KLP Resident: Eventfinda
What they do: Make discovering events easy for consumers.
Company HQ: Auckland, New Zealand
Andrew Somervell: Chief Operating Officer
Michael Turner: Founder
Top three apps: Uber, Spotify, Jawbone Up.
Coffee fix near the KLP office: Blue Bottle Coffee
Favourite SF Nabe: Pacific Heights
Tells us a little about what Eventfinda does:
Event information is traditionally organized into different ticketing company silos, so it’s hard for consumers to find all the different events in one place. Eventfinda brings all of that information into one convenient spot for consumers.
When did Eventfinda make the move to SF?
July 2012. We launched the site from NZ, and then Michael Turner and I established a base on the ground here in the US once we were launched.
How do you divide your time between San Francisco and the States?
We are predominantly focused here. But we end up in NZ a quarter to a third of our time, just re-calibrating with the team, and reminding everyone what we look like.
How has Eventfinda used the Kiwi Landing Pad in that initial transition into the US market?
It’s been great in terms of having a base, particularly for all of our registration and legal requirements. We have invariably ended up travelling and on the road a lot. But having somewhere to put a flag in the ground has been invaluable.
What has your travel involved?
A lot of what we’ve been doing in the first few months has been getting the ball rolling on partnerships. That can involve travelling anywhere from Houston to, New York, and down the peninsula.
How have you found the event space in the US?
There are around 140 different websites in New Zealand that are notable that we can pull event information from. Now of course, there are thousands here, but the market is much larger and significantly more fragmented than New Zealand ever was.
We have found that what we do in New Zealand translates very well here. So the technology that we’ve built and the business models that we have can be executed really well, given some fuel and resources.
It’s been a heartening experience to come to the US and realise that what we do is best in market. There are also some strong competitors in certain areas that will drive us to at least match their functionality and user experience. A lot of our future looking product development will come out of the innovation that happens here.
Do you plan to grow a team over here in SF?
We will significantly scale up content and sales teams in the US, but our development and design will always be done out of Auckland. It’s far more effective, especially since we don’t have to compete for highly sought after developer talent in the SF Bay Area.
Have you come across many challenges in the US market since you’ve been here?
The lack of response to first contact, cash burn from being in market, and long lead times are all things we are very conscious of. What we’ve learned though is that a deal that would take two months in New Zealand, might take six months over here. But the deal size is ten to a hundred times bigger, so the payoff is significantly higher.
Were there any preconceptions that you had before moving to SF?
Most of the senior management at Eventfinda have been back and forth between San Francisco in the last decade or so. So it’s not a foreign animal to us. But certainly we would have expected that we would be able to achieve things like getting accommodation, getting set up, understanding the way that people talk, and getting a feel for how to network and how to approach people fairly easily. Culturally that stuff is different to New Zealand. So again, we’ve just had to accept that there are some things we don’t know. And that we need to learn those by spending time in market.
Are some of those things that the KLP community has helped out with?
Absolutely. Particularly, James Reid and Catherine Robinson who have been in market and can point you in the right direction. Ultimately you have to do a bit of your own learning. But a wise man learns from other’s mistakes.
The community here at KLP and the ability to trade information has been awesome.
Are there any insights form being here that you would like to pass on to other Kiwi companies?
I think it’s worth doing a range finding trip for a week or so to get a bit of a feel for a place and to breath the air. But then I think that the next step needs to be a very serious three to six month engagement.
We got a real education in the first three months. That was invaluable and we’re actually heartened now by the fact of understanding those terms of engagement and how people do things. When we approach people now, we are almost always successful in coming out of it with some sort of business relationship.
You cannot come over here with no budget, and you need to make a long-term commitment. The Kiwi Landing Pad is easy. But accommodation is hard. Getting a phone account set up is hard. And navigating all the visa stuff is hard.
What can we look forward to for 2013 from Eventfinda?
In 2013 we want to be able to resource appropriately, scale, and make a big song and dance. The ‘humble’ Kiwi attitude doesn’t go down very well here. While you can humbly go along and do things on a shoestring, everyone else is getting a million consumers downloading their app because they’ve promoted themselves as the next cool thing on Tech Crunch.
The exciting thing is that our product is just going to continue to keep getting better. And it’s already better than all of the others in the market from a vertical integration perspective.