When a founder, founders decide to kick start a start-up, it is axiomatic that they agreed on a unify vision about what they will start their journey with. The roadmap must be clear for the (product, service) they will provide. However, many plans could be change after kicking start operations. Here we will face a “Pivot”.

“Pivot” is a popular term in the start-up world. If their initial idea doesn’t work as planned, entrepreneurs are expected to be ready to pursue a Plan B.

As Jacqueline Kirtley (A Wharton management professor) said: The use of the word as a specifically entrepreneurial term comes from Eric Ries and Steve Blank’s books on what’s now referred to as the “Lean Start-up Movement.” They talk a lot about how you can use basically the scientific method — making hypotheses about what’s going on in your entrepreneurial firm — because there’s so much uncertainty for entrepreneurs. They suggest that you can think about explicit hypotheses about what you’re doing, and then test them.

And when you test those hypotheses, they either get validated or they don’t. And if you look at what the Lean Start-up Movement is saying, when your hypotheses are not valid — are not shown to be accurate — you should change. You should pivot your strategy and create new hypotheses and test those. And that’s where the word “pivot” came into entrepreneurship — this very specific methodology. But it has been picked up by everybody and their brother, and it’s not used that precisely anymore. Now it is used by anybody who wants to talk about how we’ve changed — we’ve pivoted, we’ve pivoted our strategy.

On the other hand, Pivot in start-ups can be a shift in different aspects like:

1-     Target customer.

2-      Market segment.

3-      Business model.

4-      Distribution channel.

5-      Pricing strategy.

6-      Or overall industry.

One of the most famous start-ups pivoting examples is Twitter. (Jonathan Richter the CEO of Winnona Partners) wrote about this a previous article and said: 

Twitter has established itself as the dominant social network for relatively short, up-to-the-minute news updates, so much so that often times tweets will show up as the top result on Google when searching for a current event.

Twitter started out as a Web site called Odeo, intended as a place where people could download podcasts from all over the world.

However, as Odeo struggled to keep its head above water and retain users, Odeo founders (including Noah Glass and NYU undergraduate at the time Jack Dorsey) came up with a rough idea of an individual using an SMS service to communicate with a small group.

They called the limited micro-messaging service “twttr” before purchasing the full domain name for “Twitter” six months later.

After a successful showing at the 2007 South by Southwest Interactive event which created a surge in tweets (from 20,000 to 60,000 tweets per day), Twitter took off.

Twitter went public on 11/7/2013 at a price of $23 per share, solidifying it as one of the best examples of a tech pivot in history.

In Salasil Solutions LTD; we changed our direction from offering an educational platform (Learning management System “LMS”) since it was an extremely red ocean to focus in providing specific educational authoring tools.  We started with Salasil Desktop; our video authoring and live broadcasting tool. As we found this gap in the ed-tech market at our region (MENA & GCC). So, we focused in providing simple yet advanced tool to empower educators creating and publish educational video content and live explanations as well. With clear roadmap and validated business model. With actual revenue stream from this product.

At the end; entrepreneurs must realise that they need to pivot in the right time. Otherwise; shutting-down start-up will be more reasonable to save time, effort and money, since many investors prefer not to invest in pivoted start-ups and advise founder to shut it down and kick start a new business again.  

 Mouneer Alnouri

Founder/ CEO – Salasil Solutions LTD.