This week, Cory speaks to entrepreneur and investor Kevin Hartz, who’s well-known for co-founding the leading global self-ticketing platform Eventbrite and is currently a partner at early stage venture capital firm Founders Fund. In this weeks episode, Kevin talks about how he got started as a 26-year-old founder, gives advice on how to connect with brilliant people, the moment he knew he was onto something big, the best way to attract and retain talent and much more.
Eventbrite Co-Founder and investor (Founders Fund) Kevin Hartz has always placed a significant amount of importance on learning. While earning a Master’s Degree in British History from Oxford University seems like an odd path for a tech entrepreneur, Hartz says that it “was an opportunity to learn how to learn.” Kevin has used that ability to grow a company that in 2013 surpassed $2B in sales.
In the early days of Eventbrite, Hartz and the Eventbrite team shared offices with other entrepreneurs and startups including Clickster (acquired by Warner Brothers), Tripet (acquired by Concord), and Zynga. “Mark (Pincus) had his first office in the office we had…we always had these really great founders around us.” Kevin has learned important lessons from entrepreneurs and investors from Roelof Botha to Peter Thiel. “Peter has always challenged me on conventional thinking. I think that we can always be in this mode of kind of going with the flow and not even realizing it, realizing that there are other realities out there. Peter, in any conversation, always has a provocative, unconventional view of the world.”
Early in my journey as an entrepreneur, many have learned, from Kevin and others, the importance of surrounding myself with other motivated and talented entrepreneurs, and people with other views and skillsets. While Cory was building relationships with and learning from hundreds of entrepreneurs, he was encouraged to find a way to bring those connections together while providing them value. Cory created the NextGen Conference in 2009, which is now Internapalooza, and I invited Kevin to speak. He spoke at the first event and they’ve stayed in touch since.
“…the notion of starting my own company and being my own boss was especially alluring.”
Kevin Hartz’s first job (Silicon Graphics, SGI)
The early days of Eventbrite
Oh shit moments. “fraudsters were trying to steal hundreds of thousands of dollars.”
How roles within the company changed over time. “It centers around finding the right people at the right stage of the business to help ramp that business and grow it and keep the hyper growth going.”
The importance of mentors to Kevin
What Kevin has learned from Peter Thiel
What Kevin has learned from Roelof Botha
Kevin shares a story about the early days of Airbnb where they made national news for all of the wrong reasons. “These moments always define companies and I think this is one of these definitive moments that was very clear that this team wasn’t going to surrender.”
In response to the question “What’s something controversial today that you think will be commonplace tomorrow?,” Kevin talks about Grabr, a business that uses travelers to deliver goods to others
Is college necessary? “Absolutely not. I question college more and more”
How Kevin approaches his daily routine
What founders are wasting their time on. “I get extremely frustrated when somebody is not really tackling a problem that really matches their intellect and skill, I would point to really assessing.”