Sara Steele-Rogers Gets to Explore Boston, Professionally

Boston’s Eventbrite marketing manager finds the city’s hidden gems

Eventbrite’s Boston office is stationed in WeWork South Station.
Eventbrite’s Boston office is stationed in WeWork South Station. –EventbriteBoston/Instagram

“I know they have pupusas there, and I want to get one.’’

Sara Steele-Rogers bounded across the street toward Topacio, a Salvadorian restaurant in East Boston with dark red awning. Inside, a few women were hand-rolling pupusas — a traditional Salvadorian pancake with cheese, pork, or refried beans filling — which they sold for $1.50.

Steele-Rogers reached into her pocket for a few bills and snapped several photos of the dish with her iPhone to post on social media later.

“After this, I want to see if we can get a margarita for cheap,’’ she said.

It was a Wednesday afternoon, and Steele-Rogers was on a food crawl, seeing how far $20 can get her in Eastie. She wasn’t playing hooky from work, because this is her job. Steele-Rogers, who is 30, is Eventbrite’s Boston marketing manager, and she gets paid to find hidden gems around Boston.

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Her Eastie food findings will be published on Rally, a new blog Eventbrite is launching to rebrand itself. The San Francisco-based company wants to be seen as not just an events database, but also a destination for people to discover events and live new experiences in their cities. To that end, Steele-Rogers began creating monthly event “guides’’ showcasing restaurants, bars, and experiences to be had in greater Boston. She’s also responsible for making sure all of Eventbrite’s social media bases are covered.

Eventbrite has an international presence and employs a marketing manager in cities like New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, London, Dublin, and Sao Paulo.

For the most part, Steele-Rogers runs a one-woman show for Eventbrite in Boston, with help from a part-time intern. She operates Eventbrite Boston out of co-working space WeWork South Station and her Beacon Hill apartment.

Naturally, in the three and a half years she’s been on the job, she’s gotten to know her way around pretty well. On a good week, she attends two to three events to get her name and face out there, and she’s constantly updating @EventbriteBoston on Instagram and @BriteBoston on Twitter (which both have a photo of her and Keytar Bear as profile pictures) on food deals, speaker and networking events, or the best places in Boston for a cocktail.

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Friends ask her for recommendations all the time, for group dinners, date ideas, or bachelorette party venues. “For better or for worse, people do call me Eventbrite Sara, or have it saved like that in their phones,’’ she said. “I like being associated with that. It’s fun, flattering. It’s a big responsibility to be a face of a brand, and it’s an honor to be that in Boston.’’

Steele-Rogers is originally from Connecticut but has lived in Boston for the past 13 years. She received an undergraduate degree at Suffolk University in 2006 and a graduate degree in marketing at Emerson College in 2010.

She was a marketing intern at Yelp before, which helped her get to know Boston better, and was a social media and marketing manager at Boloco before that. She’s also taught social media at Simmons College and Suffolk University.

So it’s pretty fitting that she found the job opening for Eventbrite on Twitter in the first place. She saw the tweet from @BostonTweet in July 2011 and was intrigued, and after a long interview process, she got the job.

On a daily basis, she now manages up to 10 social media accounts, a mix between those for work, for personal, and her cat, @littlemissmooka. @EventbriteBoston on Instagram and Facebook is smattering of food shots, pictures of events, or landscape shots of Boston, and @BriteBoston on Twitter is a breathless stream of event listings and exclamation marks.

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Steele-Rogers knows Eastie pretty well, but she was also just winging it: no Yelp, no Eventbrite, just strolling down Meridian Street and following her nose.

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“I love going to any neighborhood and just seeing what’s there,’’ she said.

This bodes well for Steele-Rodger’s latest project — seeing what’s in Atlanta, a test market for Eventbrite. She’s been traveling back and forth to increase awareness of Eventbrite down South, but also to see whether the company should open up an office there, similar to the one in Boston.

There was only so much she could do from Boston, and she’s never been to Atlanta. “Some of it was just, ‘once I get there, I’ll figure it out.’’’

In Atlanta, she ended up chatting with a lot of people on the street, networking with influencers, reaching out to co-working spaces, exploring coffee shop and bars, and sang karaoke.

If all goes well in Atlanta, Steele-Rogers will remain based in Boston but will serve as a lead for opening different markets for Eventbrite across the country.

When it’s her job to explore a new city, Steele-Rogers acknowledges that there’s bound to be some blending of her personal and professional lives, and many of the events she attends in Boston interest her personally (like food and drink pairings or fitness classes).

But Steele-Rogers says it’s very important to separate the two.

“I’ve seen way too many people in similar positions as myself who aren’t able to sustain their positions, mainly because they work during the weekends, in the middle of the night, early in the morning, because it’s so ‘easy,’’’ she said.

So she turns to structure.

While she works about 45 to 55 hours a week, she can set her own schedule to create structure: Monday’s for social media, Friday’s for calls with the boss, and flexible projects like food crawls scheduled in between.

Steele-Rogers got pretty far with just $20 in Eastie — a chicken parm sandwich, a cheese-filled pupusa, chips and guacamole, a guava fruit turnover (think pop-tart), and a slice of flan cake — and began to head back to her apartment around 3 p.m.

Her job’s flexible hours are worth a lot to her.

“I’ll get up at 5:30 a.m., do a few hours of work, and hit the gym. I have the luxury to do that, or go to lunch with friends,’’ she said. “The value on having that flexibility is huge.’’

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