The month was February 2012 and myself and three other cofounders held a launch party to announce a new venture we had been working on to the world, that business was a new application called Cofounda.
At the time we put so much into developing this app and answering every question before it had been asked that we went to market with a very feature rich and some would say overcomplicated version of the problem that we were trying to solve.
People only ever wanted to use one feature though, and having everything else in place made it confusing for people, whilst the app is still maintained and works and has users, it was not the revolutionary amazingly spectacular piece of genius that we were convinced it was. So we decided a few months ago that we would “pivot” the idea.
The problem with that is though, I don’t believe there is such thing as pivoting.
We built something, we didn’t nurture it enough, we changed the idea. Sure the business is going to have the same name, but it’s an entirely different business model now. In our startup community I believe we substitute the word ‘fail’ for ‘pivot’ far too often. It is a buzz word that allows us to scapegoat vulnerable conversations with our cofounders, our investors and the media.
As a community we love hearing talks on failure, by successful people. There is a precedent emerging that we can only learn from the failures of someone that has made it, when in fact, this is very much not the case.
There is something much more powerful discussing failure with someone as it is happening to them or yourself, the lesson is learnt quicker, the engagement is more intense and the pattern is less likely to be repeated.
Cofounda was an epic fail, we failed to start lean, failed to do enough research, failed to attract a critical mass of users. Our new media platform being created also called Cofounda will still be trying to solve a similar problem, but it also could not be more different to the original idea. It’s a new venture, not a ‘pivot’ / a different approach at solving the same problem.
Recognising the ‘fail factor’ meant us cofounders being accountable for our decisions to date with the business. The term ‘pivot’ allows people to bypass this.
Stop pivoting. Own the fail.