December 5, 2017 Hangry

Pivoting: Change is Not Failure – The Founder Edition

‘When I was a kid, I was working at Blockbuster…’  Fabian starts.

It’s a phone interview, and the topic we’re discussing today I’m still unaware of. But I begin to record anyway.

He continues,

‘…and I remember when Netflix first launched. Not the Netflix you’re thinking of. Netflix actually just used to be a DVD delivery service.’ Movie snail mail, if you will.

‘When Netflix first launched, I still remember the response from everyone in head office, and even everyone in management; People want to come in. They want our customer service. They’re not going to order DVDs through the mail.’

 

Well, we all know how that one turned out.

Pivoting is essential, and every company goes through it. No matter what market you’re in, it’s always going to change. Take the wedding industry, for example, it isn’t going away anytime soon and seems to be pretty standard. But pivoting is necessary in order to move forward. Did videographers in the 80’s know that people would be able to record their own weddings from their phones? Doubtful. Every company goes through it; you need to maneuver, adapt or pivot to get the ideal product.

How did Hangry start out?


We started out in coffee shops, and we realized quickly that that market was not ready. So from there, we started doing restaurant food ordering. At this point, we were doing really well. We had 50 restaurants right out of the gate, but the market just wasn’t the right fit for us. We had a far superior technology that just wasn’t being fully utilized—because restaurants are mainly a service market. That is what caused us to move to campus mobile ordering, we found the market and technology to be more sophisticated. Fast forward to today, and now food ordering is just one small piece of the puzzle. More and more customers were saying that they wanted their brand on the app, so we began offering white labeling. This was a big shift for us and our technology because it required us to abstract a lot of our processes and code so that we could tweak it on demand for our customers easily.

What would you say to small businesses that are afraid of change?


Where you think you’re going to get initially isn’t actually where you end up, and that’s a good thing. When you first start you have this clouded picture of the future and as you deploy accounts, work with customers and talk to more people, the picture begins to change. You end up forming a different picture than you originally thought, but this one is actually better.

 How has pivoting helped hangry?


Originally, we had mobile ordering. Now, we’ve had to abstract that. We now have a dozen modules, which can be in or out, all built on a solid foundation; as opposed to one module that is TIED to the foundation. It’s like rooms in a house, you either have a one-room house or you have a house with multiple rooms you can move in and out of.

Can pivoting be a sign of failure?


Absolutely not, because it’s not failing. You don’t pivot because you realize it’s not going to work. You pivot based on opportunities and you pivot based on what the market is telling you. It’s a sign of growth and intelligence. Imagine if Netflix didn’t pivot the second they realized people didn’t like DVD’s anymore.

 

That is a world, we don’t want to know.


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