Join us as Taku Harada discusses the launching of his brand new startup (Peatix) and some of the challenges he had to overcome.
Q: Please tell us a little bit about your company – what is Peatix all about?
Peatix is an event management and ticketing platform that launched in May of 2011. We are about empowering events – and we’ve empowered over 15,000 of them in 3 years, from meetups of 20 people to music festivals with 30,000 attendees. Peatix offers the lowest ticketing fees in the market at 2.5%, and we are also focused on mobile ticketing.
Q: Please tell us a little bit about your background and how you started your company?
I grew up in New York and Tokyo, and started my career at Sony Music before moving to Amazon’s Japanese subsidiary just as they were launching amazon.co.jp in Japan. That’s where I met my co-founders. We broke off from Amazon and began to help out a number of US startups like bitly and SurveyMonkey launch in Japan, but soon felt the urge to develop a platform service of our own.
We felt that there were a lot of opportunities around live events, and also saw traditional paper ticketing being problematic. We hired a small development team and launched Peatix in 2011, and it’s been growing strong ever since.
Q: What are some of the projects you are working on right now?
We’re very excited about ColorSync , because it’s truly a re-invention of the ticket. We’re also launching a new ad platform that allows sponsors and advertisers to reach attendees of our many events.
Q: What are your plans for the future, how do you plan to grow this company?
We’re going to focus on building an event platform that can be used by anybody for any event, big and small. That means building intuitive self-service tools that can be used with ease by anybody. We’ll also be aggressive with our international expansion.
Q: What were the top 3 mistakes you made starting your business and what did you learn from it?
Listened to individual customers too many times:
People will tell you things if asked. They’ll pull things out of the air and give them to you, along with comments on today’s weather. If you listen to everything and respond to each one, you’re going to lose sight of the big picture. I think it’s much better to observe, look at overall data, and think hard about the common issues that your customers are facing by using your product.
Added too many features:
You should always develop features that impact and will be used by more than 10% of customers. NEVER develop something that will be used by only one customer. Those are the worst. It just clutters your codebase and leads to more issues down the road. Your engineers will hate you for allowing that to happen.
Tried to follow competitors too much:
Obsess over customers, not competitors. By following your competitors and adding features that they have all the time, you end up becoming a second-rate version of that competitor. I think we did this too much in the beginning and lost a lot of time that could have been spent doing things that make us different.
Q: Please share some advice for new entrepreneurs, someone who’s just starting out.
You need to set ridiculously high goals for you and your team. This is because only about 20% of all goals are ever achieved; I don’t know why, but it’s true. So if you set a low or “reasonable” goal, you end up achieving almost nothing.
Also, know that nothing will go as planned, so be mentally prepared for many surprises, both positive and negative. Get ready for a wild ride.
Q: What was the best business advice you have ever received and who gave you this advice?
He probably inserted some expletives in there, but the spirit of these words always stuck with me. It’s so easy to think of a solution or “cool feature” without thinking really hard about the root cause of a problem you’re trying to address and fix. But once you identify the root cause and have that “eureka” moment, you can usually come up with an innovative solution that attacks the problem at its core without resorting to hacks and cover-ups.
Q: What are the top 3 online tools and resources you’re currently using to grow your company?
We’re into asynchronous communication, and recently started to use Slack. There’s more transparency and also more focus and better prioritization within the team. Fewer meetings, too, which is wonderful.
Pivotal Tracker. Enough said.
Amazon Web Services. Again, enough said.
Q: What’s your definition of success?
It’s about improving the lives of your customers with what you provide. I think we’ve improved the lives of 15,000 event organizers, so I already regard ourselves as being very successful.
Q: What are three books you recommend entrepreneurs to read?
I’m sorry, I can’t help you with this since I’ve never read a single business-related book. I’ve tried reading a couple but just can’t seem to get past the first 3 pages without falling asleep. Read a great novel. It will give you many more valuable lessons than a business book talking about stuff that worked for a business other than yours.
Q: What is your favorite entrepreneurship quote?
“It’s still Day One” by Jeff Bezos [Tweet this]
This will always be my favorite quote. I have that Amazon DNA in me after all.
Q: How can our community get in touch with you?