Q&A 4Her – Elise Whitworth, Founder Of Eventida
Internet marketing guru Elise Whitworth understands that promoting an event is a very necessary, but very time-consuming process for busy professionals. In an effort to help simplify the process, Whitworth has created Eventida, an event promotions app, which allows event hosts to easily create, share, update, and promote their events in one place.
We spoke to Whitworth about Eventida, her goals for the company, how being an entrepreneur has helped her grow as a person, and much more. Read her entire Q&A 4Her interview below!
What is the unique problem or situation your product or service solves?
Eventida is an emerging web app with the goal of making it easier to promote events. Currently, event hosts can post their event and link to their event site – if there isn’t one, they can create an event page – then use the built in social sharing, and encourage their speakers and sponsors to do the same.
There are so many events – it’s hard to manage and prioritize. One often has to manually update their calendars with events, and hosts usually organize information differently, making it time consuming to find information. Imagine managing a whole family’s calendars.
Our site puts the most important information up front and center. Users can save events, reviewing their lists to compare events, make decisions as to what they’re doing that weekend or month.
In our vision, the event host should be able to set ONE place for their event information, and continually update it, with the event information auto-updating in 100+ places across the web. And to have everyone involved with their event also promoting the event using social sharing and embedding the event on their sites. Think YouTube for events.
We are working on adding more useful features – the complete list can be seen at www.fundable.com/eventida.
What in hindsight would you say you underestimated about this particular industry or running your own business and why?
I am more comfortable being a “behind the scenes” person, working with event committees, clients to build their websites, and so on. I never wanted to be that person on stage, on camera, up front and center. I brought in a few people, but it never worked out – they either didn’t really “get it” or would put out inaccurate information.
When you’re starting out with a new vision, YOU are the best person to be out there, talking to people, sharing the vision. I had to step outside of my comfort zone, put myself into the “limelight.” I’ve been spending the last few months doing that – lots of writing, keeping up with social media daily (or trying to, anyway), and making videos – it’s nerve wracking but it’s made an enormous difference. We have had more growth and attention in the last two months compared to the two years we’ve been trying to push Eventida off the ground.
What is the best business related advice you have ever been given?
The best advice I’ve gotten, in a nutshell, was “start simple.” I made the mistake of trying to build too much, too soon – I thought that nobody would want to use Eventida if it didn’t come with all the bells and whistles. It took so long to finish and delayed our launch by a whole year. The worst part is that it used up so much of our resources and funding that we had to put Eventida on the backburner, focus on our web development clients, and regroup.
Early in 2010, I attended a workshop hosted by Freshbooks, where Mike McDermott shared his experience building one of my favorite web apps, Freshbooks, which had grown to over 1 million users in less than six years. He said, “Build the least…you are in a vacuum,” meaning that without users, without feedback and input, we will have no idea what features our users really want or would find useful.
“Conventional wisdom says that to beat your competitors you need to one-up them. If they have four features, you need ﬁve (or 15, or 25)….. So what to do then? The answer is less. Do less than your competitors to beat them. Solve the simple problems and leave the hairy, difficult, nasty problems to everyone else. Instead of one-upping, try one-downing. Instead of outdoing, try underdoing,” Jason Fried wrote in his book, Getting Real – one of the founders of 37Signals and Basecamp, serving millions of users.
In the summer of 2010 I tossed out everything and started from scratch, rebuilding a much more simple version.
What were the hardest barriers in getting your idea off the ground?
I hate to say it – I usually avoid mentioning it, especially in this context – the biggest barriers I’ve faced is due to the fact that I am deaf. With the industry I’m in, building relationships is critical.
Deafness is a communication barrier – I can’t just pick up the phone and call people, chat with them and show my personality, passion for what I’m doing. To hear their tone and sense whether they are engaged and truly interested or whether it’s not the right person to be talking to and move on. There are great services that help, relay companies that have interpreters but it’s not the same – tone gets changed, misunderstandings happen.
Many entrepreneurs rely on networking groups, going to events and building relationships, workshops by experts. These events typically don’t have the funding to provide interpreters, and as a start-up we can’t afford it either (they typically charge $40-120 per hour) — and again, it’s still a barrier even with interpreters – tone gets lost, misunderstandings happen.
What do you enjoy best about being an entrepreneur?
I love having the freedom to be there for my family, to work from home and not have other people take care of my kids until evening everyday. I also especially love the creative freedom I have, to not have to deal with bureaucracy or workplace politics, to do business by my code of values and ethics.
Do you feel becoming an entrepreneur has helped you grow as a person? If so – how?
Definitely! Wow, the list is long. Over the last 10 years, I’ve learned so much about human dynamics, how people think differently, how perceptions and misconception affect how they react or feel about things.
I’ve gone through it all, from highs to lows; being a success, feeling like a failure, getting complimented on being great at everything I do, wondering if I’m a lousy leader, wondering if I should give up and get a 9 to 5 job, being stubborn and persistent.
Being an entrepreneur has made me explore every fiber of my being, who I am, who I want to be, to strive to improve in every area, to become aware of and accept my strengths and weaknesses.
Where can people learn more about your company?
If you had to share one final thought with our audience of thousands of women in business – what would it be?
If you really want to see more growth and features on Eventida, please pledge your support on our crowdfunding campaign!
Pledge rewards include one year subscriptions, t-shirts, company name and logo on our “Founders” page. www.fundable.com/eventida (until Dec 5)