Why Startups Make Major Pivots Before They Succeed
What makes you successful tomorrow may look nothing like the product you’re building today
I’ve been an entrepreneur for over 20 years, a founder or leader at 13 startups, and an advisor or consultant for dozens more. When I consider the products and companies that I’ve found success with, and compare the final results to the original idea, I see the same two signals every time:
- The original idea was a winner.
- The way I interpreted, productized, executed, and delivered that idea was nothing like what I had originally imagined when I set out to build a company around it.
While the idea matters, it’s what you do with that idea that makes the difference between success and failure.
The rise of the perpetual pivot
If you ask why companies make major changes to their product on their way from idea to pilot to every subsequent version after that, the short answer is: Because they can.
We live in a time when it’s never been easier to change a product on the fly. Sure, some types of products are easier to re-release to market than others, but it’s not just about the ability to change the product itself. The ways we sell, deliver, use, and respond to products have also seen innovative technical advancements across the board.
That’s the key. Those technical advancements allow any maker of any thing to quickly get information on the success of that thing in the market. Data that used to take weeks or months to compile and analyze now takes seconds ; it can even be analyzed in real time.
One that data is known, the decision to make changes becomes a simple question of math: Stick with the losing horse or pivot and produce a winner?
I’m reminded of that again as I set out to build Teaching Startup. I call this a new venture, even though it’s been around since 2013. This is my third iteration of Teaching Startup. Same idea, but different interpretation, different product, different execution, different delivery.
And thankfully, different result.