A pivot is the term for a company that changes its business model in order to take advantage of an opportunity. The opportunity is often only visible after the founders have progressed with their initial concept enough to learn about their market and its needs. Many of the hottest companies today, from YouTube (which started as a dating site) to Flikr (which was a videogame) are examples of great pivots. The founders in these companies tested their hypothesis and realized they wouldn’t work, so they moved in the direction that would. The affectionate name for this is “failing fast” and its a good thing. Chad and I did just this about 3 weeks ago when we changed our underlying business model.
Our previous idea was a marketplace for creative messaging services, from funny eCards to custom phone calls from voice impersonators. What we found was that people wanted ways to interact, but our product offering was too wide. We were talking with too many different target markets. We needed a much more narrow product offering which would enable us to target just one demographic and build a core user group. Our customers and artists told us repeatedly that they were interested in printed cards. We heard “I love the eCards but I want you to mail it as a real card” and “I hate going to the store to buy cards, I end up not sending them! Can you make some of your eCards available to print?”
We started researching the greeting card market and realized that it is massive. Over 7.5 billion greeting cards are bought each year in the US, representing a $11B market with over 3,000 independent publishers. Only a handful of small companies currently print and mail cards from a web marketplace and none of them are executing the concept particularly well. Chad quipped that we could do to greeting cards what NetFlix did for videos, bring the card buying process online. As soon as that came out of his mouth, we both instantly realized the market potential. We were hooked.
That was 3 weeks ago. Since then we’ve repurposed our website and launched the new features as a minimum viable product. Try it out, you can actually have us print and mail a card for you right now. Don’t forget to let us know what you think of this new direction in the comments.