In addition to identifying the right co-founding team, crystallising the vision of your product is critical to its success, Julia Hartz, co-founder and president of Eventbrite, told the Female Founders Forum in Dublin today.
Eventbrite has raised an estimated US$200m in venture capital and last year helped process US$1bn in ticket sales for 1m events in 190 countries worldwide.
Hartz co-founded Eventbrite with her husband Kevin in 2006, along with CTO Renaud Visage.
“We took a leap and I never expected to be here as founder of a company," said Hartz, whose company now employs 300 people, including three new staff members at the company’s first office in the Digital Hub in Dublin.
“We thought originally we could grow Ireland from the UK but we learned that obviously the real truth to establishing roots and understanding local culture is to be in-market. It was the same in Melbourne and in Argentina, and we intend to use the same tactic moving forward."
Three core tiers to growing a company
Hartz said there are three core tiers to growing a company: data (being observational), wisdom (to know what not to do next time), and perspective (understand where others have failed and succeeded).
Hartz said the core to founding a company is to define at least one partner – not just a life partner – but a co-founder with complementary skills to share successes and challenges along the way.
“Also having a third co-founder who was crazy enough to establish a company with a married couple helped."
Kevin and Julia Hartz concentrated on the company in San Francisco, California, while Visage continued to work in his native France.
“We found that all three of us had different skills that we were able to combine and focus on building the most intuitive products and have a deep connection with customers."
In starting a business, Hartz said she believes it is vital that founders endeavour to forge a kind of village of supporters, investors, board members and enthusiasts around them.
“Think about building a diverse village of expertise and perspective."
She also said it is vital to take a chance on people. For example, the former CEO of Ticketmaster Sean Moriarty joined Eventbrite’s board, going against the fledgling company’s initial instincts.
“You need to be brave enough to ask for and receive help."
She said Moriarty brought the charisma and understanding of the business and has emerged as one of the best champions and mentors they could ever have.
Another core discovery along the way, Hartz explained, was crystallising the vision for what Eventbrite’s product was all about.
She said that until they had defined Eventbrite’s purpose as a mechanism for bringing people together, they were doing a huge disservice to the rest of the team.
“If you are anchorless you are lost at sea. You might be swimming, but not going in the right direction in terms of innovation and velocity.
“When we focused on bringing the world together by live experiences, something switched on – a spark was lit internally and people began to identify with the vision."
She said the secret to running a business and growing it from the start-up phase is being willing to learn from experience and acquire wisdom along the way.
“Instead of viewing hindsight as something in the past, look to wisdom and perspective and use hindsight to move forward and make better, informed decisions.
“Learning something new every day is the most gratifying aspect of being a founder," Hartz said.
Watch highlights of Julia Hartz’s keynote address here:
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