Lessons Learned from Startup 2012: Have the Guts to 'Pivot'

By Juliana Kenny May 03, 2012

Opening the Business Insider’s Startup 2012 event this morning at the New World Stages right off of Times Square in New York City was Jason Goldberg, CEO of Fab.com, the alarmingly successful start-up business based on the simple notion of “good design.”

In a sit-down interview with the Business Insider’s CEO and Editor-in-Chief, Henry Blodget, Goldberg revealed how he “pivoted from failed concept to the world’s fastest-growing startup,” quite literally as that notion headlined his talk.

Goldberg revealed some of his personal business secrets that sounded quite basic to those in the audience who have not had the fortune of captaining a successful startup. “If you can’t get your friends to use [your product] then you can’t expect the rest of the world to use it,” he noted to begin. Well, duh, right? But what happens when that initial product you had doesn’t work anymore?

A business decision-maker has to be invested in rethinking his or her product, intimated Goldberg. This idea of rethinking, revisiting your original brilliant product idea, and then “pivoting” to create something anew can be daunting and downright terrifying for most CEOs or presidents of companies, no matter the size. Yet it is a vital part of business progress later reemphasized by Arianna Huffington in her interview with Blodget.

“If you make a bold decision, you make it once, and you go for it,” said Goldberg. “One big piece of advice: You can’t iterate your way to a business model. You have to rethink your business. Go walk in the woods, go out to dinner, go spend time to think and say ‘What are we doing here?’ And if it’s not working, come up with something else.”

Fab.com had 10 employees last year at this time, and now it has 165. That explosive example of growth is a result of Goldberg’s internal pivoting and redesigning, as well as an example of the demand for his product.

“We went to designers before we launched the site and said, ‘We want to build the best place in the world to sell design products.’ And the designers said, ‘If you have the audience, we have the products,’” said Goldberg. The designers out there who had these great products ready to show the world were itching for a community in which to do so. Fab.com pounced.

With the explosion of the mobile scene as well, Goldberg now has to plan for exponential growth. “How do we go from 5 or 6 million users to 10 – 12 million users to 30 million users?” he asked. “How do we build a lifetime value for customers?” He indicated that his business is an “emotional” one backed up by numbers, but wants to drive the business to the point where customers think Fab.com when they think of design.

Having just launched in 16 countries across Europe, Goldberg seems to be on the right track. 




Edited by Stefanie Mosca

TechZone360 Managing Editor

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