What Makes Eventbrite a Billion Dollar Company?

Everything in our digital world — business, art, communication — happens on the flat screens of computers and mobile devices. But here’s the thing: people still enjoy real life. Apps for event planning offer a great connection between the virtual and the real world. 

As with mobile and web apps in other genres, event planning apps have already received plenty of attention. Here at Yalantis, we know that very well. Our developers have much experience developing event planning apps for the web, iOS, and Android.
Some of the most popular event planning apps today are:

  • Festicket, a UK-based marketplace for discovering and buying tickets for music festivals, booking accommodation, and arranging transfers and extras (Festicket recently acquired Ticket Arena and Event Genius.) 
  • Ticketbud, an American event management software and ticketing service that helps organizers sell tickets to their events 
  • Fever, a relatively young but promising US-based event discovery and ticket distribution platform 

Festicket's website

But the absolute leader of event planning apps is Eventbrite, which we’ll be examining in this article so you can get a better idea of what to expect if you decide to develop a similar app.

How much is Eventbrite worth?

This online ticketing platform was founded in 2006 by Kevin Hartz (who previously was involved with PayPal), his wife Julia Hartz, and Renaud Visage (the CTO). Since 2006, Eventbrite has raised a total of $332.3 million in funding, including through a round led by Tiger Management and T. Rowe Price, with their support amounting to as much as $60 million. Thanks to all this investment and the company’s achievements on the market, Eventbrite is valued at around $1.8 billion.

This means the Eventbrite ticketing platform is a true member of the unicorn club of elite startups. By June 2019, Eventbrite was forecasted to generate around $3.2 billion from selling over 1.1 billion tickets. Judging from their massive surge in growth, Eventbrite is doing extremely well. Though the company reported financial losses of $15.6 million over January and June 2019 (which can be explained by huge marketing expenses), Eventbrite reported a year-to-year growth of 45.1% in net revenue. 

What does Eventbrite offer in the user app?

Eventbrite offers a few products targeting both event organizers and people looking for events to attend in their local area. Here are the basic features of the Eventbrite app for event discovery:

  • An event feed with classification by categories based on user location (via GPS) and preferences

  • In-app ticket purchasing via Stripe, Braintree, or PayPal along with a flexible refund policy

  • Ticket management (like a digital wallet for tickets) and refunds

  • Personalized event recommendations 

In addition to the functionality mentioned above, there’s a discovery feature implemented through a Facebook integration that shows friends’ events, and a QR code feature in the app make it easy to check into events without printing out tickets.

Eventbrite user app

What’s in the app for organizers?

While Eventbrite provides great services to attendees, the main clients of this event giant are event organizers. That’s why Eventbrite offers diverse functionality to make the lives of event organizers easier. 

Managing events

With Eventbrite, it’s really easy to create your own events: just give an event a name and set a location, date, type, and price. Then publish it for users. Event creators can also add pictures, videos, and audio to attract more attendees. Once an event is created, event creators can preview and edit the listing.

Creating tickets

Eventbrite allows event creators to design their own paper or electronic tickets with QR codes so it’s easier for users to check in. (The app for organizers has a scanning feature that uses the phone’s camera.) Organizers can add all event details to ticket layouts and choose the type of ticket:

  • General admission — the basic and the most common ticket type 

  • VIP — premium tickets with extra services for extra money

  • Reserved seating — tickets for seated events with options to select seats

  • Multi-day pass — tickets for repeated or long-term events

  • One-day pass — one-time tickets that allow users to visit a day of events

  • Early bird discount — price-drop tickets for the presale period

  • Coded discount — tickets with a promo code for a predefined group of people (mostly for attendees who have not purchased tickets for a long time)

In addition to these seven ticket types, organizers can use the waitlisting feature that lets event-goers purchase returned tickets at the last minute, helping organizers sell as many tickets as possible. And to help organizers deal with all possible scenarios, Eventbrite lets them cancel and reschedule events in cases when, say, it’s raining heavily and the event is open-air. 

Receiving payments

To process and receive payments, organizers can choose from Eventbrite Payment Processing (the company’s own payment gateway), PayPal, Authorize.net, and local payment processors depending on the country. Eventbrite states that its own payment processor drives more sales, as PayPal charges a higher transaction fee. In addition, Eventbrite Payment Processing is good for users if organizers operate in bad faith, as Eventbrite is able to return ticket money to users quickly. 

To help organizers collect cash payments for events, Eventbrite offers integration with Square so event organizers can use point of sale terminals that can also receive cashless payments from credit cards and phones with NFC technology.

Entry management

Holding an event requires a lot of attention to detail, especially when it comes to event access control. That’s why Eventbrite offers a wide variety of services to provide event organizers a smooth and convenient check-in experience, starting from a standard barcode scanning feature in the Eventbrite Organizer app to additional tools such as RFID sensors and NFC bracelets and box-office kits. The company even provides on-site planning and consultation services and gives event organizers the opportunity to hire professional on-site staff if necessary.  

Information received from sensors, bracelets, scanners, box offices, and POS terminals is synchronized with the organizer app, so all details about free seats and sales can be seen in Eventbrite reports. 

Though the event giant supplies such great services and equipment, they cost quite a penny and aren’t as popular as Eventbrite’s online services. This is why Eventbrite is pushing organizers to use electronic tickets and mobile devices instead of paper tickets, expensive scanners, and box offices.

Promoting events

Eventbrite offers a variety of services and integrations to promote events, from integration with Animoto to develop videos for social media to the Zapier CRM system and customizable push notifications. In addition, Eventbrite is compatible with AdRoll, which helps to retarget and retain users.

What’s more, Eventbrite has integrated its service with Facebook Event’s “Buy Tickets” feature to help event organizers create event ads, spread the word, and sell more tickets. In a nutshell, a user’s event URL is incorporated into the Buy Tickets link on Facebook. All an event organizer has to do is hit the Publish to Facebook button and then invite attendees or make the event public. The Buy Tickets link will be shown in the event window next to Join, Maybe, and Decline.

Eventbrite's integration with Facebook

Analyzing event performance

Eventbrite supplies organizers with its own analytics tool that helps track sales, attendees, and traffic. And if the Eventbrite tool isn’t enough for organizers, they can add a pixel to their event page and measure an event’s performance with Google Analytics. This way, organizers can learn about the actual sources of traffic to events and how their ad campaigns work.

There are plenty of other cool features and integrations that Eventbrite provides, including a tool for sending MailChimp newsletters and a WordPress solution for building white-lablel sites for organizers. If you would like more details on how to build a perfect ticket distribution platform, hit up our guide.

How does Eventbrite make money?

Eventbrite’s monetization model is based on establishing connections with event organizers. The idea is to take care of selling tickets and promoting events in exchange for a fee for using the ticketing service. This is a wise approach that benefits event organizers by letting them get rid of the ticket selling headache while also turning a huge profit for Eventbrite. So how does Eventbrite make money? 

The company charges a service fee based on the type of service package: essential, professional, or premium. The higher the level, the more services are provided. For instance, in the professional package, event organizers get detailed sales analytics, payouts before the event, customizable checkout pages, and ticket sales from their own website. Premium users get a personal customer success manager, branded community pages, rental equipment, and other services.

In figures, the fees that Eventbrite charges vary in different countries. For instance, in Argentina, event organizers with the essential package pay 5.99% of the ticket value per sold ticket, while in the US they pay 2% plus $0.79 per ticket sold for the same package. 

Speaking of ticketing, Eventbrite is pretty democratic with their clients. It’s up to the customer to decide whether to make event attendees pay all fees by adding them on top of the ticket price or to include the fees in the total price of the tickets. And when event organizers hold a free event, Eventbrite doesn’t charge organizers anything.

What else brings money and innovation to Eventbrite?

Julia Hartz, the founder of Eventbrite, believes that acquisition is one of the best ways to expand, as you not only buy companies but also people and innovations. So far, Eventbrite has acquired nine companies!

It all started in September 2013, when Eventbrite announced the acquisition of Eventioz, an online ticketing service headquartered in Argentina, and Lanyrd, a London-based event data company. Next, in 2015, Eventbrite bought Scintilla Technologies, which provided RFID hardware and software (later used for Eventbrite’s multi-pass tickets). Later on, Eventbrite continued purchasing competitor platforms: Queue in 2016; nvite, ticketscript, and Ticketfly in 2017; and Ticketea and Picatic in 2018. Who knows if there are going to be any other ticketing platforms left in 2019 except for Eventbrite.

What could you do better than Eventbrite?

There’s always room for improvement, and Eventbrite’s major competitor, Festicket, is a perfect example of what else can be done in the event discovery industry. 

Package event tours

Say you’re going to a festival and expect to spend at least a couple days there. You’ll probably use Airbnb to rent a room, and then you’ll pick a restaurant on OpenTable. 

Festicket can supply you with all of that: instead of purchasing a single event ticket, you can buy a package that includes a room, meals, and even raincoats if the weather forecast promises rain. Moreover, if you’re looking for some activities before or after the festival, Festicket Trips allows you to add services like an extreme ski ride or a family excursion around town.

Focus on offline sales

Event Genius (now part of Festicket) understands that it can get more customers from people who accidentally stumble upon events. The company offers the very same services as Eventbrite (a barcode scanner and box-office rentals, NFC bracelets, POS transaction processing, and extra staff for events). The difference is that all of the equipment provided by Event Genius works offline. Sales and seat data is saved on a local device and later synced when an internet connection becomes available.

Event Genius plans to keep on developing services for offline events, as there are still plenty of people who rarely use online tools and prefer gigs. What’s more, Event Genius has introduced a new multiple entrances feature for faster check-ins and to save organizers’ time and nerves while running offline events.

Is there actually any room in the event discovery industry for new players when there are two giants taking the lead? The answer is yes. In fact, Eventbrite encourages other companies to enter the market and even provides an open-source API for event businesses. If you’re planning to build an event app for your company and are thinking about ways to monetize it, this is the right time. With the help of Eventbrite, you can add event management features to your website or app and access worldwide event data.

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