Startup Journey Log #5: When It’s Time To Pivot
I haven’t talked about my new startup idea since October and now it’s January. So here’s a quick refresher:
- Startup Journey Log #1: Why I Moved to Paris
- Startup Journey Log #2: How To Come Up With Startup Ideas
- Startup Journey Log #3: My Terrible Idea
- Startup Journey Log #4: Deconstructing A Bad Startup Idea
In brief, I quit my job and moved to Paris waiting for the muse to give me an idea.
Then when I got an idea, it turned out that the idea wasn’t such a good one.
Why? In part, because it didn’t fit my background, my reputation, or my expertise.
But was I ready to give up yet?
I knew that there was one thing that would make my lack of experience, reputation or expertise far less relevant: Traction. If I could get traction for my investing advise idea, many sins could be forgiven.
So my next question was: How do I get some traction? I already knew at this point that investing wasn’t a hair-on-fire problem for people I thought were my audience (specifically the average millennial).
I had to choose: Change my target audience or change my startup.
When most entrepreneurs fail to get traction in their startup idea, they don’t change anything about what they are doing until they finally just give up and get a day job. They spend years investing time and money and resources with little to show for it. They get linear progress… a steady rate of new customers, a steady rate of new opportunities. But it never really breaks out into exponential growth.
So which customers would I have to target if I didn’t want to change my startup idea?
Well, my idea is an investment strategy for millennials. But the only millennials who would be interested in a new investment strategy (enough to pay for one at least) would be rich millennials. A much smaller group of people, and one that is harder and more expensive to reach than just an average millennial.
I could either invest a lot of money advertising to a tiny group of people who are hard to reach, or change my approach entirely.
I decided to change my approach.
So the new question was what would millennials have their hair on fire about related to money? If investing isn’t a top 3 money concern for millennials, what is?
I started talking to a bunch of millennials and started to hear some patterns. The most striking thing was how big the money knowledge gap was for millennials. There was a ton of personal finance information out there, but very little of it seemed hyper relevant to millennials. It was mainly written for an older generation.
Certainly the ideas were all out there with books like The Millionaire Next Door, I Will Teach You To Be Rich, The Automatic Millionaire, and others, but none of them have hit a critical mass adoption with the millennial generation. If you took just any random millennial on the street and asked them for the best resource on personal finance they have ever found, you would get a bunch of blank stares. There was no Tim Ferriss of money yet, though Ramit Sethi was the closest of the bunch.
This seemed like a gap to me. Personal finance for millennials seemed like an interesting tangential angle to what I was originally thinking. It had a number of interesting and approachable MVPs and it could even eventually tie in with the original investing idea. After all, a subset of the millennials learning personal finance from me would have enough money to invest. Then the investing idea would become a simple up-sell opportunity on an existing market instead of an expensive and risky ad campaign.
In the next article I will tell you what the MVP for the new pivot will be and we will see if I can start to get some traction on any of this.
About the Author
Lucas Carlson is a hands-on consultant, author and entrepreneur. He helps founders discover opportunities for growth, both for their companies and for themselves. He was the CEO and founder of AppFog, a popular startup acquired in 2013 after signing up over 100,000 developers and raising nearly $10M in venture funding from top angels and VCs.