Thoughts on the “Pivot”

We are one week over our halfway mark in the LLP process and all the teams are making great progress. All teams have experienced some level of a pivot. In fact, it seems that this week has been “major pivot week” for TTU and REU teams. Pivots are a common part of the startup process and represent improved or modified understanding of your product and the value you provide to potential customers. I think that the “Froodle” team displayed this the best; On one hand, they validated all of their original hypotheses: Restaurant managers want to save money on printing menus, reduce order errors, etc. So on one hand everything looked great. But with a critical review of their interviews, they realized that the common and most pressing value for these managers was means to drive more traffic to their restaurants through a better rewards program. This led the team to invalidate the other hypotheses (despite general approval in their interviews) and to focus on a key value.

Now Froodle’s job is to redefine their BMC and working MVP for the new idea through more interviews. But at this point, the team has moved to the next step in the startup process. They can revisit some of the earlier interviewees and have a conversation that might go like: “ I heard you say you were interested in a better rewards program. What if the rewards program looked something like this” and then show a simple sample of their idea (drawings, simple pretend app, etc). Your information feedback cycle is going to go much faster now and lead to regular improvements an honing in, as Micah Johnson described in developing his current product.

A few other thoughts from this week’s class — pricing high-end, high value river-water boats. Todd Gregory talked about cost, competitive and value pricing in respect to his overall pricing model. However his business is really built around value pricing. He commands the higher price through selling a value to his customers. This value comes in many parts: boat functionality, being part of a group with a common passion, a sport that values craftsmanship and pride in your skills.

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Stephen Canfield, PhD

Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering

Tennessee Technological University

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