Pivots are far more common than most founders think. Over half of YC companies pivot. Many well-known startups have executed pivots to great success:
Twitch: live streaming → broadcasting gamers → $1b acquisition
Segment: classroom lecture tool → data integration → $3b acquisition
Brex: VR → corporate credit card → $7b valuation
With my last startup, I went through 4 to 5 pivots before landing on a product that was acquired by Microsoft. The overnight success is often 10 years in the making.
If you’re going to pivot, here’s how to do it successfully.
Part 1: Prepare for the pivot
Coming up with new ideas is non-linear; you can't think harder to get to a better idea faster.
Expectation: If you sit around, amazing new ideas will come.
Reality: It's a full-time job to come up with an idea to which you want to devote your next decade.
Your first step is to come to terms with this fact and know that it can be incredibly frustrating for high-achieving founders to feel like they are spinning in circles.
Give yourself the time and space to ideate.
Be prepared to make tough decisions
You’re going to have to make some hard decisions here.
You might shift focus away from a market you've invested a lot of time in. That might mean letting go of teammates who no longer bring a relevant skillset to the table.
You may have to give up on tech that you’ve spent a lot of time (and money) building and really believed in. Don’t get sucked into the sunk cost fallacy. If the opportunity is no longer there, move on.
You have to make the tough calls to stay alive, and you’re going to have to have some tough conversations.
Telling your investors
Advise your investors early of your intention to pivot.
This might be daunting, but keep in mind that most early-stage investors expect pivots. Their bet is on founders, not just ideas.