What does failed pivot mean?

Failed pivot is when a company went through not one major pivot, but several pivots and still failed to find product-market fit.

For example, companies who pivoted may discovered that their product was priced incorrectly, or if they realised that their target customers or users need to change, or the feature set was wrong, or they need to “repackage” a monolithic product into a family of products, or they chose the wrong sales channel, or their customer acquisition programs were ineffective.

Another common mistake entrepreneurs made was that they changed and/or reconfigured the product and technology without truly understanding who their customer was.

According to Selcuk Atli (Venture Partner of 500 Startups), entrepreneurs should start with the customer and problem. Companies should not focus too much on marketing before you nail the customer, problem and solution.

This is because pivoting is complex as it usually involves a series of experiments across customers, problem, product, technology, and growth channels.

This is why Selcuk Atli believed that pivoting can be efficiently conducted through the “startup pivot pyramid”, a methodical guide for entrepreneurs to run experiments across their entire business to achieve radical growth.


Definition of pivot

Pivot in a product management context may refer to a shift in the strategic direction of the business.

Usually the decision to pivot a product is the result of competitive changes, new findings about the market, or shortcomings in the original strategy.

According to Steve Blank, a pivot is a substantive change to one or more of the nine business model canvas components.

A pivot may mean you changed your customer segment, your channel, revenue model or pricing, resources, activities, costs, partners, customer acquisition — lots of other things than just the product.


Return to Glossary of business failures or read "Failure to Deliver".

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Last edited on 10 December 2019.