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To Pivot or Not

“All great changes preceded by chaos”

Deepak Chopra

In our previous article, we discussed about MVP, how important it is for a startup and we said that MVP offers the entrepreneur the opportunity to test his product in the market and allows the entrepreneur to pivot if necessary. So, what does it mean “to pivot”, why do firms pivot, and is pivoting a failure?

First of all, the pivot, which is frequently encountered in the world of entrepreneurship, can be explained as “a strategic decision that causes an enterprise to significantly change one or more of its basic components such as business model, team, growth strategy”. Startups, which are young and dynamic by nature, grow rapidly under uncertain conditions; struggles with rapidly developing and changing markets. This struggle sometimes results in changes in plans.

Entrepreneurs can make changes in their ideas and plans in order to survive when they cannot achieve the success they aim for in some areas. Although the reasons for this situation differ from startup to startup, they can be listed as factors such as not being able to reach the targeted sales figure, not being able to achieve product/market fit, not being able to compete with other companies, technological difficulties, legal reasons, investor’s guidance, and wrong timing.

Although pivoting is often perceived as a failure, we see that there are many companies that have achieved success by pivoting. In fact, sometimes not pivoting is one of the main factors that drives companies to failure. For this reason, we do not consider pivoted companies as unsuccessful; we think that it would be more correct to consider it as a company that did not give up in the face of failure and defended itself well to be stronger.

Let’s take a look at some of the companies we know very well, which owes its success to its pivot:

Netflix: The application, which has reached 221.6 million users today and is now available in every home, started out as a DVD rental platform. The firm has become the Netflix we know, which has kept pace with innovation and pivoted into a video streaming service platform and even unveiling its own productions.

Instagram: Originally called Burbn, it was a complex location-based service that allowed users to check in at specific locations, schedule future check-ins, earn points by hanging out with friends, and share pictures from meetups.

Twitter:Where we spend our minutes a day writing our every moment and our thoughts, was originally a platform called Odeo, which was intended to serve as a distribution channel and social network revolving around podcasts.


Play-Doh: Did you know that Play-Doh, the play dough we all played with as kids (maybe still?) was introduced as a wall cleaner in the 1930s?

[1] S.S. Bajwa et al., “‘Failures’ to Be Celebrated: An Analysis of Major Pivots of Software Start-Ups,” Empirical Software Eng., vol. 21, no. 5, 2016, pp. 1–36

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