Often early product efforts fail and the startup makes a radical change (pivot) into a vastly different market or business. That’s not someone’s fault, it just happens. Often.
Proprietary technology may fail to deliver the power its founders were confident they could deliver. I’ve been there when the touted founder technologist delivered a mere ten percent speed improvement rather than the ten-fold increase that he was confident of achieving. A lot of people were disappointed, but that’s how risks are taken and results are accepted in startup land. No one responded with outrage, instead stakeholders wished it could have been a better outcome, and moved in a fresh direction, greatly modifying the marketing focus of the startup.
Other times customers’ responses to the product launch are very disappointing. Potential customers may be bored by a startup’s first product. I’ve seen a founder hit by shock and depression after months of futilely flogging his new product that turned out to be a dud. He had no managers experienced with startups hitting the wall of product failure. Digging out of the deep emotional hole took nearly a year for that guy.
And a competitor may get too far ahead. I was there when an early competitor (with a product acknowledged by many as inferior) got into the lead, reached its initial public offering first. With the IPO proceeds attacked our smaller startup (who was gobbling up market share with a competing product that wowed everyone) with a blast of (dubious and bogus) patent violation claims. Investors of the sued startup threw in the towel, sold the business to the larger company and walked away with a loss on their investment. The pivot here was sale of the business instead of a patent fight costing millions, taking years, with no certain outcome.
Renting inflatable air mattresses pivoted into Airbnb. Arranging rides for college students going on vacation pivoted into Lyft. Startup managers have guts.
BOTTOM LINE: When a pivot is required, experienced startup builders are able to roll with the ups and downs, are not crushed. They see, decide, pivot and get going, fast, along the fresh trail. Those startup plan executioners will continue to deliver results after the pivot has been made. Every startup needs them.
Part of a series on Startup Managers
- Startup Managers Are Special
- Startup Managers Work in Turmoil.
- Startup Pivot Managers Have Guts
- Startup Recruiting and Organizing
- The Marketable Startup CEO
- The Floundering Startup Founder
- Startup Builders Focus on What’s Important
I wish you The Best on your adventure!