When to Pivot?

Devon-McDonald by


Knowing when to pivot can be make or break for any startup. Look at Instagram, Fab.com, Pinterest, and Flickr (just to name a few). Mark Organ, Founder of Eloqua and Influitive, recently sat down with OpenView to share the light bulb moment that lead to his own pivot, and set Eloqua on the path to a $871 million acquisition (see the full interview with Mark here).

Watch Mark Organ Discuss Knowing When to Pivot

Key Takeaways

  • Know when it’s time to make a change. Eloqua originally started as a chat/messaging app geared toward targeting financial services, insurance, and real estate (FIRE). However, Organ quickly discovered that there wasn’t as much interest in chatting as they had initially thought. Instead, the real excitement was around the ability to follow-up on leads via email. That light bulb moment sparked a major market strategy overhaul.
  • Sharpen your focus and be brutally honest with yourself. To know whether or not you’re heading in the right direction, you first need to formulate a hypothesis, be very narrow about where it is you want to focus, and be very open to the data that comes back. Whether it’s good or bad, you have to be absolutely honest with the results you’re seeing and allow that to guide your next steps.
  • Once you have a direction, shift gears quickly. Once Organ and his team made the decision to pivot, Eloqua took just six months to complete the shift from its original FIRE strategy. Again, the key was the company’s iterative approach, constantly testing their hypotheses and reacting quickly and decisively based on whether they were validated or not.
  • Be decisive and leave your ego out of it. Many founders have a lot of ego invested in their initial choices, and, often, that leads to their downfall. Be data-driven, dispel the myth of the visionary entrepreneur, and check your ego at the door.

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Photo by: Martin Fisch