I always looked at pivoting with some level of negativity. Basic thinking was that the founders would not have understood the market and after losing money, he / she may be trying out alternatives just to keep afloat.
Reality Check: As founders, when we start our businesses, we do not know if the product market fit would really be there. It takes a lot of time and money for startups to build a product aligned with market needs and to get it validated. Many times our validation process provides us with deeper insights on what would work, which helps in reimagining the product as well.
Picking up wrong Target Group
I started my startup with deep focus on Fintech & Digital Consulting for Banks. I believed that my experience in building direct / startup banks across the world would help me in getting digital consulting assignments. After around three months of running around, I realized that we were not getting any business from banks.
Instead, we started getting into interesting discussions with Fintech founders, software companies and NBFCs. Stupidly, we missed many of these initial opportunities to work with this market as “they were outside our focus area”. After running with near zero revenues for initial months, we took up this opportunity of consulting with Fintechs and Software companies seriously. Consulting stream has since then created decent value for the clients (and us!!!). BTW we still do not have a banking client and we are perfectly fine with it.
Realizing my dream of becoming part time teacher
I always wanted to be a part time trainer and with availability of time (rather abundance of it) I started on my Fintech training journey. I initiated this by giving free Fintech / Digital sessions to corporates, which included software companies, consulting firms etc. In parallel, I did my first public training “Building Fintech Financial Institution” in Rise Mumbai.
With the success of these sessions, I realized that these trainings were helping the companies in changing their digital strategies, while filling the fintech / digital skill gaps for the professionals. It took us a while to start India’s First Fintech Masterclass. By now, we would have given Fintech sessions to nearly 500+ professionals & students across India.
Finding new model : Running Focused Business Events
Along the way, we were approached by a European Fintech Association for enabling a business meet with Indian Financial Institutions. With zero skills in event management, I was in two minds and was scared of “potential disaster”. Despite this, we took the call of running potentially India’s leanest B2B meet. With phenomenal feedback from clients, we have since run multiple events (now named as “The Digital Fifth FintechBazaar”) focused on AI / ML, Funding and Lending.
All the above changes may be classified as pivoting. After 15 months of business, I believe that pivoting is about redefining your business model around client needs. It may mean change in customer segment, change in product, change in location… Its about doing whatever it takes to make business happen…
And I do agree that as a founder, I did not understood the market and I tried these alternatives to keep moving. Pivoting is no longer a negative word for me.