am serving on the Board of Lookout, a mobile security company for Android. Future trends and opportunities? I would say location-based services and furthering video on the internet. YouTube grew out of broadband and the pervasiveness of flash, for example. Now we are seeing location based services such as foursquare and gowalla driven by smartphone and gps chipset adoption. ”
Whether managing operations at Eventbrite or developing several of his mentoring relationships, Kevin Hartz is consistently learning and growing while teaching a new generation that is bursting with ideas and promise. As a collective whole, every venture taken won’t necessarily mean profound success, but each new beginning opens the door towards making improvements from the past; moreover, with Kevin Hartz’s track record, we can be sure that at this stage in his game, each day is merely a fresh start to redefine and establish grounds to build stronger pillars of success.