One of the greatest Silicon Valley myths is that you can build a billion dollar tech company overnight, exit and live happily ever after.
It’s something which ticketing platform Eventbrite co-founder and CTO Renaud Visage says drives many entrepreneurs to embark down the startup road.
“It’s a great motivation for people who are thinking about building startups to have a few examples of companies that were built very quickly, grew very quickly and were sold very quickly for very high amounts but it’s not the majority of what happens in Silicon Valley,” he told Business Insider.
Eventbrite has been an instant success, nine years in the making. Launching back in 2006, today it has more than 500 employees across the globe, and in 2014 alone, it processed more than $1.5 billion in gross ticket sales for attendees in 187 countries.
Nonetheless Visage says myths like these are important to promote entrepreneurial behaviour around the world — even if they probably aren’t the right motivation to launch a tech company.
“We’ve been very frugal since day one,” he said. “We gave ourselves two years to figure out if we had a viable product.”
Eventbrite’s original site was desktop-only and enabled users to create tickets for events. Users started asking for more features which enabled Eventbrite to iterate on the fly and direct its limited resources in the early days to what the users needed.
After bootstrapping the company for two years, in late 2008 the founders started thinking about funding but Visage said they were mostly rejected. Going back to venture capitalists in 2009, Eventbrite was able to show progress and closed its first external investment.
“For us it was really a benchmark of growth in the company to get a well known fund to invest,” he said. It has since raised about $200 million over a number of rounds from top tier including Tiger Global and Sequoia Capital.
It is Eventbrite’s journey which Visage says blows a hole in the thinking that you can have instant success building an e-commerce platform.
“One of the myths that you can build a very high growth company and sell it off for billions in a few years is one of the Silicon Valley myths which drives people from around the world to build startups. But it might not be the right motivation.”
Since opening an Australian office last year, the company has recorded massive growth of events listed on its platform. More than 100,000 Australian events have been posted on Eventbrite since 2009, with 25% of these in 2014 alone. Both Sydney and Melbourne each have over 6,000 public events currently listed on the platform. The Australian market now accounts for 5% of Eventbrite’s global business and on a per capita basis is one of its biggest markets.
“It takes a while for companies to find their market,” he said, adding it doesn’t take too long to build a product these days but it still needs to launch it, grow a user base, train teams and get traction.
“The myth that you can get into the Valley and be instantly successful is really a myth. It happens occasionally but the Instagrams of the world — there’s not too many of them,” Visage said. “Even for them, it took them many pivots before they came up with the Instagram concept which made them successful. It wasn’t a slam-dunk on say one either.”