How to Successfully Pivot Your Business Model

How to Successfully Pivot Your Business Model

As the saying goes, when the going gets tough, the tough get going. During this pandemic, it’s triply tough: lockdowns, economic slowdowns, political and social outcries. With anxiety through the roof and many companies’ very business model in danger, it is crucial that business leaders are prepared to adapt.

I’ve been in the software space for over 35 years, and along the way, I’ve served on the board of over a dozen companies. In 2012 I founded Trivie, a training and communication app focused on making corporate training and communication more effective, ensuring that employees remember the information that the company needs them to remember in order to perform better.

When we started Trivie in 2012, the app was actually built for consumers as a trivia game. The idea was sparked by a conversation in the early 2000s about games of skill played simultaneously by millions of people. The technology wasn’t available at the time to do this, but by 2012, we revisited the idea and decided to create a company that could do that. 

When we came up with the idea of Trivie, consumer games were being downloaded and purchased for 99 cents. From the time we started the company until we launched, that changed for word and trivia games. Downloads were primarily free with “in-app” purchases as the monetization. We weren’t instrumented for that, but we decided to launch our product, and we got over three million downloads. The problem was that we weren’t making much money, so rather than sink under the pressures of an unfit revenue model, we pivoted to a more fruitful investment in an untapped space: corporate training

Every business and every industry is facing their own hurdles during this crisis, but when it comes to pivoting your business model and adapting to rapidly changing consumer habits, there are a few guiding principles that have held true for Trivie, and many others.

Listen to What Your Audience Is Telling You

When we originally launched as a gaming app and were struggling to create real profit, the idea to pivot actually came from users of the game. We had a lot of unsolicited emails from people asking if we ever thought about offering Trivie as a corporate training app.

We researched it and determined that the big elephant in the room for everyone in training is the human biology problem – people forget. And they forget their training fast. We now had our mission – ensure that people remember their training, reduce training costs, reduce incidents that occur because people forget their training.

Had we ignored what our audience was suggesting and focused on forging the path as we originally planned, we never would have discovered this hole in the market and established our niche.

Identify Your Customers’ Problems and Figure Out How You Can Be a Solution

Like so many other companies this year, we had to pivot our business model once again in order to be more effective during this current crisis.

A few months ago, when the pandemic hit and the lockdowns began, companies were in need of a solution that could help with remote training. We had it.

Companies needed something that could deploy quickly to hundreds or thousands of employees. We had it.

Companies needed something that could not only ensure that people would remember their training but also that could help measure employee morale and employee voice. We had that too.

We had identified the problem and knew that we had the capabilities within our platform to be a solution to current and prospective clients. We made changes to our website and marketing message, we changed our presentations and we made changes to our pricing.

Clients responded, using Trivie for remote training, leveraging our quizzing engine, our discussion boards, and our surveying capabilities for things like “Work from Home Best Practices, “Return to Work Imperatives” among other more traditional training.

Be Open to a Multi-Platform Approach 

One thing many companies are facing during the fallout of this pandemic is the need to expand their offerings. Restaurants that had never done a takeout menu quickly learned, retailers built ecommerce websites overnight, and companies that relied on in-person service had to focus on how to make their services work in a remote setting.

At Trivie, our epiphany was realizing that clients used our solution to ensure that their training is remembered longer, so why couldn’t they also use our solution to ensure more effective corporate communication? We thought of our own experiences at large companies, and we researched. What we discovered gave us more confidence. The typical corporate communication, from the CEO, head of HR, or other people was opened, depending on the industry, by 50 to 90 percent of employees. The “click through” rate — in essence, did they read or listen to the message? — is under 25 percent for most industries. Yikes!

There are other issues we discovered. Even if they read the message, do the employees understand what you need them to understand? For this pivot, we envision a tweaked way to do corporate communication that is vastly more effective. It ensures that not only do your employees listen to or read the critical corporate communication but that they “get it” and have the option to discuss it, so executives can hear the employee voice.

The results have been great. Several of our current clients who were using the platform for training reinforcement have now expanded to using it for more effective corporate communication as well, including sending out a trivie after internal Zoom sessions to ensure that people were on the same page after the event. Some new clients are starting their Trivie usage on the corporate communication side, establishing Trivie as an internal “channel” for critical communication that needs to be remembered. 

Communicate with Your Team

Chances are, if you are currently looking to pivot your business model, you are probably looking to make some part of your business more viable in the digital economy. That means new technologies to learn, new audiences to reach, and a lot of flexibility required from your employees.

Companies need to ensure that every one of their employees is on board in this more disjointed and remote corporate environment, especially if you are making any substantial changes to how you run your business.

The key to a successful business in general is to hire great people and communicate well. Every company I’ve been with has done a world-class job at these two things. Great teams can help you pivot successfully, but you have to be transparent with your team as you are making changes and give them the tools they need to succeed.

• • •

For Trivie, being able to pivot and make changes in real time has opened us up to a much larger market. While the going may be tough as we ride out the remainder of this global crisis, I do believe that the tough will adapt and (hopefully) find new opportunities to be a solution to consumers in the midst of the chaos.

Leland Putterman

Leland Putterman has been in the software and services industry for over 35 years. He currently advises or is on the Board of Centro Media (digital media), Solarsense (alternative energy development), Realnex (real estate software), Spruce (apartment digital services), Patchr (circuit board design), Tachyus (oil&gas software) and Trivie (training reinforcement) where he is a cofounder and executive chairman. He helps these companies with strategy, marketing, sales, and general mentoring. Previously, Leland was CEO of Acorn Performance Group and oversaw its daily operations. He brings extensive experience in managing large organizations that deliver software solutions and consulting services to corporate customers. Prior to Acorn, Leland was at BMC Software, where he served as an Executive Officer and Chief Marketing Officer. Prior to BMC, Leland worked for Oracle in various senior management positions, including Vice President of Product Marketing and Regional VP of Sales. He received a BA with Honors in Economics from Princeton University.

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