President & Co-founder, Eventbrite
After a comfortable career in Television Development at MTV Networks and FX Networks, Julia put it all on the line to jump head first into a new project with her now husband, Kevin. Julia spends her days focusing on the happiness of her team of “Britelings” at Eventbrite, an online forum that connects people to READ MORE »
Q: Please share with us the story of how your professional journey began and has brought you to where you are today.
A: I began my prior career straight out of college in the series development department at MTV West Coast. My group was responsible for “Jackass.” You’re welcome.
After 5 years in a career full of insanely fortunate creative opportunities and a chance to meet almost every artist I had admired, it was clear to me that the grass may actually be greener on tech side of the fence. I had met Kevin and while we dated long distance for two years, I lived vicariously through his experience as an entrepreneur and angel investor. Silicon Valley thrived on two things I longed for: velocity and meritocracy. These two things were non-existent in Hollywood.
Kevin persuaded me to leave my television career behind and take the leap in starting a new venture with him in the online event ticketing space. Kevin was passionate about online payment processing since his early days as a seed investor in PayPal. Together, we were crazy about the possibilities of disrupting a stagnant market with an easy to use yet robust online platform.
We began as a bootstrapped party of two and have grown over the past few years into an $80m venture-backed, 200 person company that is a formidable player in the ticketing industry. We have a huge green field of opportunity in front of us, lots of room to disrupt, and the team to take on any challenge that may present itself to us along the way.
Q: If a business has several, viable ways to grow and innovate, how do you pick the best road to take?
A: Focus on one at a time and diligently track, monitor, and test that growth path. Don’t be afraid to try something new once you have a baseline to see which track is the most viable. However, focus is key, so only try one or two at a time to really understand the viability. Doing too many things at once(none of them so well) never pans out.
Q: What’s your best advice for an entrepreneur in an early/bootstrapping phase? Or in a growth/need to ‘now scale’ phase?
A: Take the time and care to pick the right team. Find your weaknesses and then hire into those areas with people you believe in and trust. Give them the responsibility and ownership over their areas of expertise. That is the secret to getting an idea off the ground and sustaining a great company.
Q: How much time do you spend on networking versus focusing on the internal affairs of your business (such as management, strategy, ideation etc)?
A: At the moment, I am spending all of my time on internal affairs. My focus is on the happiness and productivity of our team and I hope it will always be the case. However, this focus ebbs and flows as opportunities arise for my co-founder (Kevin Hartz) and I to actively promote the company and see leverage from that exposure. We always come back to “center” which is the team.
Q: Many people become discontent with their current career yet are too afraid or reluctant to make a change. What’s your best advice for women in this situation?
A: Know and believe that nothing is forever. You can always take a risk and learn from it. If your idea or experience does “fail,” you’ve learned a tremendous lesson and can apply it going forward – therefore it wasn’t a failure at all. The only way someone can truly fail is to doubt herself, and not take the leap.
Q: If you had the opportunity to give advice to your younger self at say the age 13, what would you say?
A: Dear Julia,
My, those are fancy braces you’re wearing. You know, it is true that if you don’t wear that retainer religiously upon getting your braces off, you’ll forever have two crooked bottom teeth.
You know how you dream about having a dashing husband, two adorable children, and being in charge of your own career? That can come true. It’s all about finding the right partner and believing in your own ability to make it happen.
You know how you are really good at asking for what you want? That direct communication will come in handy too.
Never lose your inability to lie – this is rare and will be appreciated by your peers.
In closing, I know you have your heart set on becoming a ballerina or a back-up dancer for Janet Jackson. There’s a little subject called Computer Science…don’t walk, run, and learn how to code! Believe me.
Your 32-year-old Self
Q: It is a common saying that we learn more from our mistakes than from our successes. Can you share a story about a time when you experienced a mistake, and how you eventually came out a winner because of the lesson it taught you?
A: The biggest mistake I’ve made to-date in growing Eventbrite is ignoring my gut. That intuitive feeling is so powerful and can so easily be overlooked or drowned out by doubts, persuasion, and others’ opinions. I’ve become almost religious about always expressing my gut feeling and being strong about following my intuition.
Q: Usually reaching something great or grand in life requires taking a risk. What has been your greatest risk so far and how was it rewarding?
A: Simply believing in myself, trusting my partner, and giving entrepreneurship my best shot has been the greatest risk—and it has has yielded a wonderful life. I consider myself to be the risk adverse side of our partnership and so the fact that I actually took the leap and left the comfort of a corporate and solid career still surprises me.
ON Self Care
Q: Online calendars, emailing ourselves, post-it notes… I’m still struggling to find the best way to manage my time and to do list? What’s your method?
A: Evernote, all the way! We also use Google calendar for everything – personal, work, and family. I also utitlize the Google Task List because it’s in my face while I’m emailing – a great way to stay focused and on-task.
ON Self Care
Q: In theory, one should prioritize their own health in order to be in the best state to take care of others (family, kids, work, etc.). But in reality, I’ve found that women often take care of themselves last. What are your thoughts on this?
A: It’s a constant challenge and one that can be overcome only to return stealthily if you’re not careful. I love the “put your oxygen mask on first” analogy when I’m trying to find time to take care of myself. Finding the right partner in life can also be a big help in taking care of yourself. You need support to feel like you can put yourself first and I’ve found that support in my partner and my family, whom I keep very close by.
ON Self Care
Q: What do you believe is the secret to finding the right person and maintaining a long term, good relationship?
A: I always think of it as a list of non-negotiables – what is most important to you in a partner? What can you live without? Finding a person who meets most of your non-negotiables is key to building a long-term, stable relationship. Then, it’s all about flexibility in growing and maintaining the relationship.
Q: How do you balance career and motherhood?
A: I have learned, the hard way, how to ask for and receive help. It takes bravery to do this as we are somehow hard-wired to think we need to grin and bear all the burden of family, work, relationship, and personal well-being. It’s not noble, it’s suicidal! I have surrounded myself with loved ones and hired support to be able to run a company and be the best mom I can be. My life revolves around my babies: Eventbrite and two little girls at home. I also make sure to take time out with my husband, away from work, and with my family. That leaves not much time for friends or physical activity so those two areas are the ones that suffer at the moment.
Q: If you love to cook, can you share a favorite recipe?
A: I’m sharing the most simple yet delicious winter recipe:
1 butternut squash
1 yellow onion
1 container of chicken broth
Set oven to 400 degrees.
Cut squash lengthwise in half and put in roasting or baking dish
Melt coconut oil (2 tbsp) over low heat and pour all over squash
Sprinkle with sea salt & pepper
Roast in oven for 45-50 mins
Let cool on a cutting board until you can handle
Meanwhile, chop onion and sauté in coconut oil
Peel skin off butternut squash and chop into chunks
Add squash to sautéed onions
Add whole container of chicken broth
Simmer for about 10-15 mins
Use a hand blender and puree soup in pot OR pour soup into blender and puree
Simmer & stir pureed soup, adding sea salt and pepper to taste