Kevin Hartz (Eventbrite): We Enable More Events By Creating A Friction-Free Experience

April 26, 2012

in Interview

Kevin Hartz, co-founder and CEO of Eventbrite, an online ticketing company, is on a mission to disrupt the ticketing industry by reducing the friction involved in organizing and attending an event. In this interview he shares some insights on what a great event should be and how they are helping event managers to organize and promote their events.

This post is sponsored by Eventbrite

Eventbrite aims to achieve their goal by providing event organizers (rookies and pros alike) digital tools to:

  1. Very easily create an event on their platform
  2. Better promote the event on social media and on the Eventbrite directory
  3. Collect ticket fees securely
  4. Analyze the results of the ticket sales

The explosion of the participatory web (or Web 2.0), the availability of video live-streaming, online talks (like TED‘s) and digital hangouts hasn’t hindered the proliferation of physical gatherings as we still crave for face-to-face social experiences and social interactions.

According to Hartz, a perfect event would be one that allows him – as a participant – to “know beforehand who’s going to be there (e.g: is Jack Dorsey attending?), what return on investment I’m going to have and make no lines, just walk into the place [without going through the hassle of the registration desk]”.

kevin hartz

Kevin Hartz, founder and CEO of Eventbrite

Eventbrite is currently on a growth phase, having provided ticketing to more than 458,000 events – over 21 million ticket sales – in 2011. This success has been fueled by building their service around 3 strong trends that the founders of the company (the other founders include his wife Julia Hartz and Renaud Visage) had been carefully observing: the momentum in social media integration, mobile proliferation, and big data capabilities.

As an example, they observed that event organizers were painstakingly republishing their events on Facebook to activate the benefits of its social graph (the relationships between individuals on Facebook, reaching the friends of your friends), so Eventbrite integrated with Facebook to allow attendees to publish and share your events for you.

In the US, every share into Facebook brings back an extra 2.53 USD in event ticket sales. For music concerts the ticket sales increase an additional 12 USD per share.

(more on sharing statistics: Social Commerce: A closer look at the numbers)


Simplifying Check In & Sales on Location

Eventbrite also wants to make expensive hardware obsolete. With their free ticket scanner app for iPhone/iPod Touch (Entry Manager, free on iTunes), event managers no longer need an ad hoc and clunky barcode reader to check in the attendees. Back in March, they even released a physical credit card reader (At the Door) that transforms an iPad into a mobile payment solution usable at the door of the venues, a way to capitalize on last-minute sales

(more on the credit card reader on this New York Times article: Eventbrite Moves Into Mobile Payments With a Credit Card Reader).


At the Door: iPad App and Credit Card reader

Increasing Discoverability of Events

Recommendations is another field in which the company is betting its future.  Just like Amazon, Pandora or Netflix have been recommending new content and products to their users, Eventbrite is positioning itself as a catalog of what’s going to happen around you, with its homepage claiming that “If it’s happening out there you’ll find it here.” (the event discovery space is quite fragmented and so far mostly tech-oriented with other players being Lanyrd, the now discontinued Plancast, the dying Upcoming by Yahoo, Meetup and others). The flip side of helping people to discover more/new events is that they are helping events to be discovered, thus facilitating the promotion work for event managers.

It’s All About Easy Money Transactions

Curiously enough, Hartz recalls how some of the advantages that Eventbrite offers derive from his previous endeavor, Xoom Corporation, a money transfer company providing remittance services to over 40 countries worldwide. Thanks to the experience with Xoom, Eventbrite offers sophisticated fraud models and is able to manage advanced payouts, meaning they pay organizers on a weekly basis instead of the standard practice of paying them after the event, which often causes them financial strain.

Going back to friction-free experience Hartz says that “Ideally, we want Eventbrite to make the registration process ticketless, that you get to the venue and go right in, with no queues”.


Reaching Out To New Crowds

On the marketing side, it’s interesting to learn that the n.1 source bringing new organizers to Eventbrite is attendees of a payed or free event that was using their service. The positive experience and the possibility of using it for free (for free events), drives new users more than any other marketing channel. If you consider that in 2011 they had 21 million attendees, 70% of whom attended free events, that’s a huge exposure to potential new clients.

The future sees them still concentrating to their core, that is being a great transactional tool for events and help promote them. “Events are moving like the music industry, live experiences are difficult to replicate thus become more valuable. We want to grab the low hanging fruit by enabling new events to happen while expanding to new international markets.”

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