US web firm expands into Europe with Compu b 

San Francisco start-up chooses Compu b as its one-stop hardware provider

There was nothing particularly unusual about someone coming into Compu b’s Dublin store to buy a couple of MacBook Air for their office – Ireland’s leading Apple Premium Reseller and Authorised Service Provider has always had corporate clients. More unusual, however, is how a casual shopping expedition evolved into a tightknit business partnership that spans four countries.

Three years on from those first purchases, Compu b provides hardware and support for Eventbrite across Europe and hosts an online retail portal for its customers.

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 Working with them has been a game-changer, whatever we need, they get for us. It’s a great relationship.” 

Andrew Lee, IT Support Manager in Eventbrite’s European HQ in London.

 Eventbrite is one of those smart San Francisco Internet companies that came up with a great idea and sold it to the world. In this case, a self-service ticketing platform. People sign up to create and share events, from music festivals and conferences to charity fundraisers and gaming competitions. The gap in the market was around small events where the web provides the scale to make a ticketing service viable.Julia Hartz, co-founder and CEO of Eventbrite, describes the business as a way to “democratise ticketing”. It’s worked. Since it was founded in 2006 the platform has grown rapidly. Today some four million tickets are processed each month for around two million events across 187 countries.

eventbrite app on apple devices

 

Irish offices

The move into Ireland in 2013 was a significant step for the company, but there was no plan to make local supplier Compu b a key European business partner. So how did it happen? “The relationship went from strength to strength as we delivered on everything we were asked to do,” explained Dara Ó hÉafa, Corporate Sales Account Manager at Compu b. “We have become the go-to-company, not just for Apple equipment but for finding hardware that tackles very specific requirements.”

In the early days it was all about Apple. Standard issue hardware for Eventbrite employees is a 13-inch MacBook Air, monitor, keyboard and wireless mouse. Having kitted out three staff in the Dublin office, Eventbrite was back for more when it opened a customer support centre in Cork – this time with 15 employees. With the new office came different requirements – iPad Minis were added to the shopping list. The tablets are used by support agents for testing the Eventbrite app, for logging visitors in at reception and for booking meeting rooms. Different language versions of the MacBook were needed to cater for the range of nationalities that work in the support centre and handle queries from customers all across Europe. The volume of business with Compu b was creeping up at a time when Eventbrite was starting to re-evaluate its supplier relationships. Andrew Lee had taken over hardware procurement in the central London office and was impressed by Compu b’s professionalism. He was interested in working more closely with the supplier as Eventbrite continued to expand its European footprint.

Single supplier

Lee had been dealing with four different vendors and it was a logistical nightmare. One third-party accessory company in particular had gone through some changes and was proving more difficult to work with. Dealing with Apple directly had been seamless and easy but Lee was looking for a supplier that could work more closely with him. It was time to make some changes. He wanted to replace existing vendors and consolidate the hardware procurement process, ideally with a partner who would take time to better understand the business and provide one-stop support. All of this persuaded him to converge both parts of the business – Apple and non-Apple hardware/accessories – and use Compu b as the single provider for all of Eventbrite’s European offices. Crucial to the move was the fact that Compu b had a London outlet. Eventbrite’s London office and European HQ needed a local supplier. Employing around 40 people, it’s the biggest outside of the US with sales, marketing, legal, facilities and IT personnel. All hardware and support was now the responsibility of Compu b. Next came an office in Berlin where it was even more beneficial to buy kit from Compu b, because new businesses in Germany struggle to get credit from local suppliers. The relationship with Compu b had got to the point where credit on a new account was never going to be a problem. The expansion continued with a fifth European office opening in Amsterdam. Having four suppliers for London alone had shown Lee how multiple relationships can lead to poor service and paying too much. He wanted the European offices to have the consistency of service and single point of contact that Compu b could give them.

Fast turnaround

Compu b has impressed Eventbrite, not just with its competitive pricing but also with its turnaround times. Next day delivery is guaranteed for most newly purchased items and the support service for repairs is equally efficient. If a laptop goes down or a monitor’s cracked, Lee rings it in and a free return service kicks into action before the paperwork is even completed. The kit is back and in full working order two days later. This level of rapport isn’t just confined to repairs. Both companies are people-focussed businesses and speak to each other at least twice a day. Sometimes it’s to flag an upcoming MacBook purchase order; another might be an urgent request for an HDMI cable.

 

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 “It makes life so much simpler if you can just pick up the phone and get things done. I could put a call in on the way to the office, get a quote for a new piece of kit and take delivery of it the next day. I can sort the purchase order out later.  We don’t need the paperwork to get things moving. It’s all about trust and working together in partnership.”

Andrew Lee, IT Support Manager in Eventbrite’s European HQ in London.

 

sample page of evenbrite compu b portal

More hardware

As Eventbrite’s business grew, so did the orders to Compu b.  Other equipment found its way on to the inventory: MacBook to TV connections in meeting rooms were facilitated by Apple TV – the 55-inch monitors also came from Compu b along with wall mounts and network cabling.Different kinds of computer monitors were sourced. The design teams use premium Apple screens, but other makes are bought for employees with administrative roles that don’t need the highest resolution. Special headsets needed to be shipped in from the US for support staff in Cork. Compu b fulfilled all the orders. There were, however, even more niche requirements. Part of Eventbrite’s end-to-end ticketing proposition is an app that can be used on an Apple device to scan in barcodes, feeding the information back into the event database, aligning it to the list of invitees. Customers can do it themselves with a camera on an iPhone or take advantage of dedicated hardware provided by Eventbrite, a Honeywell scanner plugged into an iPod Touch.  “We tested a lot of scanners before we went with the Honeywell,” said Lee. “The problem is that it’s a US product and we didn’t know if there were any distributors in Europe.”He mentioned this to Compu b who contacted Honeywell, found a distributor and sealed a deal to source the scanners. But this was just the starting point.

Compu b set up a dedicated online shopping portal where Eventbrite customers can go and buy all the kit in on place. Compu b built the portal from scratch with its own domain. The site sells the Honeywell scanner in three Apple bundles, one with a 16GB iPod Touch, another with four iPods, four scanners and a charging dock, and lastly, with an iPad Mini and mobile receipt printer.The web portal has increased the synergy between the companies with Eventbrite pushing customers towards the site when they sign them up for their service. 

Partnership approach

The relationship has come a long way from an over-the-counter purchase in the Dublin store. What it highlights is the flexibility and professionalism that Compu b brings to every engagement, and how the company will go out of its way to meet the most specialist demands of its customers, no matter how niche.Compu b’s Dara Ó hÉafa believes the two companies are a perfect fit. “It made sense for Eventbrite to have a one-stop provider that could bring it all together – Apple and third-party accessories – and it’s worked out perfectly for both of us,” he said.Andrew Lee sums up the partnership from his side of the table: “It’s been great for Eventbrite. Compu b is constantly working for us behind the scenes, sourcing kit, the perfect middleman. I never have to chase third-party suppliers, they do that for me; I don’t have to worry that orders won’t turn up on time, they always deliver on their promise.”   

 

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 “It’s been great for Eventbrite. Compu b is constantly working for us behind the scenes, sourcing kit, the perfect middleman. I never have to chase third-party suppliers, they do that for me; I don’t have to worry that orders won’t turn up on time, they always deliver on their promise.” 

Andrew Lee, IT Support Manager in Eventbrite’s European HQ in London.