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Eventbrite: Seven tips for startup success

The atmosphere was absolutely electric as the founders of Eventbrite took to the stage at Startup Grind’s latest entrepreneur event on the 18 June 2014 at Google's London HQ,

Eventbrite is an online ticketing service that enables event organisers to plan, set up ticket sales, promote events and publish these events across a variety of social media networks such as Facebook and Twitter and in September 2013 just seven years after its inception reached $2 billion (£1.17 billion) in ticket sales.

The company was founded by its CEO Kevin Hartz, its President Julia Hartz and CTO Renaud Visage who came to this event to share their insights on what made their company so successful. Here's seven of those tips:

Tip One: Three is the magic number

This first tip may seem slightly off the wall but one key success tip for Eventbrite was to have three key people to setup the business.

Julia and Kevin say they each played a different key role in creating Eventbrite. Without one of them, Eventbrite simply wouldn't exist. Julia spoke to potential users to get feedback and understand what it was they needed from a ticket selling platform.

She fed this information back to Kevin who then used it to create the product. Kevin then fed this information to Renaud who built the product (aka coded the website).

The E-Myth by Michael E. Gerber also has something to say about the power of three, when he talks about how businesses suffer if they miss any one of the following people - the technician, the entrepreneur, or the manager.

It is interesting to note that there are many parallel illustrations in spiritual texts such as the Bible, where the various versions state in Ecclesiastes 4:12 “A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.”

Some interpretations go on to say that two people are great for defence but if you really want to move forward and overcome have three key people in your executive team. The point is that three complimentary people in your executive team can propel your company forward faster than two (strong defensive) or one person (easily attacked).

Tip 2: Be self-sufficient for as long as possible

Kevin advised start-ups to use their own funds for as long as possible. Although this is not helpful from a cashflow perspective, Kevin explained that if you work your plan until you have no option but to seek further investment you will have impressed investors because first, if investors see how much you have invested of your own money they will view you as a more credible business. Second, it shows investors that you have faith in your business so if you have faith in your business it is likely investors will too.

To help reduce cashflow problems, Kevin strongly advised that, for as long as possible, you keep your nine to five job and work on your business in the evening to maintain an income stream.

Tip 3: Plant seeds and make investors come to you

Julia opened up to the audience about their initial rejections when pitching for investment. One trick, Julia shared with us is to leave your business plan with the investors even though they have rejected your business proposal.

What happened was that a year later, when the Eventbrite team revisited the investment community they had achieved what they had outline in their business plan.

This achievement provided a powerful demonstration to the investors that the Eventbrite team were reliable and resilient to rejection. This one trick significantly boosted the Eventbrite credibility to the point where investors began to approach them.

Tip 4: Have backup plan D in place

Building on Tips 2 and 3, Kevin emphasised that businesses should NOT rely on venture capital. As he shared in tip two, get as far as you can on your own. Once you begin showing results, investors will come to you.

Now in order to get as far as possible on your own to achieve the results of your business plan, Kevin shared that if you want to have a strong business, have a plan A, plan B, plan C and plan D.

In business, it is very rare for things to go to plan, factors outside your control often cause your initial plan to be altered. By having several backup plans you minimise the business risk which helps reduce stress levels and potential losses if and when things don’t go to plan.

Tip 5: Learn the business identity before hiring

One interesting tip that Julia and Kevin shared, is that we should not hire staff until we truly need to. By that time the Eventbrite business had a personality, they knew what sort of people would fit into the culture.

Having this understanding of the business’s identity made filtering through candidates to find the people who would help take the business to the next level made hiring and finding the right people much easier.

Tip 6: Be good to your staff

Building on tip five, Julia elaborated a little more on hiring and encouraging staff and operating within the business. One fundamental component in running a successful business is the way in which you treat your staff.

Julia enthused that the Eventbrite number one rule is to put staff in front of the business, and put business in front of ourselves. In other words put your staff’s well-being before the business, and the business’s well-being before the owner’s.

So often we see senior executives going on holiday before or during major projects and are dismayed when the project’s fail, by putting the Eventbrite major business projects before the executive teams’ own personal holiday requirements has helped to ensure the smoothness of many of Eventbrite’s major projects.

Tip 7: Always be open to learning

All the founders said another key to success is to never stop learning. Eventbrite has gone on from strength to strength because they are open to learning from their customers, their staff, suppliers and one another.

Sometimes we have to put our egos aside in order to learn how we can bets move a project or business forward.

Many businesses lose marketshare and competitiveness when they feel they know the business inside out and cannot grow any further.

These are my top seven tip’s from the Eventbrite founders, the full interview will be posted in the video section of Startup Grind's website.