Entrepreneurs share about pivoting their company

by | Dec 5, 2020 | Blog

Marja Verbon

Marja Verbon

COO & Founder of Jump

Jump is a talent attraction platform that helps businesses find their ideal candidates quickly and easily.

Before COVID, our clients were exclusively law firms, and the jobs we offered were very white collar/professional services focused.

But when COVID and lockdown hit, many of these firms went on hiring freezes.

Since then we have pivoted to support a huge number of new industries such as logistics and healthcare, and a huge number of new roles, such as forklift drivers and nurses.

We want to help those companies that are currently hiring find the talent they are looking for.

And, for industries like healthcare, their hiring has increased rather than stopped.

We have also made accessing our platform free until January to further help businesses recover from COVID and start thriving again.


Jump

Kim Chan

Kim Chan

Founder & CEO of DocPro

DocPro is a legal tech platform offering free legal documents and resource for individuals, startups and small businesses.

We launched at the beginning of 2020 and have grown traffic 4000% through SEO in 6 months.

As soon as our traffic has slowed and become flat last month, we have decided that it is time to hire a growth manager to help us grow and manage our product market fit.

As we are getting 100k traffic per month, we would like to increase our retention rate as well as seeing if there is any viral growth hacking method we could use.

DocPro

Gillian Fishman

Gillian Fishman

Founder & CEO of Jade

One of the best pieces of advice I received as a founder was to stay open to pivoting.

A mentor told me that identifying pivots early and often is what gives experienced founders the edge over first-time founders.

For that reason, I’ve consciously looked for pivots every step of the way.

Every idea I have about my business is a hypothesis to test. If I discover that the hypothesis is false, I pivot.

My first pivot came within weeks of starting my legal tech company.

I was interviewing lawyers to get initial data about whether they would use my product.

It seemed like things were going well—lawyers resonated with the problem I wanted to solve, and they liked the idea for the product.

At the same time, I was networking with the legal tech community and sharing my idea with other founders. And while lawyers liked my product idea, legal tech founders loved it.

Their enthusiasm blew lawyers’ reactions out of the water. One day it hit me: I’m building a solution for the wrong customer. It’s not lawyers who care about this, it’s legal tech companies.

Identifying the need to pivot is a lot harder than figuring out what to do about it. For me, it was a matter of revisiting my business model and determining how to monetize the solution for a different type of customer. If you test an idea before you act on it, it’s much easier to change your plan—which is why it’s so important to keep an open mind.

People talk about pivoting as if it’s the worst thing that can happen to a startup. In reality, startup ideas are fluid, and pivoting is a sign of progress. It means you’re taking risks, failing fast, and embracing new learning opportunities.

Jade

Daniel Snow

Daniel Snow

CEO and Founder of The Snow Agency

When there are uncertain times, that’s when you as a leader should be asking yourself what can I do to make my business efficient as possible to get through these times, and are there any other opportunities that we can pivot to be able to capitalize on them.

You want to keep an open mind about all of the opportunities that are out there.

You don’t want to miss anything especially if you are going through a hard time.

My vision and purpose are to help small and medium-sized business owners grow their businesses and be successful, with the products and brands that they are really passionate about.

We want to be able to help them achieve the level of success that we have been able to obtain for our own brands.

This is what drives me and my team.

It’s very fulfilling to be able to see these brands grow and be able to employ all sorts of people and see how their products have a positive impact on their customers.

The Snow Agency

Ryll Burgin-Doyle

Ryll Burgin-Doyle

Owner & CEO of Ryll Burgin-Doyle

Knowing when to pivot:

  1. A drop in revenue, for some that drop has been significant… that is, customers and prospects stop buying or are buying far less than previous or indeed want to buy in a different way now.
  2. Feedback from prospects and customers – they will directly or by their behavior, always tell you why they are or why they aren’t doing something. What are they saying to you? Even more, what are their actions telling you? What is their wallet and willingness to spend or not, communicating to you?
  3. Your industry as a whole has been very clearly impacted. And all indications from the powers that be (for example, those very clever economists I mentioned) are clear that your industry will no longer be the same or be hampered for some years to come. At that point, it is time to look further afield.

What should pivoting look like:
The key is to look toward, ask and listen to your target audience – both customers and prospects – the answers on why they’re no longer spending AND critically, what they’re willing to spend and how they’re willing to spend it now. Get interested, stop panicking, and put your attention “over there” with those you want to serve and you’ll get the answers you need to thrive.

Ryll Burgin-Doyle

Frank Oelschlager

Frank Oelschlager

Managing Director of Ten Mile Square

We merged two start-ups to create an advanced business intelligence platform company. We were enjoying early signs of interest from Fortune 500 companies and a few pilot projects.

But repeatable sales weren’t happening. At first, it looked like sales cycles were delayed, but then the forecast started dropping off. One CIO told us they could imagine doing so many things they didn’t know where to start. He didn’t buy. We had a positioning problem with our product.

We tuned up our messaging, built some horizontal solution packs, and renewed our efforts to turn interest into sales. We signed a couple large customers for the complete platform and solutions packs. We were off to the races, or were we…

After these initial successes, sales slowed. No matter how we tried to position the offering as a customizable platform, we had over-corrected and now presented as a COTS solution.

In our efforts to adjust how customers perceived the offering, we started demonstrating the ease of creating custom integrations, data processes, and dashboards. This immediately struck a chord with the market. It turned out that what prospective buyers saw as valuable was the data integration and data fusion capabilities in the system. The market needed the ability to orchestrate data between enterprise systems as a result of activities. Prospects were telling us that they wanted our data engine, not the rest of the platform.


This is when we knew we had to pivot. We changed our focus from being a business intelligence platform to an enterprise data integration platform. We focused our marketing and sales efforts on market segments that had a critical need for integrated data orchestration.

After this, we made 2 different Gartner magic quadrants, won sales against the big tech incumbents, and ultimately got bought by a global ERP company.

Ten Mile Square

Michelle Diamond

Michelle Diamond

CEO of Elevate Diamond Strategy

I was retained by a venture capital firm to evaluate startup companies and make recommendations on where they should invest.

One of the startups was focused on being the next YouTube, but did not have what it took to effectively compete or overtake them.

I gave advice that was given to the CEO of the startup to pivot, as he did not have a viable business model.

They fortunately pivoted to creating online corporate and organization video training and education.

They have now been in business for over 15 years.

Elevate Diamond Strategy

Jay Hsueh

Jay Hsueh

Founder & CEO of Roby

The pandemic has been a driver and catalyst for our business.

We knew we’d be in trouble if we didn’t take immediate action by pivoting our product direction to focus on remote and hybrid teams.

Since we made the decision to pivot in April, we’ve been able to raise funding, grow our team, and develop exciting new features better suited to the market’s changing needs, like Microsoft Teams and Slack integrations that simplify IT support for remote employees and connecting our technology with building automation systems to create touchless office solutions.

Roby

David Ciccarelli

David Ciccarelli

Founder & CEO of Voices.com

We launched Voices.com as an online marketplace that helps business people hire professional voice talent for everything from commercials to phone system recordings and Internet videos.
As we grew, we landed bigger clients and when two large enterprises presented massive deals for us to quote on (which we won), we spun up a new division of the company to complete these projects.

We unintentionally morphed into a professional services firm supported by technology and a team of project managers.
The turning point came during a strategic planning session when we realized how costly this approach to scaling was primarily because a majority of our revenue was coming from our professional services division.

To get back to the basics of operating a technology company, I succinctly named our strategy to be “platform first,” meaning we’d attract customers and onboard them to our platform and in the rarest of circumstances, offer professional services to meet the needs of only the most complex projects.

Now, the company is thriving as we execute our platform first strategy.

Voices.com

About the Community

On the podcast, Sean talks with entrepreneurs about the reality of their struggle to succeed, as well as answering questions from the community, and sharing nuggets of wisdom from his own life.

Discover through these amazing episodes the courage to open your mind, heart, and soul to the world so you can be the best entrepreneur possible, respect the people you work with, and improve the world with your company while not hurting others or yourself in the process.

Sean Weisbrot

Sean Weisbrot

Sean is an entrepreneur, investor, and advisor based in SE Asia for over 12 years. He is passionate about Psychology and helping others improve themselves.

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