SM: Why did you approach so many firms?
JH: We wanted the Eventbrite story out there. Honestly, it is a bit of a game. At that time VCs were just getting back to putting their money to work, and by our setting the dates we made sure that things did not drag for us, and VCs were able to make sure they saw us and did not miss a deal.
SM: Volume creates pressure.
JH: We approached it more naively than that, but in the end that was one of the by-products. One of the things I learned that was astounding is that doing what you said you were going to do is rare, and it made a huge impact for us. We had been transparent with a few of the firms we had casual conversations with a year prior. Sequoia in particular had been tracking us, and they were really impressed that we did was we said we were going to do. I draw a parallel between that and hard work in the entertainment industry. It gives credibility. We ended up putting ourselves in a great position where we could evaluate several term sheets, and we did choose Sequoia.
SM: Did any of your investors question you about the married couple situation?
JH: Yes, both times. I found the question to be direct and respectful. The question was asked and the answer was given, that was that. The question was always asked as “How do you work together as a husband-and-wife team?”
Early on in our career we had gone out to a dive bar with some of our friends who had worked together. They said to divide and conquer. Don’t ever work on the same project, just the same goal. Work on different parts of the business, and if you have complementary skills that will get you from point A to point B faster. That was valuable advice. That is our motto and that is how we work.
SM: Did they ask you the question about what would happen if you broke up or if the business was not doing well?
JH: Once we realized that Eventbrite was going somewhere and we hired people and became a company with employees, I sat Kevin down and asked him what our emergency plan was. For us, that was the prioritization part. We decided that our relationship comes first, and Emma was right there with us. The company had to be second. If anything did, or ever does, start affecting our relationship, I have already decided that I will leave the company. It is a good way to challenge yourself to work together. He would be equally sad if I were not there with him every day. We do a lot to make sure we work well together.
I learn a lot from Kevin. He has been my mentor. When we do come down to a key decision that we disagree on, Kevin is our leader. He is our CEO. There has to be a clear understanding of who is boss. I am 110% satisfied saying that Kevin is our boss. He is credible and I believe in him. We have an extraordinary relationship because he does listen so well. He empowers me to do things I never thought I would be doing.
SM: How do you manage your time between your real baby and your business baby?
JH: Our baby runs the house! Emma was born into this Eventbrite world of ours. When we talk about going to Eventbrite, she is excited knowing that mommy and daddy are going off together and that they will be back. She has been to the office plenty and has a lot of friends there.
It is not perfect. A week ago I was getting dressed in the closet when she said “Momma, I don’t want you to go to work” and she promptly pulled one of her daddy’s baseball caps over her face as if she were embarrassed to say that. I had a moment and had to hold her and maybe shed a tear. I knew that moment was coming. I did not know how I would react after she stated that. She just started a pre-school program two days a week, which makes her feel like she has her own thing.
We have a unique arrangement. Both of our parents are involved. On Mondays her nanny comes. On Tuesdays, Kevin’s mother and father come over at 7 a.m. and Kevin and I go to staff meeting at 9 a.m.. My mom comes up at 10 a.m., takes over, and stays with Emma overnight. That is Kevin’s work-late night, although I come home and have dinner with Emma and my mother. Wednesdays are split between my mom and the nanny, and it is also our date night. Fridays I work from home. I take Emma to an activity in the morning and have the nanny over as well. That is our effort to not be absent parents in her life. Fridays are much more exhausting than just being at the office.