Ep 32: How to fail fast and pivot – with Justin Clune

Justin CluneOne thing most entrepreneurs have in common is failing. When you start a business, it is extremely rare to get it right the first time. The problem is that the vast majority of entrepreneurs are too slow to fail, and ultimately end up shutting down their business. However, for those who are fast enough to review their initial assumption, they can do what’s called a “pivot”. In the startup jargon, a pivot consists of leveraging the company’s current position and adopting a different strategy based on a whole new set of assumptions.

I was so thrilled to sit with my guest this week as I believe he is the perfect example of how a good pivot should look like. His name is Justin Clune and he’s the Co-founder CEO of HouseCare, a marketplace for house cleaning services. The timing couldn’t be better for HouseCare. With Airbnb on the rise in Japan, they can benefit from this booming market who needs on-demand cleaning services.

Justin first started working with his co-founder after participating to Startup Weekend, a 54-hour weekend event where people go from zero to launch. Justin explains how he tried to convince his team to keep on working on the project beyond the event. Their initial idea was actually called MommyCare, providing babysitting services as company’s benefits. He shares with us his what were his initial assumptions and how he hustled to find his first paying clients.

Eventually, he realized that this wouldn’t work for the Japanese market and engaged his company in a new direction. He explains how the pivot took place, step by step. But pivoting is not as easy as it seems. We tend to have a cognitive bias regarding our past actions and it is increasingly hard to change our mind after we’ve invested time and money into something. So I’m asking Justin about how other people can be sure when it’s time to take another business direction. Justing also gives away great pieces of advice to other entrepreneurs facing similar situations.

Questions: When can a startup know it’s time to pivot? Would you consider working as an independant contractor? (reply in the comments)

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  • (3:36) Introduction of Justin
  • (6:55) First concept: MommyCare
  • (9:43) HouseCare surfing the Airbnb ride
  • (14:35) Retention through quality control
  • (21:24) Business dependency
  • (23:15) Women empowerment and employees benefits
  • (32:36) Launching the business after Startup Weekend
  • (35:40) Focusing on paying customers
  • (37:04) Pivot
  • (41:22) Independent contractors and legal issues
  • (45:35) Are full time employees dead?
  • (48:21) Quick-fire questions

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