Over the course of a couple of weeks in March, Kevin Hartz watched as events around the world were cancelled. Eventbrite, a global self-service ticketing and experience technology platform co-founded by Kevin Hartz, Julia Hartz and Renaud Visage, always aimed to “bring people together in real life”. So when sports, theatre, festivals, and almost all other events were banned around the world, Kevin and his team were left in a puzzling situation.
It’s a situation that startup founders will know all too well, living hand to mouth, with funding cut off and resources rapidly depleting. But for Kevin, something about these adverse circumstances played to his strengths. “Ingenuity comes out of scarce resources,” Kevin reflects, in his myfirstminute webinar hosted by venture capital firm firstminute capital.
This attitude has led Kevin to found two unicorn startups—first Xoom, an international money transfer service, and then Eventbrite. It’s also laid the foundations for his many successful investments in Silicon Valley success stories, from PayPal to Airbnb, to Pinterest.
So what is the secret to Kevin’s successes?
Early successes and founding Eventbrite. Kevin is one of many success stories of the dotcom bubble in the late 90s and early 00s. He co-founded and sold ConnectGroup, which provided high-speed internet to hotel chains. With the profits, he founded Xoom, and invested in a little-known startup called FieldLink, which would eventually grow into PayPal: the same PayPal who, ten years later, would buy Xoom for just over $1B.
He then launched Eventbrite in 2006 alongside co-founders Julia Hartz and Renaud Visage. Eventbrite at the time was one of the first major players in the event and ticketing market. The principles of the company came from something very simple.
“I think there’s something about belonging, that gathering together, which is incredibly important to humans,” Kevin says.
The company garnered interest and investment from some of the biggest venture capital firms, including Sequoia Capital, which successfully grew the company up to its initial public offering (IPO) in September 2018.
There are two key elements that Kevin highlights in the success of Eventbrite.
First, the team. “I think the push and pull of some of the most brilliant companies is that complementary aspect of founders.”
Julia Hartz, Eventbrite CEO, hails from a background in broadcasting at MTV and has subsequently featured twice on Forbes 40 Under 40, as well as among Fortune’s most powerful female entrepreneurs. Renaud Visage, co-founder and entrepreneur-in-residence, has applied his engineering background to developing the site and app into the user experience it is today.
Secondly, the community. Kevin credits the amazing community of event organisers, planners, and attendants for making Eventbrite a success. This has particularly shown it’s worth during the current COVID-19 pandemic when typical events have been made impossible. Lockdown, Kevin believes, has triggered a great amount of creativity in its responses.
There’s a Manhattan-based cheese company, who Instead of packing up shop, have posted packages of cheese to users, running online cheese tasting sessions.
Or there’s Daybreaker, a morning dance and physical fitness event, ordinarily based at sites around the world. Having moved online, it’s become a global phenomenon.
“It’s quite exciting to see creators in their ingenuity.”