When a startup hits a market brick wall and has enough cash and investor confidence to change direction radically, it’s a Mike Maples (high level) ‘pivot’. Essentially: a market-driven strategic shift.
When a startup uses early customer feedback to drive its next product/service iteration, it’s an Eric Ries (low level) ‘pivot’. Essentially: a test-customer-driven tactical change.
However, when an entrepreneur suddenly grasps a significantly deeper aspect of the complex relationship between his/her startup, its people, its technology, its market and the underlying societal trends it’s betting on, that’s an epiphany. This may or may not lead to a pivot: but it certainly enriches all aspects of the startup by joining them together in a more connected, thought-provoking way. Essentially: an intuition-driven change of mind and heart.
Having just had such an epiphany yesterday, I can tell you it’s both exciting (because it helps you see your startup’s future roadmap more clearly) and unnerving (because it helps you see what you should have been doing differently in the past). While it’s happening to you, though, it feels as though the ground (specifically the “ground truth”) of your startup is shifting beneath your feet.
The background to my epiphany: having just read a long LinkedIn discussion exchange on latency in IP pan/tilt/zoom cameras (don’t glaze over, I’ll get to the point quickly enough), I suddenly realized why I disagreed with almost every single contribution to the exchange. Informed by 25 years experience developing computer games, I simply could not see how the latency introduced by state-of-the-art video compression techniques (such as MPEG and H.264) could ever be acceptable for interactive control of PTZ cameras. In what I see as an increasingly interactive world, this kind of video compression comes over as anti-trend.
But from there I suddenly grasped how my long background in the computer games industry made me ideally placed to be designing and building a new PTZ camera – for this too is an interactive video system (albeit one without Sonic the Hedgehog and Mario to help sell it). And from there it became clear to me that the tiny board I’m currently bringing to life is at heart an industrial games console. And from there I saw that a key part of Nanodome’s vision should be to make its PTZ cameras more interactive, rather than go anti-trend just to fit into the IP ‘new world order’.
So now I have a brand new set of thoughts to help me respond to the presentation deck provocation: “Why are you so uniquely qualified to meet this business challenge, to take it all the way to market and beyond?” Today’s answer: “because I have one foot each in the computer game and security camera worlds, I’m perfectly placed to design and build properly interactive PTZ cameras”. OK, as answers go this is still a work-in-progress: but you can at least see where I’m going with it.
Have you had a startup epiphany recently?
Comments on: "Pivots vs epiphanies…" (4)
Nice insight. Would have been even more unnerving if the epiphany had prompted you to serve a different industry/need e.g. new game controller?
Jorge: the biggest reason it was an epiphany was that it brought together lots of varied strands that I hadn’t previously thought of as interconnected, but which actually were – and in ways I ought to have worked out over the previous three years of starting up. But all the same, the insight that the central board is (in effect) an “industrial games console” does allow me to point the raw technology at all kinds of other markets if I want. So, a new game controller? Sure, why not? 😉
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