Eventbrite CEO: Tech startups should be fearless

Julia Hartz

“Never be complacent,” that’s the advice from Julia Hartz, co-founder and CEO of event ticketing company Eventbrite.

Founded in 2006 and now reportedly worth $1bn, Eventbrite is currently operating in 180 different countries and claims to process more than 2 million tickets per week.

With over 500 employees in nine different global offices, Eventbrite has arguably become the world’s biggest self-service platform for live experiences. But there were was a time when Hartz, and her co-founder and husband Kevin, could only dream of this level of success.

“We bootstrapped our company for the first three years. It wasn’t until we raised our first round from Sequoia that we began to think about scaling,” she said at The Europas, a startup conference held in London today.

Company culture

Under Hartz’s guidance, Eventbrite has been featured on Fortune’s ‘100 Best Workplaces for Women and for Millennials’ and has been voted as one of the ‘Best Places to Work in the San Francisco Bay Area’ for six consecutive years.

Company culture, she added, starts with the DNA of the founder and is something the Hartzs are unwilling to compromise on.

“The past six years have been an iterative process; a really good onboarding experience and we’ve actually had to make less of an effort to establish the company culture than in the beginning,” she noted.

Although company culture is important and Hartz believes founders should play a part in establishing it, she also said it was crucial for entrepreneurs to take somewhat of a laissez-faire approach.

“The one thing that I would say to founders is that they shouldn’t be too hands-on when it comes to culture because they can actually end up strangling it,” Hartz explained.

Dealing with competition

Despite acknowledging that starting up a business is hard, Hartz urges fellow entrepreneurs to be fearless and confident in what they’ve achieved throughout the journey.

“In hindsight, I wish I could get all the sleep back that I lost worrying about Eventbrite’s competitors at the beginning,” Hartz told the audience.

It’s not about being complacent, she added, it’s about finding the right balance.

“You should most definitely know who your competitors are but at the same time, you need to be able to appreciate what you’ve built and then think about how you can be disruptive and be the first to be so,” said Hartz.

Secondly, Hartz truly believes that if startups are to succeed they need to be confident in their ability to do so.

“Anytime we didn’t progress when we wanted to was because we didn’t have the confidence to do so. Being fearless is very important,” added the CEO.

Finally, Hartz urged fellow entrepreneurs to refrain from being too hard on themselves.

“It’s easier to look at what you want to change as opposed to what you’ve already created,” she said, adding that entrepreneurs should stop and think about their progress and appreciate how far they’ve come in their journey.