#246 - Jonathan Kazarian, CEO of Accelevents - on building a SaaS business with staying power

A story about bootstrapping a business that customers just keep talking about.

This podcast interview focuses on product innovation that has the power to manage events without stress. My guest is Jonathan Kazarian, CEO of Accelevents.

Leave a comment or a question for Jonathan or Ton.


Johnathan is a true tech-entrepreneur‍ on a mission. His journey started in 2014 when his cousin, at the age of 17, got diagnosed with cancer, and he wanted to do something for her. Then, in preparation for an 850-person charity event with the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, he recognized the many limitations of existing event technology and fundraising platforms.

And this sparked the idea to create a solution so fundraisers would never have to go through that experience again.

As such, he founded Accelevents in early 2015 and has been on a journey since to build a virtual & hybrid events platform. Its mission: help event organizers get some sleep the night before their event.

And this inspired me, and hence I invited Jonathan to my podcast. We explore what’s broken in the world of event automation and what can be if it’s fixed. Jonathan shares what his business went through as their revenue 10Xed during the pandemic. He elaborates why he’d bootstrap his business again if he had to start again – and why he believes he should have taken bigger risks upfront on both product and positioning. Lastly, we talk about the critical choices he made during the Pandemic – and why without it, we wouldn’t have had this conversation.

Here’s a quote from him:

I built it nights and weekends for five years before actually going full-time with it. And as 2020 approached, we were much more focused on b2b events and for-profit events, starting to get into the world of conferences and starting to realize that technology was going to play a bigger role going forward. So we were starting to build toward this hybrid future. But it wasn’t until March of 2020, when events evaporated overnight, that we knew we had to go all in on virtual. And we took our revenue from 375k in 2019 to over 3.4 million in 2020.

During this interview, you will learn four things:

  1. How you can create meaningful differentiation by deeply understanding the critical moments in your customers’ business
  2. Why your customers often aren’t buying the right features but the right feeling
  3. What traction can you spark if you figure out how to leverage the customers of your customers
  4. Why he decided to stick to his core principles even though that meant growing at a slower rate

For more information about the guest from this week:

Leave a comment or a question for Jonathan or Ton.

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