Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Don Burks, Co-Founder of Plainstage, located in Vancouver, BC, Canada.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

Our business is making event ticketing as simple, affordable, and convenient as possible.

Tell us about yourself

I'm a software leader with almost 25 years in the industry. Having worked for both enterprise-level companies such as Amazon and Microsoft and barebones startups, which began in someone's basement, I have a strong appreciation for what it takes to deliver a product to market. I've learned from some of the smartest people I could have the privilege of working with, and that has taught me some best practices for delivering something into my customer's hands that makes a tangible difference in their life.

The idea for Plainstage was born, as many great ideas are, out of frustration with existing products in the marketplace. And a few margaritas. My co-founder and I were having dinner at a Mexican restaurant and complaining about the fees which were eating into the profits of independent artists' shows. The question was asked, "How hard is it to build a ticketing platform?" And in a flash, I could see all the moving parts. I sketched out the initial system design on the back of a napkin and started building it a week later.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

Our initial soft launch for our first two events went quite smoothly. There was only one extra ticket sold. Otherwise, the system performed quite well. From that event, we signed our first venue to exclusively use Plainstage.

What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?

I would say one of the hardest things about being a business owner is avoiding the urge to chase every good idea. I like to believe that the five most dangerous words in product development are "Wouldn't it be cool if...?" The answer is always yes. But if you say yes to every one of those, you will never get anything shipped. Focusing on what I know is going to solve my customers' problems is a constant discipline.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. Figure out why someone benefits from using your product. Don't just build something you think is cool, build something that genuinely addresses a need or desire. Without that motivation to actually pay for what you're offering, customers will never adopt.
  2. Understand that products don't fail, teams do. If Pet Rock could make a million dollars, your product could be successful as well. Staff your team with driven, capable, committed people. They are what is going to make your product succeed, not your force of will.
  3. Wallets are more important than eyeballs. There's a mentality that if you can put your product in front of enough people, success is guaranteed through sheer numbers alone. However, if you forget the first piece of advice I gave, then all the eyeballs in the world won't save you. Wallets create success and empower you to grow. Not eyeballs.

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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