2016 was a difficult year for our business. My cofounder and I thought our product, a fashion deal aggregator of sorts, would be a hit with consumers, and we spent the year releasing an MVP and getting feedback.
Unfortunately the feedback to our product was that consumers didn’t feel it was very effective or helpful, and we were never able to gain solid user growth. We have some proprietary algorithms that cost us a lot of money to develop, so we don’t want to abandon the idea fully, and feel we can still apply our proprietary tech to other problems in the fashion/ecommerce space. We both agree that we want to pivot our idea.
Where should we start? How should we look for inspiration? What are the most important decisions to make?
One of the biggest reasons that early-stage startups fail is because they build a product that no one (or not enough people) want to buy. Unfortunately it sounds like you may have fallen into the common trap of building a solution in search of a sufficiently high-value problem.
"Pivots" are one of a number of terms that come out of the startup lexicon that represent important, but widely misunderstood concepts. The essence of a pivot is an adjustment to an element or assumption in your business model that makes the model function better.
Successful pivots require understanding what assumptions/elements are underperforming and developing hypotheses and evidence for better performing elements.
Sounds like you have already started... "...the feedback to our product was that consumers didn’t feel it was very effective or helpful..." this is one main way pivots happen... Now, you need to qualify the feedback by going back and asking WHAT would make it effective and helpful...
With all of this said, you might need to explore your target market mentioned. Could it be your product is effective and helpful - just wrong market?
Just my 2 cents.
Founder @ Affixsol.com
First of all understand that the goal is to make a product that customers want. Your goal is not to develop an algorithm. You have spend a lot of money getting where you are today and those dollars will not come back again no matter what you do. What you learned that can be applied to satisfying the customer has value. What you learned that can not be applied to satisfy the customers has no value. The cost of the algorithm or anything that is part of learning that has not panned out may actually have a negative value if you try to force it's use.
So take what you have learned. Ask the new questions to learn more about what your customers really want. And also spend a part of your questions on the choice of your customer. A classic example is a manufacture of a pad lock in a developing country. they though the customer wanted security of not opening a gate when the lock was in place. But reality the customer did not care about this function but the social status of needing to own a lock. Thus they had to change the customers they approached and make the lock give more status in its appearance.
Any business I've started has ended up looking quite different than it began. In similar situations I’ve focused on what my customer could use, rather than what I had. In fact in all three cases the original product/service was completely dropped in the end. It’s easy to get stuck on what you’ve built, and if you can modify it or shift markets to make it work, then great, but don’t let it get you stuck.
As for the process of finding the thing that works, every time it’s been messy/experimental. Sometimes it was a slightly different product and sometimes a completely different business. If there was an efficient system for finding ‘the thing’ we’d all be right the first time.Ask, experiment, review....
Best of luck.
What you have faced, should have been eliminated before you developed your MVP and spent $$$ trying to achieve a result. Most StartUps face this issue because they have more convinced on the solution, rather than concentrating on the Problem, you are solving.Its never late to PIVOT provided you have the conviction that your product has a market. The Market should be found during early interviews at ideation stage.
I am not sure how pivoting at this stage can help you, but after a detailed discussion and understanding your product, probably I could help you. Do reach out to me, if you need any help in pivoting.
Ask an array of potential prospects in selected segments what they need. Take it from there.
Brainstorm who wants what you have and develop a sales and marketing plan to sell to them. It helps to have as many people, from as many different backgrounds, help during the brainstorming season.