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Hubvine: behind the scenes of an Austin tech startup

When something is called a “soul sucking job,” entrepreneurs’ ears perk up and they see a need for a widespread solution which is how event promotion tool Hubvine was born, right in the heart of Texas.

Solving the event promotions conundrum

Anyone that has ever planned an event, be it for a small group or an entire convention, knows that updating endless websites and social networks with event information is a tremendous hassle, and many have stepped up to bat trying to solve the problem, but Hubvine founder, Matthew Parente saw a gap in services and began building a product to answer consumers’ needs.

The company says that what once would have taken you hours now takes only minutes. Instead of having to write up an event description and complete a new web form for every event calendar and website you want to submit your event to, Hubvine gives you one web form to fill out and can automatically update your own website, your blog, your Facebook page, and more, all from one event entry.

How Hubvine was born: avoiding a “soul sucking” job

Parente tells AGBeat that the inspiration behind Hubvine was actually his own experience having to promote events throughout his marketing career. “One of the worst tasks I had to perform while promoting these events was getting the events on various calendars. I’d have to write a new event description for every calendar, go through a new submission process every time, and jump through seemingly random and arbitrary hoops just to get my event on someone’s calendar.”

“Promoting events online is one of those tasks that I would make up excuses or find other things to do so I wouldn’t have to do it,” Parente added. “And then I found out I wasn’t alone. After talking about it with some marketing and PR friends, I found out that this task was one of the all-time worst tasks, and as one person described it, a ‘soul-sucking’ job.”

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How was the team formed? A classic “girl next door” tale

Parente calls the formation of their team a “girl next door” tale, but in Hubvine’s case, the girl is male. Co-founder Geneva Sampson oversees the company’s operations and along with a handful of advisors, at conception, the team set out to determine what Hubvine needed to be. “Geneva and I worked together at a previous company, so we had mutual respect for each other’s abilities and what we brought to the table. I bring a strong marketing background to the team, having served as the director of marketing for a couple of software companies in town, as well as serving as a product manager. Geneva is fantastic at keeping us on task and making sure we keep our eye on the ball.”

The company first determined that they needed a technical co-founder, and like many startups, Parente admits that they did not have a real understanding of their technical needs or even how to evaluate someone for the role, so they brought in Robert Gonzalez who the two had also worked with at a previous company. Gonzalez was not available as a co-founder as he was “super busy as a highly sought-after back-end developer at many of the Austin interactive agencies.”

Nonetheless, Gonzalez helped the company understand the capabilities of the various candidates and how they would fight in with what Hubvine had planned, and through the process, Gonzalez became deeply involved in helping focus the company, and it quickly became evident that he was the best fit for the role. “And that’s how we got together with the technical co-founder next door.”

What keeps a co-founder up at night

Every small business owner or startup founder has their fair share of worries. Parente told us that what keeps him up at night is Hubvine’s development cycle, which he says is an involved process for the company.

“Plancast has a well-documented case about the problems companies like us have with being a service provider around events. A lot of what was brought out in that open letter is true – and more. What we’ve learned is that virtually everyone has a different opinion of what a calendar should be and how it should work. It’s incredibly challenging.”

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Parente continued, “So we work hard at trying to find solutions for specific groups and then move on from there, which is loaded with its own issues – we don’t want to be bloated with features that some might find frivolous or – at worst – useless. We spend a lot of time listening to our customers, but we also are careful not to fall into the trap of what Henry Ford famously stated, ‘If we listened to our customers, we’d have made faster horses.’ And because there’s so much ambiguity around what calendars and event promotion should be doing, this is an incredibly easy trap to fall into.”

A wholesome company philosophy

In that spirit, the company says they are continuing to work on features to help communities promote their events and is launching an initiative to equip select non-profits with their technology.

Parente outlines the company’s philosophy, noting that “So many communities are ‘best kept secrets’ or there are training events or resources available to the community put on by various organizations that are ‘hidden gems.’ We see that as a back-handed compliment. We really want these incredible resources and events to widely recognized for what they bring.”

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  1. Chris R.

    April 9, 2012 at 3:20 am

    What happened to Adam Morehead? I thought he was a co-founder too –

    • Matthew Parente

      April 11, 2012 at 11:27 am

      Adam was definitely part of our early team and was part of our search for the technical co-founder. Most recently, he’s been heavily involved with his Legion Firearms.

  2. Matthew Parente

    April 9, 2012 at 1:50 pm

    Thanks for a great interview!

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