Thursday, October 15, 2015
Why Silicon Valley Runs On EventBoard, with Shaun Ritchie
If you ever visit companies across Silicon Valley for a meeting, you'd be surprised at the number of high profile companies—Airbnb, Yelp, Zynga, Tesla, Dropbox, and many, many others—who are using the conference and lobby management products of Utah's EventBoard (www.eventboard.io). We spoke with EventBoard CEO and co-founder, Shaun Ritchie about how what started out as a side project became a huge, viral Silicon Valley hit—with venture backing from such investors as Google Ventures, Zetta Venture Partners, Salesforce.com founder Marc Benioff, Dave Elkington and Josh James.
What is EventBoard all about?
Shaun Ritchie: Our mission is all about optimizing collaboration within and enterprise. We have a user-centric tool that helps feed data and analytics into companies to better understand how their employees or organization is collaborating together. These are insights we are able to glean from Exchange and other layers of information we can compile together.
How did the company start?
Shaun Ritchie: The company started as a side project to a different company we had. We were really building iOS apps for other companies, agency style. We built EventBoard as a solution to a problem that we both had internally, and other people seemed to be having all over the place. Once we put that app out there, we started getting a lot more traction, and it caught on like wildfire.
You guys have a lot of really, big name customers. What was the magic that enabled you to sign up all those flagship customers so quickly?
Shaun Ritchie: It's pretty insane, the power of word-of-mouth marketing. Our product is a very visual product, at least, one element of it is. So, when someone walks into someone's office for a meeting, it turns out that meetings are inherently viral. When people see that technology in someone else's office, they want it for themselves.
You also have some pretty prominent investors. How did you connect with them?
Shaun Ritchie: I started learning several years ago, at a deeper level, on the value of relationships and partnership. Some through some of the early folks who got excited about our product and solution, that snowballed into them wanting to make connections for us to a lot of those other folks. We've been grateful recipients of many introductions, which have come our way. It's not because of anything we've done, but because someone took a chance on us and said—you should talk to so-and-so, you should meet this person, this person can add value to you.
What was the point where you figured out this wasn't just a side project, that you needed to commit to this as a real company?
Shaun Ritchie: You know, there was a very distinct moment where we were looking at this as a side project. I actually asked my current co-founder and CTO, Zack Holmquist: We're seeing a lot of inbound interest in this product, we have a bunch of customers in San Francisco, why don't you fly out there, get meetings with those people, figure out what's going on out there and why they are adopting our product. We put him on a plane, he went to these companies, they rolled out the red carpet, they were super excited about what we were doing. He came back, said, we got the red carpet rolled out, these companies love this, and this is something serious. Unfortunately, I didn't take him seriously enough, and told him I had to see this myself. So, the next week, we were both on a plane to San Francisco, the exact same thing happened, and we looked at each other and said—this is a big business, there's a lot of opportunity here.
Thanks, great story!