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What's your favorite pivot?
What's your favorite pivot?

Profiles and Q&As

What's your favorite pivot?

Five VCs and accelerators share their favorite portfolio company pivots.

Written by Meridian Team

Startup: Rupa Health allows root-cause clinicians to order and manage lab tests for patients.

Firm: Hustle Fund invests in pre-seed and seed-stage startups.

Who: Eric Bahn, co-founder and general partner

When I started working with Tara, the amazing CEO of Rupa, she was creating support groups for patients suffering chronic issues who wanted to find healing through alternative care. She found an interesting market to serve, but not the right solution; there wasn’t really a business model in the patient circles.

Over 18 months, Tara and I checked in with each other. I saw her run endless experiments within the root cause space. It was a really lonely time, but she was passionate. Eventually she realized that there was a huge opportunity supporting labs and tests.

It was marvelous to see how she performed this pivot so successfully. As an investor, it made me appreciate that supporting the right founder is really everything — it’s on these founders to run experiments, gather data, and try new things (especially so early on) to land on what truly matters.

What's your best pivoting advice?

You should embrace that things can change a lot, but you have to trust your own smarts. Your investors have to trust that you will do everything possible to work on the right problem and deliver huge outcomes for everyone.


Startup: Potion is a premium ayurvedic brand.

Firm: Techstars is a pre-seed investor and accelerator.

Who: Matt Kozlov, managing director

Cimeran Kapur entered Techstars knowing that her consumer health business Communikind, needed to pivot. Apple Health had just announced its new direction in family health management. Despite already building out core app technology and onboarding several hundred families, Communikind was suddenly struggling to close its pre-seed round.

That’s when I met Cimeran. She was a unique, qualified, and mission-oriented founder. I was struck by her determination. She had a long history working in healthcare and as a researcher. While she was training to be a doctor, Cimeran was diagnosed with life-threatening cancer. After leaving medicine to undergo various cancer therapies, she started Communikind. I decided to take a bet on her as a founder to pivot the business in a new direction.

During the first month of Techstars, Cimeran pitched dozens of pivot ideas to hundreds of mentors — all focused on iterating the current technology she’d invested so much into building. Ironically, everyone was more interested in how she was healing from cancer. Cimeran began to share how her health had continued to decline, despite exhausting traditional cancer treatments.

More treatments came with debilitating side effects and put her at higher risk of other types of cancers. She turned to Ayurveda, India’s 5,000-year-old holistic medicine practice, to rebuild her immunity. She found her way to a concoction of research-backed Ayurvedic herbs and spices that she began taking daily. To the surprise of her medical team, her cancer markers began decreasing for the first time since her diagnosis.

Her mentor community suggested building an Ayurveda brand. She conducted a paid beta research program for several weeks. Over 90% of participants reported improved energy, sleep, and a desire to purchase the product after the program. Potion was born.


Startup: Atlas helps remote, international employees deal with taxes, benefits, and billing.

Firm: Pioneer is an online startup accelerator and community for founders from around the world.

Person: Mishka Orakzai, community

At the start of the pandemic, Karen Serfaty was working on Palabra by herself in Argentina. Palabra, which was Segment for email, was selected as part of Pioneer’s startup accelerator in April 2020. Soon after joining, the company reached 1,000 users, expanded to a team of nine, and joined the LAUNCH accelerator.

Despite the early success, Karen felt that she didn’t have product-market fit. She felt distracted by a problem she and her team understood more deeply. They’d been international contractors for a decade, and taxes and healthcare had always been a struggle. They decided to make a pivot and started selling subscriptions before they even had a product; their ARR grew to $400k in just a few short months.

Today, their new company Atlas helps international contractors with taxes and billing. With over 1,000 paying customers, Atlas recently raised a seed round of $1.2M from investors including Pioneer, Claire Hughes Johnson, and Laura Behrens Wu.


Startup: Branch provides deep linking and attribution solutions for mobile brands.

Who: Pear VC invests in pre-seed and seed-stage companies.

Since 2014, Branch has provided deep linking and attribution solutions for over 100,000 mobile brands, including GrubHub, Strava, and even Reddit. But the journey to its current success was not straightforward. Originally, founders Alex Austin, Mada Seghete, Mike Molinet, and Dmitri Gaskin started Kindred, a photo-book printing app.

However, in marketing their app, they soon realized that there was a gap in the market for deep linking technology for mobile applications. Deep linking makes it easy to navigate between apps. The team pivoted.

Since then, Branch has raised over $600M and has grown rapidly. Their story is a testament to the importance of recognizing opportunities and being willing to pivot in order to succeed.


Startup: Zipline designs, manufactures, and operates delivery drones.

Fund: Lerer Hippeau is an early-stage venture capital fund.

Who: Eric Hippeau, managing partner

In 2011, we invested in Zipline. Today, Zipline is a multi-billion-dollar company using robotics and autonomous systems to operate the world’s largest instant delivery system. But Zipline wasn’t always this successful. In fact, the company was first founded as Romotive, a children’s toy robotics company.

Since the day we met him, we knew founder Keller Rinaudo Cliffton was special. We also knew that it would be extremely challenging to build, market, and sell children’s toys — even though Keller’s vision was impressive.

By 2013, the team realized that the robotics industry was moving much faster than anticipated. They wouldn’t be able to have the impact they’d originally planned for. They began to search for the highest impact work they could do. After months of talking with customers and exploring technical approaches, Keller and the team landed on the vision of an autonomous delivery system that moves goods around as quickly and efficiently as the internet moves information. And they decided to make a pivot.

Keller has since made good on that vision, inking numerous partnerships that make Zipline the premier provider of medicine, medical supplies, nutrition, and animal health products to a number of African countries, U.S. retailers, and even to Toyota in Japan. Zipline recently completed over 500,000 autonomous instant deliveries.

What’s your best pivoting advice?

When pivoting, choose an area where you have significant advantages for success. You’ll also need to have established trust with your investors and have enough capital left to test your idea.

When testing your idea, try to arrive at a conclusion quickly. Otherwise, consider returning your money.

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