How a start-up stole event announcements from news media companies

By Pit Gottschalk

Funke Media Group

Berlin, Germany


Think of your publication as a kind of experience people are willing to pay for.

They don’t want to read just a piece of a story in your newspaper or magazine. Most of them stick to the brand you’ve created over the years and, in the best cases, are committed to your approach of guidance in how to spend their time. Your publication tells them, for example, what events are worth attending.

Eventbrite has created a business model that replaces the newspaper's role in listing events.
Eventbrite has created a business model that replaces the newspaper's role in listing events.

There’s no economics of scale yet. At least, not for publishing companies. Publishers just hope this service of event announcements can keep readers in touch with their newspapers.

Honestly, this hope could be a mistake. The threat of your editorial job is actually around the corner.

Eventbrite, a company based in San Francisco, was founded in 2006 to help people find and create events providing small and large experiences. It isn’t difficult at all to see the parallels between event organisations and publishing companies. Both have to plan, promote, and sell products in an era of high competition, with no guarantee of success, mostly based on experience.

Even more, in the digital age, they have to think and publish across platforms; embrace stars, artists, and authors; and expand what we call a “customer journey.” Eventbrite has created this mix of free and paid services that put the company’s marketplace into the centre of demand and offerings — just like a news media company should act as a bridge between subjects of reporting and readers.

What Eventbrite does differently is it enables its customers to become part of the game. While news media companies invest a lot of effort (and money) to announce someone’s event and, later on, report on that event, Eventbrite gives people the tools to let them announce and promote the events on their own behalf and risk. If tickets are sold, Eventbrite takes a share.

Why do local event organisations not pay the local news media companies to announce their events? There could be two reasons: They aren’t used to doing so, or, even worse, the service and/or marketing effect of the local newspapers aren’t compelling enough. That’s the space Eventbrite is stepping in to.

Look at this company and how the former start-up rolls out its international expansion. It’s thrilling.

Eventbrite has a guide called “International Playbook” that explains, step-by-step in six steps, how to enter market-by-market worldwide. The starting point was Dublin, then Melbourne, and, meanwhile, Germany. In these markets, event organisations don’t need publishers anymore.

Here is a breakdown of those six steps:

  1. Chapter one: Eventbrite collects market data about culture and value, media consumption, payment methods, and the legal situation. Of course, local competitors are observed.

  2. Chapter two: What product fits the market needs? Eventbrite scopes out and builds the product to see how the test market reacts.

  3. Chapter three: It’s getting faster. The foundation is set up: Legal, taxes, accounting, and finance.

  4. Chapter four: To tear down hurdles, the local language support starts.

  5. Chapter five: Market entry strategy time. That’s the job of senior manager Elsita Meyer-Brandt, a German staff member, defining team, office, pricing, marketing, sales, and support in the country entered. 

  6. Chapter six: The launch, including recruiting, is done within one to three months.

As a start-up like Mediapreneure, you don’t need a newspaper anymore to promote your events. Eventbrite is smarter and faster in doing this.

About Pit Gottschalk

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