Willie Litvack, 29
Title: Chief executive and co-founder
Company: SquadUp Inc. in Koreatown provides a platform for event hosting and invites.
Financials: SquadUp has raised roughly $2 million in venture capital and is projecting about $70 million in gross ticket sales for the full year 2019.
What led you to start this business?
As a senior at Duke University, I definitely had too much time on my hands. Along with a couple of friends, I was promoting live shows in nontraditional venues in Durham. We looked around at the available suite of self-service ticketing products and were largely unhappy with what we saw. We hacked together a simple solution to support our own events. After graduating, this rinky-dink little product had actually picked up some traction, principally on college campuses. I grabbed my buddy who helped me build the product, and we started to think more deeply about ticketing. We came up with an underlying thesis that the space lacked a truly mobile-first, white-label solution for ticketing, event management and audience engagement. From there we went to work!
How did you fund it, and how are you funding it going forward?
We’ve raised about $2 million in venture capital from funds and high-net-worth individuals. The business has been profitable for the last three years, and so far this year we’ve grown by more than 75%. Growing like that strictly off of free cash flow is impressive, and we’re not settled one way or another on whether we’ll raise additional capital. We don’t need more money, but if the right strategic partner emerges it’s something we’ll definitely consider.
Are there advantages/disadvantages to starting a business in your 20s, and if so, what are they?
The primary advantage of starting a business in your 20s is that you have the ability to take risks. Without kids or a mortgage, your personal financial needs are somewhat limited. That freedom gives you the ability to think long term about wealth creation and frees you up to take shots on net. Amongst the disadvantages is the fact that you’re young and inexperienced. Not only are you blazing new trail, but you’re doing it without any real experience to fall back on.
Where do you go for advice regarding your business?
We’ve built an amazing team and an amazing network of advisers. My board of directors is incredibly supportive and has been a great sounding board for business decisions. Also, most importantly, my father is also an entrepreneur. With a normal adviser, you really can only speak to them once or twice a week. My dad has no problem with me calling him several times a day. It’s great to have that type of relationship where you deeply trust someone, and you have the ability to be in constant communication.
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