Startup Diary entry #5 | My first Pivot Table

While working on my start-up, I have discovered a new meaning to the concept of Pivot Table, a concept normally known as a function in Excel. The last 2 months a prototype was launched and is currently being tested by approximately 45 people, I did my first public elevator pitch and have started building my sales pipeline. But let me explain you where I have found this new meaning to the concept of a Pivot Table.

The Pivot

For my startup I follow the lean start-up method. For those of you who don’t know, the Lean Start-up method basically means bringing a minimum viable product (MVP) to the market, getting feedback and then improving it following this customer feedback. It means the creation of extremely fast moving feedback loops between you and your (potential) customers. This allows for a very low-cost start of your company (especially in the web) and makes sure you don’t do useless product development because you follow the customer all the time. During this process most startups discover that they need to change. So they change their product / business model, this is called a “Pivot”.

The Table

The product I am developing is a way to visualize projects. The prototype we launched the first week of September was very general. So I decided to go out and search for the first real use cases. I visited several companies and just showed them the prototype. Currently I am talking with 2 companies to do a pilot on a real project. It was whilst sitting at the table with these customers that I discovered the first real application of my product: Post-Merger-Integration (PMI). So I decided to change my product from project management to PMI. It was at the table of the customer where I decided that I needed to Pivot. So in my case a table was not a sheet of numbers but rather a place where I received vital feedback on the use of my product.

My First Pivot Table

So for me, there is another kind of Pivot Table. It is the place or meeting where you learn from your customer and then adapt your start-up. Only this Pivot Table is much more important for a start-up than the one you can do in Excel. I have always known that I needed to find a first vertical in which to launch my product. My current prototype was too general to add value. Now, after having done my first Pivot Table, I have found the first vertical it to be PMI, a field that I personally have 3 years of experience in.

So if you are thinking of a business idea, especially one that has to do with the web, I encourage you to make a prototype. Even with just a set of screenshots created in PowerPoint you can already go out into the market and get very valuable feedback.

Next steps

The next months will be focused on doing the first real pilot. Once that is done, the real fundraising will begin as I am looking to raise between €100K – €250K. But I believe that the first real pilot is essential to demonstrate to investors what value my product adds.

Do Pivot Tables

So if you are working on a start-up idea… go out and do Pivot Tables, but not the Excel ones.

 

Detailed Project Progress

Pivoting from my previous idea wasn’t difficult because I expected it to happen at some point. So this is the progress that led to this pivot:

  • Early September a fully functional alpha was released to a group close to 30 people. Currently around 45 people have a user account.
  • 7 Testers have been debriefed in detail leading to a shortlist of close to 40 feature requests, will do the rest in the coming months.
  • 3 important User interface improvements have already been implemented (all suggested by testers).
  • 2 weeks ago the profile page feature was released so users can now share information with other users about their backgrounds.
  • Another important feature that was released is the ability to move things around in the interface, rather than deleting and making new items.
  • An SVN was implemented, which is very new for me. I learned how to program at a time when these systems didn’t exist yet and if you are by yourself you don’t need it. Now that more people help out every now and then, an SVN is very important.
  • I’ve had meetings with several companies to talk about potential pilots, basically this should become the sales pipeline if the product actually adds value. If the product turns out not to add value, another pivot will be necessary.
  • Developed a pitch deck and am working on 2 commercial decks.
  • Validated the mathematical model with a professor from IESE, now the implementation will begin.
  • Started writing the business plan.