Embracing the Pivot
One of the most compelling narratives in the start-up space is the art of the pivot. Twitter, for instance, began as Odeo, a network where people could find and subscribe to podcasts. However, when iTunes began dominating the podcast space, Odeo’s founders had to rethink their strategy. The pivot to a microblogging platform was a risky move that ultimately paid off, transforming the way the world communicates.
Solving Unanticipated Problems
Sometimes, a start-up’s success comes from solving a problem that wasn’t initially targeted. Slack, the now-ubiquitous messaging platform, started as an internal communication tool for a gaming company. The game didn’t take off, but the communication tool it spawned did, filling a gap in the market for team collaboration software.
The Power of Community
Building a community around a product can be a powerful driver of success. Airbnb, for example, grew from a simple idea to help pay rent by turning a living room into a bed and breakfast for a design conference in San Francisco. The founders capitalized on the sense of community among travelers seeking authentic experiences, which turned their small idea into a global phenomenon.
Leveraging Technology Trends
Adapting to new technology trends can also pave the way for success. Instagram began as Burbn, a check-in app that included gaming and photo-sharing features. Realizing the potential in the rise of smartphone photography, the founders stripped Burbn down to its photo-sharing feature, and Instagram was born. It quickly became a leader in mobile photography and was eventually acquired by Facebook.
Listening to customers can lead to breakthrough innovations. Dropbox’s referral program, which offered additional free storage space for both the referrer and the new user, was a direct response to user needs for more space. This program turned Dropbox into a viral sensation, significantly increasing its user base without traditional advertising.