For entrepreneurs, there are lessons in the “pivot story.”
Many businesses shifted their business models during the pandemic. Vodka companies started producing hand sanitizer. Clothing brands created masks. These were smart business moves that provided the companies with a revenue stream. Additionally, they also allowed them to explore new avenues and open possibilities for long-term strategic changes. These stories of companies pivoting are stories of persistence and resilience. Moreover, they underscore the need for agility and taking measured risks.
Entrepreneurs who are launching their ideas in 2021 or are bringing their current companies into the new year can take multiple lessons from companies that pulled off a pivot.
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Shifting Production and Pivoting to Match Demand
Airzai is a fragrance technology company that offers a range of innovative products. Early in the pandemic the company was forced to stop production of its Airzai Aroma due to production closures in China. The company had recently closed seed funding and was looking at more funding rounds when the pandemic hit. The company needed a reset.
The team had years of experience in the industry and an R&D group in place. Therefore, it was able to pivot resources to create a COVID-19-specific line of products. It created the Airzai Care line, a line of SGS-certified alcohol-free disinfectants that are 99.9 percent effective at reducing pathogens. The product is non-toxic disinfectant that appealed to people who desire natural products with the efficacy of chemical disinfectants.
This pivot leveraged the company’s existing infrastructure and expertise. What’s more, it resulted in a product that has long-term appeal and marketability that will persist after the pandemic fades.
Identifying a Problem and Offering a Solution
Another company that adjusted during the pandemic is WAITTKIT, a company that acted to stop rampant PPE price gouging. An acronym for “‘We Are In This Together Kit,” WAITTKIT offers consumers an all-in-one kit for protection from the coronavirus. It includes sanitizer spray, gloves, masks, and other items, all in a convenient and reasonably priced kit.
The pivot in this instance involved the founder Vishaal Pandya. Pandya was previously involved in the medical PPE industry. However, he exited after witnessing the unethical business tactics occurring at the start of the pandemic. He then started WAITTKIT to provide quality PPE for consumers.
The company has built a standout brand through its fair pricing. It offers US-made products and matching charitable donations to partners. It’s an example of a founder identifying a problem and then changing their career to create a solution while also building an equitable brand name.
Utilizing the Global Marketplace
Las Vegas-based wellness company Boomer Naturals felt the sting of the pandemic. To remain a viable company, Boomer Naturals pivoted toward high-quality face mask production.
However, the company decided to produce a different type of mask by integrating pathogen-killing fibers into strong cloth masks. The problem it faced was a supply chain issue, as they were not able to source materials from China. But someone on staff had a connection in southern Vietnam. This led to the company forging a partnership with an international firm for mask production.
The company is now the exclusive mask and gaiter provider for CVS. What’s more, they have sold more than 15 million masks and counting since April 2020.
The lesson here is that entrepreneurs creating physical products or looking for qualified labor should always consider the global market. They should be willing to look outside their normal contacts and comfort zones. You just might find a business partner, staff member, or consultant who can expand your capabilities.
Pivoting Toward Technology for a Changing World
Consumer expectations shifted rapidly during the pandemic. For example, curbside pickup is here to stay, and “contactless payment” is now a frequently used term. Technology makes these changes possible.
Scanit is a new technology that reads QR and DRV codes from up to 60 feet away. QR code usage exploded during the pandemic. People used them to read menus, navigate sharing a check, and making payments. With social distancing guidelines now a part of everyday life, Scanit looked to create a way to use QR code tech to connect businesses and consumers in a touchless society.
The company’s technology works like a traditional QR reader. However, it’s more dynamic through scanning of direct response video (DRV) codes found on commercials, digital signage, and other visual media. Its brand partners can expand their reach to consumers with these codes in a way that’s safely distant and convenient. The tech works at a longer distance for optimal coronavirus prevention. Moreover, it is tied to rewards programs so advertisers can boost their engagement.
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Adapting Your Company to the Changing Times
Entrepreneurs should always consider the customer experience and engagement levels, as well as ways technology can improve both. Pivoting does not always mean shifting to a new product line or changing business models. It can mean changing how the business implements technology strategically.
From an accounting firm using Zoom to conduct billable consultations to a firm using AI to improve its supply chain, technology makes the pivot happen, whether it’s during the pandemic or the next crisis a company might face.