Antler VC Cast Episode 20 — The Future of Events with Renaud Visage

In Episode 20, we speak to Renaud Visage, co-founder and former CTO of Eventbrite. Renaud has been at the helm and foundation of Eventbrite's technical architecture from its inception and has built it into the leading events platform of the world. Renaud is also an avid photographer, startup mentor and angel investor. In this episode, he shares how Eventbrite successfully and quickly pivoted to online events during the Covid-19 pandemic, his predictions for the future of hybrid events, and doles out valuable advice for entrepreneurs.

antler

Author

Antler

The investor backing the world's most driven founders, from day zero to greatness. Enabling thousands of founders every year to launch and scale companies that move the world forward.

Key Highlights From Transcript

[9:40] On beginning to integrate a fragmented online events space pre-pandemic

Renaud Visage: We actually picked up on the demand for online events in 2019. We look at our data pretty closely and I was involved with a small team of engineers looking at the webinars space, in particular. We saw a growing trend of more and more creators posting webinars for a variety of topics, and having to send emails left and right with links to Google Docs and forms and things like that to share the content that they wanted to share before the event, be engaged during the event and share additional content after the event. So we were working on integrations with streaming providers who could power these webinars and also create a space for attendees to go to and have all the relevant information. We created what we call the “online event page” where you can put a bunch of links to different content. You can have videos, images, documents, really with the mindset around “how do we make the webinar creator’s life easier?”.

[10:55] Rolling out the first version of the online product during COVID

Renaud Visage: When COVID hit, we had been working on this for about six months already and we had the first version of the product. Creators had no choice but to shift to online and our business evaporated from one month to the next. We thought about how we can help our creators survive this. Yes, as an entity, we are at risk. Especially at a time where everybody is asking for refunds or postponement of events, we took care of that first. Then we invested in helping creators transition from one business model to another.

All of a sudden, their local audience was no longer sufficient. They had to move online and find completely new technology. They have no knowledge of how to create a good experience. So there was a steep learning curve for us and them as well. And our strategy was to build integrations with what we saw were the leading platforms of streaming content - Zoom in particular. We built a deeper integration that sent the ticket buyer history directly into the Zoom room.

[13:50] On bridging physical and online events with creativity and resourcefulness

Renaud Visage: For several months, nobody knew how they were going to make money or whether they were going to survive. The industry got together and there were a few initiatives to either get more national subsidies for keeping the entertainment industry alive, but also a lot of resourcefulness and creativity in creating new formats for events that had a very strong physical component. For example, Murray’s Cheese had cheese tasting physical events in their stores at the beginning, and then they pivoted into an online model where they will ship the cheese and wine to everyone before the event. You can have a physical experience in the confines of your own home, which has been very popular actually. I am always humbled by the creativity and the resilience of all the creators who trust us with their business and we’re always thinking about how we can be a true partner for all these online event creators.

[20:30] On creators balancing online and physical events to access a global audience

Renaud Visage: There's more availability of great content out there now because everybody's had to move online. So I think the ones who have been successfully making that transition will definitely continue. You can build a worldwide audience if you have good marketing so why give up that part of the business? But I think it will be in complement to the physical events, because that's at the core of what the creator wants, that physical proximity. They're not businessmen first, they are passionate people who want to do something with that passion and inspire others. You can do that so much more easily in a physical setting where you are fully dedicated and you’re not juggling between five different apps as you're watching, which is kind of how we do online events.

[28:50] On the importance of building strong foundations in your startup

Renaud Visage: I used to be a civil engineer so maybe I'll take a construction analogy. But something we never see in buildings is their foundations. Buildings will crumble if they don't have the proper foundations. And I think it's applicable to startups as well, even if you're going at 300 kilometers an hour building your business. On a regular basis, you need to think about your foundation-  what do you stand for as a company? What values are you going to look for in your future teammates? How do you build a culture that ensures everyone, including your customers, understands what you stand for and what your values are. What do you want your company to look like in 10 years or even 30 years? I think taking time to build these foundations is really important.

At Eventbrite, we picked people (maybe without explicitly thinking about it) that adhere to that view of the world that we had, so that we could build a company that was enduring for the long term. For example, strong values around work-life balance or diversity. Our board and executive teams are diverse. It's easy to forget all that and postpone until later when you have commercial success.  It might already be too late because the foundation is built over time. It's not like buildings where you have the blueprint of what it's going to look like exactly. You need to take time on a regular basis to think about it, pause and put in place the small process changes that you need to create something that you're proud of and that really resonates with your core values.

Subscribe to our newsletter

Get the latest news and views from Antler’s global community

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Must-read articles from Antler

Browse our collection of founder stories, industry insights and latest startup successes from Antler Australia

See articles
Insights
5 min read
The Angle: Why the long-term view is the hard but right one

The Angle is a new content series from Antler, featuring perspectives from our team members on the biggest events and trends impacting founders and early-stage investors today. Every article is that person's unique angle on a hot topic—what they see from their vantage point in one of our 25 offices around the globe—not Antler's stance. In our first edition, Jeff Becker draws lessons from the demise of FTX and turbulent tech moments in recent years. This article first appeared in Jeff's Monday Morning Meeting on Substack.

Founder Stories
5 min read
Jamie Bubb: The tech marketing venture developer connecting brands and content creators

Our new content series—"It All Starts with People"—delves into the passions, motivations, and vision of the exceptional founders we have the privilege of partnering wtih around the world. In our second spotlight, we sat down with Jamie Bubb, co-founder of Twirl, a remote content studio powered by top-quality creators that helps brands scale their content engines rapidly and cost-effectively.

Insights
5 min read
Venture investing in the downturn

We are living two simultaneous realities: the uncertainty of the current downturn and the unstoppable wave of innovation disrupting every industry. Against this backdrop, Antler's Kevin Brennan shares perspectives on assessing your position in venture capital for the rest of 2022 and into 2023. Might 2023 be the best vintage for the coming decade?

Founder Stories
5 min read
Emilia Theye: The psychologist using AI to democratize access to mental health solutions

Antler was founded on the belief that people innovating is the key to building a better future. To honor them, we are launching a new content series—”It All Starts with People”—spotlighting the exceptional founders we have the privilege of partnering with around the world. Each story is a window into their passions, motivations, and vision—the reasons they are building and the positive dent they are aiming to make on the world.

In our first spotlight, we sat down with Emilia Theye, the co-founder of clare&me—a mental health app that uses language-based AI to develop an innovative approach to virtual self-help.

News
5 min read
Backing founders from day zero to greatness

Today we are sharing our new brand that reflects that commitment and the reason Antler exists: to stand behind our founders from day zero and to keep backing them on their paths to greatness.

Founder Stories
5 min read
Seven ways founders can prioritize mental well-being as they build

Founders are the life force of the startup ecosystem. They give their all, betting on their seemingly “crazy” convictions and executing on abstract ideas that can potentially make our lives and work easier, faster, healthier, and better optimized.

But sometimes they do this to the detriment of their health. Being a founder means being beholden to customers, employees, and investors while balancing personal life. Often founders trade their stable, well-paying jobs to prioritize the restless inquisitivity of their mind. In the quest to answer the question “what if?”, they sometimes sacrifice their mental and physical health, only realizing the effects on their state of mind once they have impacted their ability to function as a leader. We have also seen how the mental pressure on founders can cause distress to those who depend on them for their livelihood and direction.

Insights
5 min read
A fresh take on early-stage VC: Harvard Business School publishes a case study on Antler

Harvard Business School (HBS) recently published a case study about Antler’s fresh approach to early-stage venture capital. Antler Co-Founder Fridtjof Berge shares thoughts on how the case sparks discussion about the best ways to identify and support great people anywhere on earth.

Insights
5 min read
The 2022 Iberia Unicorn Founder Roadmap: A New Unicorn-Land Takes Flight

The Iberian ecosystem is attracting attention in the startup world with a staggering number of unicorns—startup companies with a value of more than $1 billion—and new funds in the past year. The combination of talent, capital, and startup-friendly governance has created a breeding ground for innovation.