Proceed or Pivot?:

by on February 27th, 2012

There’s a new word in the startup world today. That word is catching fire like burning sticks in a hot field. A it’s being thrown around more than any other word I’ve heard all year. And not just in business school but also more broadly now. In fact I even heard an undergrad senior use it today. Drum roll please … that word is. That word is Pivot.

So what does the word Pivot mean in the startup world? In short, it means to change direction. More specifically, to make a structured course correction with a business idea, and then to test a new hypothesis or new business model to see if it works better.

You usually pivot because your current idea isn’t working. Or because you got bad customer feedback. Or because someone else beat you to the punch with the old idea.

When this happens entrepreneurs ask, are we going the right direction? Is there still a market? Should we continue and persist with our old idea? Or do we need to change? And if they change (in a semi-organized way), then that is a pivot.

In my NUvention class, the word pivot comes up in every single class. Multiple times.  Annoyingly so actually.  But the idea in class is that we are continuously learning. And that the more we learn about the industry and our product, the more we can refine our idea and make it more compelling and that could take us in a new direction.

My NUvention project team decided to take a pretty large pivot when we changed products early in the class. It was a lot of work up front because we had to analyze a new market, find new customers, and talk to a lot more people. But things are going a lot faster now.

But if you think that sounds like a lot of work, it may have even been worse if we didn’t change (or dare I say, Pivot). If there’s one things I’ve learned, is that’s there’s no worse thing you can do than to make the ill-informed decision to continue onwards, when the goal at hand cannot be attained.

For the current company/project I’m working on, we’re doing a small pivot. And we think it’s far more compelling.  Stay tuned to see if I am right or not.

What about you? Proceed or Pivot. Which one do you choose?

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