Pivoting Strategies: A Study of Pivot Severity, Investor Reliance, and Revenue among Startups

Date
2022-01-04
Authors
Bandera, Cesar
Thomas, Ellen
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Abstract
“Pivoting”, or a strategic shift in the direction of a venture, may be one of the most recognizable terms in entrepreneurship. Although this term has entered the entrepreneurial lexicon, very little is known about the causal impact that pivoting has on new venture performance. Some studies suggest that pivoting can have positive effects on performance while others suggest that executing too many pivots can adversely impact it. This paper seeks to better understand the impact of multiple pivots on the likelihood of revenue by investigating the moderating roles of pivot severity (the degree to which a pivot represent a market shift) and reliance on investors. We investigate the impact of multiple pivots on revenue, distinguishing between high-tech vs low-tech startups and between mild vs severe pivots. We also investigate the impact that equity investments have on the pivot-revenue relationship of high-tech firms. Using change in a venture’s NAICS code as a proxy for pivoting, we show an inverted-U relationship between magnitude of pivots and the likelihood of revenue among Kauffman Firm Survey participants. Among high-tech firms, this relationship differs based on the firm’s reliance on investors. This longitudinal empirical study on the relationship between pivot magnitude, investor reliance, and revenue aims to attract attention to this important topic of entrepreneurship, and help the entrepreneur facing the difficult decision of whether or not to pivot.
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Innovation and Entrepreneurship: Theory and Practice, longitudinal, pivot, revenue, startup, strategy
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