Q&A with Eventbrite co-founder and president Julia Hartz

By Editor March 3, 2011

Eventbrite logo 

Eventbrite is an online event planning and ticketing service. The San Francisco-based company was founded in 2006.

SUB: How many tickets have been sold through Eventbrite to this point?

Hartz: We’ve sold over 22.5m tickets.

SUB: What is the story behind the Eventbrite idea? Was there an “aha” moment of inspiration behind the company?

Hartz: We fundamentally believe in the power of the "Live Experience" – we love the notion of bringing people together around shared passions, pursuits and interests. We saw an opportunity to gather people offline through an online service. For example, we’re all familiar with the seismic shift in music. The Internet commoditized recorded music, but the live concert industry is thriving. That is because you can’t simply copy or duplicate the experience of a gathering. This is a universal truth across all events, whether music, art, education, sports, festivals, or conferences. Eventbrite plays a key role in facilitating this.

The need for transformation and change in ticketing – Ticketing hasn’t changed very much or kept pace with the innovation we see around us in commerce, social media, data analysis, and service. We strive to bring this Silicon Valley “magic” to a broken and fragmented industry. In addition, Eventbrite is much broader than the merely ticketing. We support an enormous community of organizers—some full time at it and some part time—who make money from their interest and expertise. In the same way that eBay, Airbnb or Etsy do, Eventbrite makes it easy for people to turn a passion into profit.

SUB: What is your business model? How do you make money?

Hartz: Eventbrite is completely free to use for free events. If an event host isn’t charging for ticket sales, we’re not charging them—and they get the full functionality of the product. For events that do charge a ticket price, we charge a small percentage of the cost of the ticket, plus a $.99 per-ticket fee.

SUB: Who do you see as your primary competition?

Hartz: We feel that Eventbrite is the only solution catering to such a wide variety of events—we are working with hosts who manage events of all sizes and types. It’s a really flexible tool.

SUB: What differentiates Eventbrite from the competition?

Hartz: Attending events is an inherently social thing, so people want their friends to join them. Eventbrite makes it really easy for people to share ticket purchases across multiple social media networks, so that attendees can get their friends to join them. This also means that event hosts enjoy organic, viral promotion through their attendees’ shares. The other thing that makes us stand out is the way in which we build data collection into the ticketing process. If it’s important for an event host to collect information from his or her attendees, we make it easy to do so. We also offer hosts customizable tracking links that help them better understand the ways in which their attendees learned about the event.

SUB: How much outside funding have you raised to this point?

Hartz: We have the funding support of Sequoia Capital, Tenaya Capital and DAG Ventures.

SUB: Where do you see Eventbrite in roughly a year from now?

Hartz: In a year, we will have doubled headcount from 100 to 200 Britelings. We’ll be enjoying our brand-new office in SOMA, and we’ll be ticketing larger and more complex events.

SUB: Finally, a question I always ask: as an entrepreneur who has weathered the down economy and built a growing business, what advice do you have for those just starting out—especially in an economy that remains less than dynamic?

Hartz: Find a large, underserved market and build something people want. Often times it doesn’t take a huge amount of capital to get started, especially with the open source resources and platforms out there today. The best, most innovative products are born out of leaner times – use this to your advantage.

Eventbrite – www.eventbrite.com