An Interview with Eventbrite founder Julia Hartz
Julia Hartz and her husband Kevin are the founders of the online ticketing platform Eventbrite. The success of the site has propelled Julia into the ranks of successful women in tech and successful business women in tech and made her a role model for entrepreneurs who want to start an online business.
Image courtesy Julia Hartz
Julia Hartz agreed to answer a few questions for BlogHer. Here's our email conversation.
Let's begin with the early days when you were just getting started. How did you come up with the idea for Eventbrite?
Kevin and I saw an opportunity to develop sophisticated technology to help democratize an industry that was previously inaccessible to most people, and devoid of technology. Before Eventbrite, organizers of small- and mid-sized events had to rely on disparate tools: email for promotion, cash and checks for payments, and printed guest lists for check-in. We wanted to connect the world through the live experience, which is universal and powerful. So we set out to create innovative technology that is so easy to use – and so flexible and pliable – that it really can be used by anyone who wants to get people together.
Once you were sure that you wanted to launch your new business, what were the early stage steps?
We went "heads down" on creating a powerful, easy-to-use, delightful product. From the beginning, we spend time with our customers – listening to them, understanding them, and making them a part of our creation. For the first two years, when we laid the foundation of what Eventbrite is today, we remained hyper-focused on the customer and the product. During those years, we bootstrapped the company with our own funds so we could focus on the things that mattered to us.
For a young entrepreneur who wanted to learn from your experience, what advice would you give for getting started with a new tech venture?
First and foremost, find the right partner: a strong co-founding team is essential to building the right foundation. With your partner at your side, assess the opportunity and market potential with as many people as possible. Really hear their feedback and synthesize the data to help you make the right decisions. As you solidify your vision in the beginning, stay hyper-focused on a the fewest, most crucial elements of your offering as possible.
What can you tell the readers about growing your business? Any tips on expanding, hiring great people, staying true to your vision, or other advice?
A strong culture is essential during a period of growth. Culture and "people" are at the center of everything I do at Eventbrite – it's my mission and focus. It helps us with recruiting, performance, and retention. One of the most important things I've learned through this focus is that culture doesn't come from me or Kevin – it has to come from the whole team, and the community of customers we serve. It comes from establishing clear brand values and having them not only influence what we build but how we approach building it as a team. As the team has grown, I have focused on empowering and enabling the Britelings to take ownership of the culture and make this the company they want it to be.
What are your lessons learned?
- Find the right partner, with a complimentary skill set, and then divide & conquer.
- Make sure you have a strong founding principle and stick to it. Mine is "basic human decency."
- Walk the walk: model to your team what you find most important in the way you think, behave, and make decisions.
Is there anything I haven't asked about that you'd like BlogHer readers to know?
Finding the right mentors is another essential part of the process. Early on, Kevin and I had the opportunity to meet Sean Moriarty (the former CEO of Ticketmaster), and it was immediately clear that we could learn a lot from him. We really wanted to have him as a mentor, and we pursued him with unabashed focus. Now, he sits on our Board, works from the Eventbrite office, and serves as an advisor not only to me and Kevin, but to so many of the Britelings.
A big thank you to Julia Hartz for sharing her experience and wisdom with BlogHer readers.