Why We Made a Pivot with Startup Summit

There comes a point in every startup’s journey that they will make some type of pivot. Generally, the first time this happens is when they release their MVP into the market to a select group of users. Based on that feedback, startups will pivot until they find a sustainable business model that best suits a niche market. Some startups may do this 4 or more times until they find something that works.

Creating a conference is not much different from that. After talking with many entrepreneurs and executives they all agreed that this area could use a conference that gives crash course lessons on important topics (sales, marketing, funding, mindset, operations, etc..) that startups can apply to their business, role, or even themselves.

Armed with this new information, I started to plan the format for Startup Summit. After spending the next few weeks planning and seeing all the content we wanted to deliver, this had to be a two day conference. Next, I went out and engaged potential speakers that could expertly speak on a particular topic. Once that was finished, we uploaded everything to our website and released it for the world to see.

Things started off decent, but ticket reservations really slowed down after the initial push. Based on running events for 3+ years now, I understand that you have your early adopters and then most tickets don’t go until the event gets closer. It’s generally hard for people, especially startups, to make an early commitment because they have no idea what tomorrow holds let alone in 4 months.

Still, something felt off and my gut was telling me a different story. I was ignoring my instincts initially because we have really good speakers and amazing partners in NCSU, Oracle, and NC IDEA. As each day passed, the voice in my head got louder and louder that something wasn’t right. I needed to take action before I drive myself insane.

That’s when I went for a walk and started thinking about my target audience. I was thinking to myself that I’m a startup entrepreneur and would love to attend a conference like this. Of course, bias comes into play, so I went back to the office and started emailing all the entrepreneurs in my network. In the email I asked, what do you think of this conference? and what would prevent you from going? Most everyone’s answer to the first question was, they loved the format, but the answer to the second one was what I was really looking for. Every entrepreneur said that they couldn’t commit to a two day conference.

That was the answer my gut was seeking. My next thought was how can I be so stupid as to expect these founders and startup teams to leave their hustle for two days. I’ve been in their shoes and there was no way I would want to take my focus away from my company for that long. I quickly gathered my team and we started to explore alternative formats. We threw around many different options, but there was only one that made the most sense.

We had to pivot and make this a 1 day conference to meet the needs of our target audience. We adjusted the format and created an explosive 1 day conference that will meet the needs of startups without compromising content or quality. As with traditional startups, we made a pivot after releasing our initial concept and getting feedback from our target audience. I’m sure I could have saved myself a step initially by asking them that second question early on, but the number of days never factored into my thought process. Lesson learned 🙂

“The one lesson I want you to take away from this article is to always trust your gut no matter what. In startup mode, you’re going to face many forks in the road, but let your instincts guide you towards the correct path. It will be right more times than not.”

If you’re interested in the conference, check out our new format and ticket prices by clicking here

We’re looking forward to seeing you all on 10/16/18 at NCSU Hunt Library.

Keep Grinding,


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