‘Pivoting’ Pays Off for Tech Entrepreneurs

Author:  Lizette Chapman

Source:  The Wall Street Journal, April 25, 2012

Being able to “turn on a dime” when the product or service of an entrepreneurial venture doesn’t turn out to be the success its promoters had expected has become a vital skill.  The idea is to use the “failure” of one concept, learn why it didn’t work and use that knowledge to launch the next iteration. 

Starting something, determining it’s not working, and then leveraging aspects of [that] technology is extremely powerful.”that

Technology entrepreneurs of past eras took two years to build a product, hire a staff and figure out whether there was any real market for their service. But today all that typically takes only a few months as founders cycle quickly through different ideas until they find one that sticks.

Kevin Systrom’s Instagram, which started out as a virtual “check-in” site and wound up as a photo-sharing service, is a recent high-profile example.

The 28-year-old Mr. Systrom started a company about two years ago that attempted to put a new spin on the idea of virtually checking in at various locations via smartphones, then broadcasting that visit to one’s social network. His company, which he called Burbn Inc., enabled people to leave messages via their phones that could be retrieved by others visiting the same location.

Over the next few months the idea evolved, and soon Mr. Systrom had seized on the concept of a mobile app that would allow people to take photos, alter them visually and share them. That app was called Instagram. Earlier this month, Mr. Systrom and his co-founder sold the company to Facebook Inc. for $1 billion.


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