What ‘Pivot’ Really Means

by Alan Spoon, general partner in the Boston office of Polaris Venture Partners. The following excerpt is from Inc. magazine. Read the full article on the Inc. website.

We hear about pivots all the time. But what separates the great ones from the disasters?

“Pivoting” is a familiar word in the startup world.  When your first business model isn’t working (and this happens more often than not), the CEO and team pivot to plan B.  These are deep breath moments!

But pivoting doesn’t necessarily mean desperation.  It can be a tool to discover additional growth–growth you might otherwise have overlooked.

Businesses can grow beyond their initial dreams by re-imagining their assets and talents, thinking more broadly about the customer problems they solve, and accessing growth capital to seize the new high ground.

Take for example Earth Networks, one of our portfolio companies. It started as a classroom science equipment company in the early 1990s, connecting students with weather information outside their classroom and other classrooms across town.

The internet, not surprisingly, changed everything. Soon, Earth Networks’ management realized it was becoming a fast growing media company that could sell advertising alongside real-time weather reports provided by a growing number of connected weather stations.  Eight thousand connected weather stations later, their “Weatherbug” app now has the most complete local weather information available.  Meteorologists and safety officials in local and national government agencies–and hedge funds, too–use the app to get them a degree of detail they never anticipated.

The re-imagination of Earth Networks as a network sensor and data analysis company was just the first major step – one which opened new markets and revenue streams.  A second re-imagination exercise opened yet another new market – using network sensing and data analysis to gather detailed information on the source and flow of greenhouse gases, worldwide.

Now that’s pivoting for growth.

Read the full article on at Inc. magazine: http://www.inc.com/alan-spoon/what-pivot-really-means.html

About Earth Networks

Earth Networks gathers and analyzes environmental observations from around the world to help promote a better understanding of the planet and its atmosphere.
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