Koolkart Pivots… Err… Shift in Focus?
Launched in January 2012, KoolKart had created many waves in the Indian Startup scene and managed to generate a good amount of traction. Founded by the dynamic duo of Suneil Chawla and Anupam Agarwal, Koolkart pitched themselves as a social discovery + price comparison ecommerce venture and had grabbed the limelight. Since the initial buzz, the shine seems to have tapered off a wee bit as they’re trying out new things.
In a tip off by Naman Sarawagi via Twitter, it seems like Koolkart has pivoted- well not exactly but the focus is more on other aspects like incorporating designers into the scheme of things. Shopo has managed to do this well by creating a marketplace for ‘everything Indian’. KoolKart was banking on social discovery and price comparison (which is still very much there) but not having FlipKart in there doesn’t seem to be very favourable move at this point in time.
So, the question might be raised that this means they haven’t pivoted or shifted focus but only branched off into something more. Is it all just a live experiment? Steve Blank wrote a brilliant piece about Pivoting, Vision versus Hallucinations- Founders and Pivots where he explained it very well.
A pivot is a substantive change to one or more of components to your business model. You’re using “Pivot” as an excuse to skip the hard stuff – keeping focused on your initial vision and business model and integrating what you’ve heard if and only if you think it’s a substantive improvement to your current business model. There is no possible way you can garner enough information to pivot based on one customers feedback or even 20. You need to make sure it’s a better direction than the one you are already heading in
We argued earlier about how pivoting can be used well to overcome failure but it has transformed into a buzz word where it is almost like you’re making a statement. So, what is the right time to pivot? We earlier wrote about the pivot that Your Next Leap- a funded startup made. They were a career recommendation site and pivoted to a job portal. Why?
Suruchi Wagh, the founder at YourNextLeap explained,
We have seen a very encouraging response from Job seekers, who have been delighted by the matching Jobs our engine has recommended them. As such, we decided to focus on Jobs by leveraging our expertise in graph-based matching. The Jobs industry is a big market and we find that Job seekers and Employers can be provided with a better solution than what exists in the market at this time.
It had been a few months before we discovered the pivot and a lot of thought had gone into making this move. Now, in KoolKart’s case, it is not a pivot but a branch off which can eventually lead to a pivot. In a rather iffy situation, this is a very pertinent question every startup founder should ask themselves before spinning off in a direction. Are we 100% sure, we want to pivot?