EC1 Capital

How startups close big deals; the story behind evvnt's eventbrite extension

Interview with Richard Green, CEO and Founder of evvnt on their landmark deal with Eventbrite.
Cem Guralp Cem Guralp Thu 19th Mar 2015 11:03

Last week we posted an article on portfolio company evvnt, specifically on their selection as one of the ten global partners in Eventbrite’s Extension plan.

In a nutshell, thanks to evvnt’s integration, Eventbrite organisers are now able to publish their events to hundreds of listing sites in the matter of a single click. Where once it required and organiser to painstakingly go to every site they wanted to be listed on to list their event, they can now use evvnt to do that from within their Eventbrite account in seconds.

The obvious upside for event organisers is the huge amount of time they save without losing out on the link publishing, it’s implications for organic search and the most obvious one of increased exposure leading to more traffic and higher sales.

From the point of view of evvnt, the integration with Eventbrite will be “a huge catalyst for growth.” But as CEO and founder Richard Green tells us, it was neither by luck nor chance that this relatively young London startup found themselves as one of the select few Eventbrite Extensions partners alongside giants like Survey Monkey and Fundly.

Its a pretty remarkable achievement when you think about it and in our catch up with him Richard talked us through what it took to get to the deal and shared some amazing tips for other start-ups going after big deals with big companies.

Long Term Vision

A deal with Eventbrite was always a huge strategic goal for evvnt. “Eventbrite isn’t the biggest platform in terms of the number of events, but it does do something quite unique, and that is sell tickets” Richard tells us. As such, a service that quickly provides high levels of exposure to a targeted audience, while simultaneously lifting the profile of that event in organic search rankings and at the same time offering analytics on channel conversion will be incredibly valuable to Eventbrite organisers as they want to sell as many tickets as possible.

Providing this combination of services was evvnt’s vision so Richard knew a partnership that put evvnt in front of that potential customer base would be a huge catalyst for growth. That’s why, when asked by Tim Chambers, formerly SVP International Corporate Development at Live Nation Entertainment what would “change his life,” Richard “flippantly” replied “a deal with Eventbrite.”

That response, based on 100% certain knowledge of evvnt’s “aspiration and clear strategy of endgame” lead to what Richard describes as a “critical introduction.”

Introductions

As Tim had previously worked with the senior executives at Eventbrite he was in a position to put in an introduction and see if they would take a phone call with Richard and not too long after he was on the phone with Kevin Hartz CEO & Co Founder of Eventbrite and a number of other executives.

But he says, “Without Tim being willing to connect the gap between small companies and large companies you would never have that conversation.”

So it’s not hard to see why “being in conversations with credible professionals in your space, thought-leaders, influential people is essential to be recommended.” “Can you imagine ringing front desk?” says Richard “not going to happen.”

Preparation

Of course the introduction is just the very smallest of first steps “its the CEO of Eventbrite, there’s no point in just going ‘Hi, I’m a big fan’ - you’ve got to have something to talk to them about.”

So evvnt and Richard spent a great deal of time preparing a deck to put in-front of them, they sent Eventbrite execs invites to try their product and created logins for them. The evvnt team made sure that even before the phone call that came out of the “crucial introduction” the Eventbrite execs knew as much about their comparatively small company that they could, however even then Richard knew that a call wouldn’t close any deal.

Face to Face

On meeting face to face and the impact it had on the deal, Richard has some pretty strong views on it’s importance: “I just personally think things change when you meet someone, so it was great to have the conversation but in order for Eventbrite to move I knew I had to look the guys in the eye and say ‘look, this is my company, this is what we do, I’ve flown here (San Francisco) to see you for one hour’.” Which is exactly what he did back in July 2014.

But although Richard says it was crucial that he make that trip from London to the West Coast, he’d also tell you that it still wasn’t nearly enough just to show that level of commitment. In fact he didn’t walk out of that meeting anywhere near to having a concrete deal. “To some extent they did just say ‘Great to meet you, lets talk again early 2015’” but this is where Richard and the evvnt’s team persistence paid off.

Persistence

Rather than just looking for other partnerships, Richard persisted with Eventbrite because he knew that their platform had so much to offer users in that ecosystem.

Armed with the prep they had done for their meeting in SF, the evvnt team went and talked to the marketing teams of Eventbrite in Spain, France and the UK and it was in the UK office that they got their first break.

Eventbrite’s head of marketing for the UK & Ireland Marino Fresch liked the idea and decided to give evvnt’s services a six week trial late last year. While this was a slight risk in going somewhat going under the table, he knew that the juice would be worth the squeeze.

This was because the next time Eventbrite’s execs looked at evvnt, they had already “qualified the work as being credible” and in Richard’s words “thought that they should give us a shot.”

Payoff

This in turn lead to the “Extensions” deal that was announced yesterday. The deal that alternatively could be called evvnt’s “huge catalyst for growth”.



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