Let’s Talk Pivot: When, Why, and How to Make Your Startup Thrive!

  • Aamir Qutub
  • | CEO of Beyond Grades
  • | Updated on February 23, 2024
Ultimate Startup Guide to Pivot.

They say the only constant is change. Well, for startups, that’s especially true.

Did you know that 90% of startups pivot?

Yes, I know it may sound a bit surprising. But the reality is that pivoting is about evolution, not failure.

In this blog, we will unlock the secrets of pivoting your way to startup success.

So, let’s start now!

What is pivot?

Pivot in a startup refers to shifting your business idea or strategy to something new when you realize that your initial plan isn’t yielding the desired results.

A company pivot isn’t just changing course, it’s like transforming your idea to resonate with your market requirements.

You must have heard about Airbnb and YouTube: they pivoted, and they conquered.

Airbnb was originally an air mattress rental service, but it pivoted to revolutionize the travel and tourism industry.

YouTube started as a dating website and pivoted to a video-sharing platform.

Some of the most successful companies in the world, like Facebook, have pivoted multiple times before finding their winning formula.

Not only these companies, there are many big firms who pivoted their businesses successfully.

Let’s know about them in detail.

Startup pivot examples



Instagram started as a photo-sharing app but pivoted to become a social media giant.

The current platform originated from a service called Burbn, which was initially a location-based check-in app.

After realizing the popularity of its photo-sharing features compared to other aspects, Burbn’s leadership decided to focus solely on photo-sharing, comments and likes. This led to the rebranding of the app as Instagram, which has now become a well-known media-sharing giant.

The success of Instagram can be attributed to its focus on what it did best and what was most popular among its user base, leading to a successful pivot.



Netflix changed the game when it introduced DVDs by mail, causing traditional video shops like Blockbuster to fade away. However, even Netflix had to adapt.

With the rise of streaming in 2007, they added streaming movies and TV shows to their services, making it the primary way people consume content today.

The key to their success lies in their constant evolution, using new technologies to give customers a better viewing experience.



Back in 2005, Twitter started as Odeo, a platform for finding and subscribing to podcasts. However, when iTunes dominated the podcast space, Odeo faced the need to pivot.

Jack Dorsey, the future co-founder of Twitter, proposed the concept of a microblogging platform. This idea allowed users to share and read each other’s updates in real-time.

Now, Twitter boasts over 500 million users and has evolved beyond a mere update-sharing platform. It serves as a hub for citizen journalism, social activism, and live tweets, showcasing its significant impact on the digital landscape.



YouTube, a powerhouse in the video-sharing market, attracts over 2 million users monthly, making it a dominant force in the digital landscape.

Interestingly, YouTube didn’t begin as the familiar video-sharing platform we know today. Initially, it started as a dating website where singles could upload videos to showcase themselves and express what they were seeking in a partner.

Recognizing the potential, the founders made a strategic pivot, opening up the platform to all kinds of videos. This decision transformed YouTube into the diverse and widely-used platform we recognize today. The pivot from a dating site to an all-encompassing video-sharing hub was crucial to YouTube’s success.

So, these were a few examples of famous companies that successfully pivoted their businesses.

Now, let’s talk about the startup pivot process.

Startup Pivot Process

Startup pivot Process

If your business isn’t growing as expected and you are considering a pivot, you should follow a step-by-step process to navigate your transformation.

  1. Discovery: At this stage, leverage the data and feedback you’ve gathered while running your business. Use the provided information to enhance and modify your business model and product ideas.
  2. Development: After establishing a new product idea, develop a prototype. A prototype should have enough useful features to appeal to early customers, and this is known as a minimum viable product (MVP). The goal is to test the product during the validation phase without investing excessive time and resources into development.
  3. Validation: Test the Minimum Viable Product (MVP) by seeking feedback and insights from customers. The product should be adjusted and iterated based on the feedback until it meets the needs of the customers and becomes something they are willing to purchase.
  4. Plan: It’s important to have a well-thought-out plan for pivoting a product and bringing it to the market. Create a timeline for the process, including any necessary changes to branding and messaging before the product launch.
  5. Execute: Once you have completed all the necessary preparations, it’s time to put your plan into action and go ahead with the launch

The Best Strategies for Pivoting Your Startup

  1. Prototype Before You Pivot

    Before making a significant pivot in your startup, develop a prototype. Test the product’s value, assess its usability, and gather feedback. Gathering early feedback is essential to grasp the potential impact of your product and ensure it aligns with your brand.

    Evaluate the product’s value, test its usability, and collect feedback. Early input is crucial for grasping the product’s potential impact and how well it aligns with your brand.

  2. Align Goals with Business Vision

    Entrepreneurial vision statements evolve with the changing market. Regularly reassess your vision and align goals accordingly. When considering a pivot, ensure your new objectives are in harmony with your business vision.

  3. Ensure Growth Opportunities

    Pivoting is effective for overcoming roadblocks, but it must lead to growth. Avoid expanding in saturated markets, conduct thorough market research, and consider hosting a product discovery workshop to explore opportunities.

  4. Consider Alternative Technology

    Stay abreast of technological trends. Incorporate the latest technologies to increase the probability of a successful pivot. Adapting to the changing tech landscape is vital for staying competitive.

  5. Keep Investors in the Loop

    Communication with investors is key during pivot stages. If your company’s mission is changing, engage with investors early. Failing to involve them in major decisions may harm relationships and hinder successful pivoting.

  6. Analyze Competitor Strategies

    Before pivoting, analyze competitors’ strategies. Identify areas where you can outperform them or provide a unique value proposition. Analyzing the competitive landscape is vital for making strategic decisions.

  7. Understand the Target Market and Problems

    If your product isn’t gaining traction, reassess your target market. Pivoting your business to address the needs of a different audience can be more effective than altering the product itself. Analyze market problems and tailor your strategy accordingly.

    Achieving successful pivots involves strategic planning, market awareness, and a commitment to continuous improvement. These tips can help you navigate the challenges of a startup pivot more effectively.


We hope that this blog has been informative in clarifying the concept of pivot meaning in startup and the process of pivoting a startup.

Pivoting requires a real understanding of where your business is going and being ready to make big changes. But if your startup isn’t doing well or is stuck, making a pivot might be necessary to keep your business going.

Aamir Qutub Aamir Qutub, the founder and CEO of Beyond Grades, has a sincere passion for innovation and startups. With over a decade of experience in entrepreneurship, he has successfully co-founded 4 technology startups and invested in dozens of other startups, focusing on real-world problems and their solutions. When not juggling with his reports and presentations, he loves to create unconventional recipes and cherish moments with his family.


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