I just started my startup so why would I pivot?


Anyone who has founded a startup can tell you. It’s a roller coaster.  Expect the unexpected.  Make a plan B, and C and probably D too.

One of the most critical skill sets for a startup founder is agility. It can be difficult, especially when you’ve poured your heart and soul and personal savings into your big idea. But often times, the most successful founders are the ones who were willing to make necessary adjustments, either in the product or the business model. This is the pivot.  This is the moment when you acknowledge and act to chart a new course.  So how do you know when it’s time to pivot?

There’s no perfect answer, but conducting a bit of market and competitor research will often reveal important pivot points.  Most pivots arise from gaining a piece of competitive intelligence that invalidates a prior assumption. For example, have you made assumptions about your market size being larger than it really is? Have you made assumptions about the age or habits or disposable income of your buyers? Have you made assumptions about the likelihood of being granted a patent?

Here are three real life examples we’ve seen recently:

1.     The founder made an assumption that her customers would be predominantly Millennial generation because the product would be sold through online channels. After we researched her market segment, we learned that in fact, buyers in this category of ecommerce were almost evenly split between Millennials, GenX-ers and Baby Boomers.  The research opened up two entirely new verticals to market towards and provided more detailed definition to the market size.

2.     The founder made an assumption about the most compatible retail outlet for his product, a “fit food”.  When we researched the market segment, we could see that the grocery market was saturated, but the open opportunity was distribution through sporting goods stores. The likelihood of capturing market share was far greater with the less obvious channel partner.

3.     The founder made an assumption about the adoption of his product by government agencies as the primary sales channel.  However, the research showed the inefficiency of landing contracts with those agencies in relation to the sales pipeline necessary to hit investor growth targets. The decision was made to pivot to private contractors for the initial go-to-market strategy and develop a secondary long play for government agencies.

In each of these cases, the research invalidated an assumption the founder had made regarding his or her market segment or primary buyer.  But by analyzing and accepting the research, each was able to make a critical pivot to their startup and undoubtedly improved their chance of success.

7 Ways to Perfect Your Pitch

After attending several Demo Day pitches and tuning in for countless hours of “Shark Tank”, we’ve noted seven ways entrepreneurs can perfect their pitches.


  1. If your idea purports to solve a problem for the consumer, make sure there’s actually a problem to be solved. Remember when Joey Tribbiani filmed an infomercial about pouring milk (“You're the guy who doesn't know how to pour milk!”)? Consumers aren’t going to spend money if they don’t view your product as solving a problem they actually have.

  2. Pick your team’s best presenter to give the pitch. It may well be that your Founder & CEO is the most passionate about your idea, but are they the best speaker? You’ve only got a few seconds before you lose the audience, so pick someone on your team who is comfortable, charismatic, and well spoken in front of a crowd.

  3. Get to the point. About that few seconds you have before you lose the audience, make sure you aren’t being so clever with your open that you forget to tell people what it is your company does.

  4. Don’t let the demo take over. If you are going to demonstrate your product, be careful. Practice in front of folks. Can they see what you’re doing? What about far away in an auditorium. Can you demo with one hand and a mic? Maybe you really just need to tell people about the product in the demo and let them see the product close up later in person or on your website.

  5. Spelling counts. Even if you’ve double and triple checked your presentation, get a few more pairs of eyes to make sure it’s perfect. We recently watched a pitch with a glaring spelling mistake. Not only were there only three words on the slide, the misspelled word was core to their business. Careless errors on a presentation will make investors and customers wonder if you’ll be careless with their money, their privacy, or the quality of your product or service.

  6. Do your research. Make sure you know who your competitors and customers are. Acknowledge your competition and what makes your product or service different. Everyone has a competitor! Make sure you have an understanding of who your customers are and how many of them you can really reach.

  7. Do more research.You also need to know the investors you’re trying to reach. You don’t want to present your idea for the best new e-commerce solution to a firm who typically invests in energy or logistics.


If those last two scare you the most, let us help you with research. Bizologie can help you define your Total Addressable Market (TAM), find your competitors, and help you understand your potential investors.