Startupedia: What Does Pivot Mean?

What does pivot mean? A business pivot is a change in the direction of a company. This usually occurs when customer feedback causes a company to re-evaluate a product to meet a market need.

Pivoting a Lean Startup:

The term pivot started to gain in popularity during the Lean Startup movement, lead by Silicon Valley entrepreneur Eric Ries. The Lean Startup is a method for developing businesses and products. It requires companies to seek customer feedback throughout the product development process, and quickly iterate the offering to better serve the customer. Once modified, the product is tested again with the customer, and any new feedback is incorporated into its development once more. This is known as the Build-Measure-Learn loop. When a company learns that their product, service, or business model is underperforming, could better serve their customers, or could better serve an entirely different market, they may pivot their business-- changing direction to capitalize on opportunity.

Famous Pivots:

  • PinterestPinterest originally started as a mobile shopping app called Tote. Tote was created to make shopping easier and faster by allowing people to window shop from their phone. The pivot from Tote to Pinterest was fueled by collections of items Tote users had gathered, providing a platform for users to amass items they were interested in, without needing the intention of purchasing them.
  • Twitter: Twitter began it’s life as a podcast directory called Odeo. Odeo let users create pod playlists and record their own podcasts. This resulted in the aggregation of thousands of channels of recorded chatter. In 2006 this concept pivoted to become what Twitter is now known for today.
  • Nokia: Nokia started out in Finland as a wood pulp mill in the late 19th century. By the 1980’s, after nearly a century of expansion into other industries such as rubber, electronics and power generation, the company began to focus on telecommunications. By the 1990’s Nokia had eliminated all other industries from it’s product/service offering to became a world-leader in mobile phones, a title it held for more than a decade.