Founder & CEO of Hacker Noon
EventGeek, a recent Y-Combinator alum, is building the the event marketing platform. Marketing your event is a very disjointed process — and in marketing events, which I’ve done a number of times — there’s a lot of low hanging in how to market your event that you often don’t know about until you do it. Anyways, I caught up with Alex to discuss how he moved from marketing leader to CEO of his own startup, and what’s next for EventGeek.
1. We met at the HIVE Summit in Yerevan April 2015. Back then you not only had the idea for EventGeek but had started building it while still working another job. Many people find themselves in your situation — trying to build the dream while 9 to 5-ing their way to paying rent. It’s struggle to find the confidence and security to know your business idea should take up 100% of your professional effort. Can you hone in on and explain any moments of clarity you had in knowing that EventGeek needed to be your reality?
I actually tried to keep EventGeek as a side project for as long as possible. It was only after we’d gotten into Y Combinator that I felt comfortable enough to quit my job, take the plunge and go full-time on the opportunity. The money and prestige of Y Combinator made it possible, but I was definitely ready. As a team, we’d already closed a few larger deals and were validating the product continually with customer feedback. Our first enterprise customer paid us to develop a feature that they really needed and also fit into our roadmap. A huge company signed up on their own, without any outreach from us, and very quickly became our most active team. Another customer told us she’d been waiting for something like EventGeek for years, that she was almost ready to build it herself. And so on… all of these moments built up our conviction that we were onto something.
2. In your past job, you had a large marketing budget. How are you coping and finding success in marketing with the budget of an early stage startup?
We have to be very disciplined in how we spend on marketing. Paid acquisition isn’t a priority anyways, since we’re innovating a new category. We’re at a stage where we’re just starting to create demand, and that takes content, education and patience. We get great ROI from content marketing and will be doing more. We do industry events, but not yet as an exhibitor or sponsor, usually as a speaker or awards contender.
3. Part of the appeal of EventGeek is the dashboard, i.e. everything to market your event is in one place, and starts here. This creates an interesting integration challenge. As a product, I imagine you don’t want to sacrifice your experience but you also want to power as much as possible of the event marketing flow, and that demands integration with other products. How do you go about prioritizing and optimizing your partnerships and integrations?
We focus on a very specific customer profile. Events are a huge category and no technology service provider can serve all of the segments and needs, at least coherently. In fact, it’s difficult to serve even a couple of segments and still be really good in this market. A lot of resources go into making any product really good and there’s a huge delta on customers’ needs across event industry segments. So we have our ideal customer profile and stick to it.
With that focus, prioritization just becomes a matter of sales. The feature and integration requests that we get are almost always on our roadmap, or should be. What feature or integration are prospective customers willing to pay in-advance for? That’s what we’re going to build next.