You can learn this from 5 companies that have successfully changed course
Change course. It is a radical decision. But also the best you could ever have made. That applies at least to the five companies below. Their change, of course, became a resounding success.
From unemployed project to a multi-million dollar company
In 1982 unemployed Bob and his wife Carla started their first thrift store “Goedzooi”. What started as an unemployed project grew into a successful wage-forming company, with 26 thrift stores. Despite the success of the stores, Bob saw that developments were taking place that could hit the company (now called Het Goed) hard. Classified advertisements from private individuals appeared on the internet. And just having a store was no longer enough. You needed an online strategy for survival. So Bob went looking for a second-hand trade website. Because why wouldn’t he benefit from this new trend? He and his partners saw opportunities to combine the store and internet sales by offering unsold items online. Bob found Marktplaats.nl and was lucky. The owner, Rene van Mullem, wanted to sell the site. The rest is history. Bob and his partners bought the website in 1999 for 600,000 guilders and sold it to eBay five years later. For 224.5 million euros.
Learning: don’t be put off by new developments, take advantage of it.
From dating site to the world’s largest video platform
In 2005, Jawed Karim, Steve Chen and Chad Hurley came up with the idea of starting a website where singles could share videos about themselves to find the right partner. The name of this video platform? YouTube. At least, that’s how we know the platform now. At the time it was called “Tune In, Hook Up”. The dating platform was launched on Valentine’s Day. But unfortunately. Five days after the launch, nobody, except owner Jawed Karim, had uploaded a video. Even against payment ($ 20 per video), nobody wanted to upload a video. Then the trio decided it was time to admit all types of video. A golden handle. Today, no fewer than 300 hours of videos are uploaded per minute.
Learning: don’t just focus on niche markets, but always look at the bigger picture.
From role play to photo platform
Sometimes the product is not a bestseller, but part of it is an international hit. That happened to Flickr. When the company was first launched in 2004, it was something very different from the high-quality photo platform as we know it today. It was then still an online role-play called “Game Neverending”. In this game, users could buy and sell items, communicate in real time with other users via chat and … share photos. When the makers saw that large numbers of photos were being shared through the game, they realized that they had solved a much larger problem. The role play was put back on the shelf and Flickr was born.
Learning: part of an idea or product can already be a solution in itself.
From sub to the main activity
The concept of a daily deal, which is only activated when enough users sign up for it, was never really intended as the main activity of Groupon. In fact, Groupon was just a secondary project for The Point, a platform that generated funding for social projects. Nevertheless, it turned out that the day deals appealed more to users than the social concept of the platform. And so Groupon became the main activity.
Learning: a concept or idea can make the difference in a different market.
From a good to a great idea
Instagram proves that the team can sometimes be more important than the product itself. Founder Kevin Systrom started Burbn to learn to program. In addition to his job as a marketer, he wanted to try whether he could combine the elements of Foursquare and Mafia Wars in a mobile HTML5 app. Investors liked the idea and Systrom got a budget to add someone to the team: co-founder Mike Krieger. Burbn had a few passionate daily users, but it was not yet the success that the two hoped for. So Kevin and Mike decided to review their product. They discovered that people often first edited the photos they post through editing programs to improve quality. With that idea, they had found their new focus. In a week, the first version was ready and they asked 100 of their Burbn users for their opinion. It was a great success. More than 100,000 users registered for the new app “Instagram” in the first week.
Learning: think about your product regularly and go back to the drawing board if necessary.
As you have read, there are various reasons for changing course. Companies such as Flickr and Het Goed discovered that their product needed to be adjusted. Groupon and YouTube did have the right product but realized it