For the co-founder of Silicon Valley-based startup Eventbrite, raising $200 million over six years all comes down to proving to investors that you can meet and exceed expectations.
Speaking at The Sunrise conference in Sydney, Renaud Visage – who is also the chief technology officer for the global events marketplace – said he is driven to always do better by investing in people and technology.
The approach has certainly paid off. After launching with one server in 2006 and soon turning over around $100,000 in ticket sales every week, the platform now processes hundreds of thousands of dollars in tickets every two minutes.
However, that doesn’t mean investors were quick to inject capital into Eventbrite’s coffers.
Meet and exceed expectations
“We talked to a lot of VCs at the time and I think it was too early and we had high expectations for the company and that didn’t really translate in the presentations we were making,” Visage says.
“So we were turned down not for the team, not for the rate of growth, but for setting our expectations really high. So instead we decided to wait until the end of 2009 to fundraise again. One thing we did really well was leaving our business plan at the end of 2008 with investors… and when we came back at the end of 2009 they could see we had met and exceeded the plan we had left them with. So that was very convincing.”
Visage says founders should do the best with what they have, and treat each investment round as though it is the last.
“Too many startups fail because they run out of cash,” he says.
For Eventbrite, that meant snapping up young talent in order to address the company’s weaknesses.
“The first few hires were to do with product, marketing and we built each one as we grew – they were allowed to build their own teams,” Visage says.
“We hired a director of engineering as well to help me recruit – so it was very organic. We also had customer service from day one and we wanted to have a 24-7 support line. We knew it would be very important to be able to talk to anyone at any time to separate us from the pack because it’s an expensive proposition and if you can give that value to your clients you are better off and people see you in a better light.”
Focus on product
As for how to grow quickly without the wheels coming off, Visage says startups should worry about getting the product right first and foremost.
“Sometimes you don’t need all the bells and whistles you can get with a big team,” he says.
“Something that answers the needs of the users matters more than the look of the platform.”
Eventbrite opened its Australian office in May last year, with the local market accounting for around 5% of the company’s business.
In the immediate future, Visage says people can expect to see Eventbrite open many more international offices and roll out new products with a focus on mobile.
“We are at the beginning,” he says.
“It’s been nine-and-a-half years but we still have a lot to offer and a lot of new products we’re thinking about. We still have a lot of countries to conquer – we want to be a global marketplace.”