Innovation and enterprise blog

The British Library Business & IP Centre can help you start, run and grow your business


This blog is written by members of the Business & IP Centre team and some of our expert partners and discusses business, innovation and enterprise. Read more

04 February 2016

Spotlight on … Renaud Visage, Eventbrite Co-Founder

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We chatted to Eventbrite Co-Founder, Renaud Visage, ahead of his upcoming appearance at our Inspiring Entrepreneurs event later this month. Eventbrite, the world's largest self-service ticketing platform, allows you to create, share and find events that interest you – anything from concerts to conferences and everything in between. Renaud shares his experience of co-founding and growing what is now an internationally recognised brand.

Renaud Visage

Hi Renaud! What was your background before Co-Founding Eventbrite?

I have engineering degrees from American and French universities and started my career as an environmental consultant.  I was always fascinated by the internet and joined one of the early photo sharing pioneers, Zing Networks, which was later acquired by Sony.  In 2006 I joined forces with Kevin and Julia Hartz to be the founding technical architect of the Eventbrite platform.

Where did the idea for Eventbrite come from?

When Julia, Kevin and I worked together to co-found Eventbrite in 2006 we saw a gap in the market; only the largest events, arenas and stadiums had access to technology - the rest were buried in email and Excel spreadsheets to manage their events.  Our idea was to build a self-service, intuitive product that leveraged technology to open up and democratise ticketing, making it widely available to anyone interested in hosting an event. Since then, we’ve helped millions of event organizers easily create, promote and sell tickets.  In 2015 alone, we supported over two million events in over 180 countries, and processed over two million tickets to events around the world each week. In recent years, as Eventbrite’s business and innovative solutions have taken hold, even organisers of large events have realised the power of our simple, yet robust, technology particularly for mobile ticketing, and use our platform to ticket events with tens of thousands of attendees.

What steps did you (and your co-founders) take to make Eventbrite a global brand?

We’ve always been very focused on providing a reliable and trusted technology platform and this has been integral to our brand proposition. As we began to grow outside of the US, we knew it would require much more work than simple translation.  We knew we needed to focus on the unique needs of organisers and event goers in each market, which included integration of preferred payment methods and the development of locally relevant content.  Eventbrite is now a global company with 500 employees, 7 countries and on 4 continents, serving hundreds of thousands of event organisers worldwide, who rely on us to help them sell their experiences to tens of millions of active consumers.

What obstacles, if any, did you have to overcome with global growth?

For us we have always been very focused on making sure that the alignment of international offices goes beyond business goals, and cultivating a collaborative team culture is at the heart of this.  Part of our approach here is to have weekly, very open, update calls for all teams around the world, with the founders and management of the company joining and answering every question asked. Everyone is encouraged not to hold back and to ask whatever is on their mind.

How can a new online business stand out from the crowd?

By offering a unique service or product that is unlike anything else out there and that solves a genuine problem. Good, friendly and personal customer service is something that isn’t widely associated with online businesses, but it’s an important investment. Happy customers will be your best advocates.

If you had one piece of advice for anyone thinking of starting their own online business – what would it be?

Apart from having a viable business model from day one (!), you really need to invest the time in finding a suitable co-founder(s) with complementary skills. In my view this is probably one of the most important things; founding a company is incredibly hard and straining and it’s good to find a partner who can help you weather through the hard times and celebrate with in the good times.

Eventbrite Logo

Join Renaud, Ning Li (Co-Founder and CEO of and Justine Roberts (Founder and CEO of Mumsnet) at Inspiring Entrepreneurs, Internet Icons on the 29 February. 


27 January 2016

Top 5 tips for pitching with confidence

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Elaine Powell

Pitching, like presenting, is an art form. It allows you to stand out from the crowd and get the right people excited about your business. In order for any business to thrive and grow, it is essential that you are able to deliver a pitch about who you are and what problem you solve.

Whether you are networking, seeking potential investors, customers or business partners, excelling at pitching will enhance any business. I’ll be at the British Library Business & IP Centre this February showing you how to perfect your business pitch but, ahead of that, here are five tips that I hope will help you get started:

1. Do your research

Know about your market in great detail.  Who are your competitors? What is your unique selling point? Who are you pitching to? What are their problems? What are they looking for? Know the answers to these questions and address them during your pitch to show that you have done your homework.  Most importantly, consider what the benefits are to those listening. What is in it for them?

2. Keep it simple

Like presenting, a simple structure enables you to deliver without notes and to come across as natural. It also enables the listeners to follow your pitch with ease.  

3. Show your passion

Don’t hold back. Show us how passionate you are about what you are doing.  People really do love enthusiasm.  It’s infectious.  Obviously your content needs to hit the right spot as well but ‘people buy into people’, so be alive with your passion and speak from the heart.

4. What problem do you solve?

Be really clear on what problem you solve. What makes you the right person to solve it? What makes you unique and why can nobody else do it the way you do it? When you make a contribution to the world, the world contributes back, so be really clear about how you will make a difference.

5. Practice, practice, practice

Lastly, practice your pitch and get feedback.  This is essential.  You want to know if it is easy to listen to and if you addressed the most relevant points.  Did you manage to deliver the pitch in an engaging and confident manner?  Will they be convinced that you have the solution to the problem and that you are the right person to deliver whatever it is you are offering? 

If you want to find out more about what makes a great pitch come along to Pitching with Confidence at the British Library and remember ‘you always get what you pitch for’.

Elaine Powell is a professional speaker, public speaking coach, storyteller, author and has trained 15,000 people and run over 500 workshops in the art of effective communication.  CEO of SWC Training and Consultancy, a business that equips startups, business owners and entrepreneurs with the confidence and skills necessary to become masterful in presentation skills, business pitching, storytelling and effective communication. 


25 January 2016

Speed mentoring tips

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Speed mentoring events can provide an excellent opportunity for you to ask seasoned experts your burning questions. This February we will be hosting a digital inspired speed mentoring session for those of you in need of boosting your online presence.

Sam Lane Photography

‘How does it work?’ I hear you ask. Well, it’s simple really. Similar to speed dating you find yourself a seat at a table and move to another table when the bell rings. Unlike speed dating, however, you will be at a table with an experienced mentor, rather than a potential suitor, as well as other small business owners like you and you probably won’t go home with a hot date!

Here’s the thing – your time at each table with each mentor is short and like speed dating you need to ask the right questions in order to find serendipitous success. If done well, you can get some solid advice from those who have been there and done it. You can also make new connections that will be invaluable for your business’s future.

Here are our top tips for making the most out of your speed mentoring experience:

1. Research the mentors in advance

Speed mentoring events will usually have a theme or topic such as: getting your business online, how to run a food business, making and designing, publishing online, exporting, inventions advice, marketing, intellectual property, etc.  You will probably have signed up based on the theme that most suits your needs. But take a deeper look at who the mentors are. They are usually listed on the events page online.

Some of the mentors you may be familiar with, others not so much. Do a quick Google search on each of the mentors and make a note on their background, past experience and area of expertise. Maybe one of the mentors has worked with similar businesses to yours. Maybe another has had to overcome a problem like the one you are having. Knowing each mentor’s strengths will allow you to plan your time at the session. However, the great thing about speed mentoring is that you will get to talk to all of the mentors at the event.

Speed mentoring 2
Sam Lane Photography

2. Prepare questions

Once you have researched the mentors, you should then make a short list of questions for each of them. As the time at each table is limited, and you will have other people also asking questions, make sure your questions are specific, concise and relevant to that particular mentor. Cut to the chase – this is your opportunity to ask a burning question so no need to beat around the bush.

Speed mentoring 4
Sam Lane Photography

3. Get a plan of action together

Now you know who the mentors are, you know which ones you need to desperately talk to and you know what you are going to ask them. If there two or three of the mentors who you want to talk to more than others, plan to sit with them at the start of the session when both of you have the most energy. You may be tired by the end, so ask your most important questions to the most relevant people at the start. This also allows you to go back to that person at the end of the event if you forgot to ask them something or need further clarification.

Speed mentoring 5
Sam Lane Photography

4. Bring your business cards

Not only will you get the chance to meet some influential business mentors but you will also have the opportunity to network with like-minded peers. We know that running your own business can often be a lonely pursuit, so don’t miss the chance to make some new connections with people on the same path as you.

Speed mentoring 6
Sam Lane Photography

5. Show and tell

We encourage attendees to bring examples of their products or designs, assuming they are not too big! Showing off your work to mentors enables them to see what you are working on. Giving someone a sample or prototype to hold in their own hands, can allow the mentor to make a true emotional connection with a physical example of your business. It will also be good experience for pitching your product to investors. If your business is online, bring a tablet or laptop so you can take the mentors through your online platform.

Speed mentoring 1
Sam Lane Photography

This might sound like a lot of work, but speed mentoring events are inspirational and a lot of fun. You can meet guiding lights in your industry and become motivated to take your business to the next level.

Our next speed mentoring event will take place in the Business & IP Centre on 24 February 2016. Sign up now to receive advice from experienced mentors on boosting your business online.


Diane Kelly on behalf of the Business & IP Centre