I caught up with Sam Collins, co-founder of Eventasaurus - A dashboard for event managers which connects all of your social networks and events platforms.
Hi Sam, How are you doing, great to have you on YHP?
Thanks for having me!
Could you quickly give us some background information about yourself?
I’m co-founder and ‘Chief Product Nerd’ (read: CEO) at this awesome new startup called Eventasaurus (http://eventasaur.us).
My background is pretty varied: I’m Irish but I moved to the UK to study Civil Engineering at University of Edinburgh. I specialised in Fire Science Engineering and my masters thesis involved flying to Machu Picchu, Peru to burn down full-scale hotel bedrooms. No joke. During my degree I worked full-time at a couple of startups and ended up starting TechMeetup.co.uk. By the time I graduated I knew I was more interested in making products than designing skyscrapers so I never took a graduate job and instead started my own company. That’s where I’m at now.
How did you get involved in entrepreneurship? Were you exposed to entrepreneurship as a child?
Yeah I guess, though I don’t think I ever heard the word until a few years ago. My father set up his own accountancy firm and my eldest brother has built and sold a couple of games startups. I was probably exposed to the idea that there are more paths than just the normal idea of a professional career. I remember some guys in my year at university thinking I was crazy for not even applying for graduate positions - there is a notion that ‘this is the done thing’ and it’s about how well you can score on that one route. I don’t really buy that. I’d rather see what I can do myself.
So tell me about Eventasaurus and how the idea came about?
Well I woke up in the night and I had this idea right... No not really, we basically failed for almost a year to solve this problem and built and tested about five different products. We did a bunch of stupid things but also learned quite fast from our failures. In the end, we had learned so much about the space and the industry that we started to see the problem more realistically and then Eventasaurus just made a lot of sense.
What is Eventasaurus and how does it work?
Eventasaurus allows event organisers to manage their events across multiple social networks all from one dashboard - offering features like automatic event creation across social networks, real-time commenting across event pages and gathering your attendees from multiple event websites. Both founders are event organisers and we know how much manual work still goes into running an event so we really think Eventasaurus can reduce a lot of it.
What is your business model?
We acknowledge that there are great services and tools available for event organisers (e.g. Eventbrite is an incredible ticketing platform) but in the process of running an event, you need several of these different tools and services. Our business model is a claim that event organisers will pay for a dashboard that combines all of these tools together in one place, saving time and increasing efficiency while also creating new value for the event organisers by extracting meaningful business intelligence from the combined data (from all of these tools).
Note that we aren’t building each one of these tools - we know there are companies out there dedicated to each of part of the event organisers journey - and they do a much better job of those products than if we tried to build every one of them together. So instead, we pick the best tools and do deep API integrations into our dashboard. Customers use their own Facebook, Eventbrite accounts (etc) but they’re connected through Eventasaurus.
We don’t do anything clever with revenue models - we simply charge for the service. We provide a zero-cost free plan for not-for-profits and event organisers with small (or no) budgets and who need help managing social network distrubution. Otherwise it’s a monthly subscription for using the more powerful features and getting insights into your events.
How did you initially attract users to Eventasaurus, and how do you do it now?
We know a lot of event organisers, since we organise events ourselves, and that got us started in the early feedback stages. When we were done prototyping, we spoke with some journalists in the space, they liked what we were doing and wrote about us. That got the ball rolling.
What makes Eventasaurus different from any service out there? What problem does it solve?
Well, nothing else really does this right now. There’s a lot of social-media dashboards out there (e.g. WildFire, BuddyMedia) but none of these are aimed at event organisers or provide event functionality so we do that.
If you speak with anyone who organises events - they’ll tell you what a nightmare it is trying to do all of this work manually.
You can do some incredibly useful things with Eventasaurus like: create events across social networks automatically, sync and download your attendees (rsvps) and engage in real time across your event pages. Without Eventasaurus, if you needed to update your event - you’d be logging into all of the different websites and updating each one manually. When you’re running an event, time is always short - so having a cute dinosaur do this for you is a big relief. It’s pretty smart, saves a ton of time, and nothing else so far is doing this.
What are the most crucial things you have done to grow your business?
Focus on creating value for our customers and ignoring everything else.
What was the most challenging part of starting the business?
Probably finding the right person to start it with. That took a while.
Would you say the business has changed from the first initial idea?
Ha - yes. It changes pretty much every month.
Who are your competitors?
What were you doing before you founded Eventasaurus?
Writing my thesis on burning down hotels in Peru, running TechMeetup in three cities, and designing interfaces and marketing strategies at Loc8 Solutions.
How have you been able to fund the business?
I took a loan in the first place. I invested it all in the business. Then I got some angel investors. Then I got some more. Now we make money.
What can we be expecting from your company in 2012?
Big exciting stuff. Can’t talk about it yet, sorry! But expect us to focus relentlessly on creating new value for event organisers.
What three pieces of advice would you offer entrepreneurs starting out today?
1. Focus on creating new value for people, if you’re not creating new value - stop and change because it won’t last. Read ‘The New Capitalist Manifesto’ for more understanding about what I mean by ‘value’.
2. Make up your own idea about the world - don’t try and learn it from reading TechCrunch.
3. Drink less alcohol and more coffee.