Here’s the Agenda for “The Power of the Pivot” on December 4

11/20/12Follow @wroush

Pivot (ˈpɪvət) n. Basketball: The stationary foot around which the ball handler is allowed to pivot without dribbling. Also: Figuratively, that on which some matter or result hinges or depends; a turning-point.

The first definition comes from the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition; the second comes from the Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia. (Both are courtesy of Wordnik.) As usual, though, the startup entrepreneurs are way ahead of the lexicographers. In Valley-speak, “pivot” is an action, usually undertaken by startups, and it means roughly “to develop a different technology or pursue a new market after you realize that your first plan isn’t working (or that there’s a better opportunity) and you still have some money in the bank.”

But while word usage continues to evolve at Internet speed, the old basketball definition of “pivot” still has a lot of resonance for entrepreneurs. As we’ll discuss at length at our big startup event The Power of the Pivot on December 4, the smartest type of startup pivot may be one that takes advantage of a company’s existing talents and experience, rather than simply starting from scratch.

Ann Miura-Ko, a partner at the early stage fund Floodgate, put it well in an interview with Xconomy last year. “The whole concept of a pivot is to keep one foot grounded and move the other foot,” she said. “[It's] taking one component of your business model and changing it somehow. There will be ripple effects on the other parts, but it’s really just one element that’s changing…If you are scrapping the entire thing, that’s not what I’m talking about.”

At our information-packed half-day event, you’ll hear insights from nearly a dozen startup founders, investors, and entrepreneurship thought leaders about how they stayed grounded while revamping their products to fit unforeseen realities. We’re really excited to to have Steve Blank as our featured keynote speaker at the event; he’s the originator of the “customer development” methodology used by hundreds of technology startups to keep fine-tuning their products until they find the right markets. As Steve writes: “A founder’s skill is knowing how to recognize new patterns and to pivot on a dime. At times the pattern is noise, and the vision turns out to be a hallucination. Knowing how to sort between vision and hallucination can avoid chaos inside your startup.”

Buy a ticket before Nov. 27 to take advantage of our special Thanksgiving rate of $85. That’s $90 below the regular registration rate.

We’re holding this event at PARC, the famed home of revolutionary technologies from the graphical user interface to the laser printer (and itself the product of a successful pivot back in the early 2000s). You can check out the details on our speakers and their pivot stories in this Nov. 7 story. Meanwhile, here’s the full rundown on the event.

The Power of the Pivot

1:00 – 2:00 Registration

2:00 – 2:05 Welcome & Opening Remarks
Wade Roush, Xconomy

2:05 – 2:20 CEO Keynote
Steve Hoover, CEO, PARC

2:20 – 2:50 Special Keynote
Steve Blank, author, The Startup Owner’s Manual

2:50 – 3:30 Panel 1: Business Model Pivots
Rich Aberman, Co-founder and COO, WePay
Andy Chen, Co-founder and VP of Strategic Partnerships, PowerReviews
Cheryl Yeoh, Founder and CEO, Reclip.it

3:30 – 3:50 Networking Break

3:50 – 4:30 Panel 2: Product and Technology Pivots
Conrad Burke, CEO, Innovalight
Sunil Nagaraj, Founder and CEO, Triangulate; Senior Associate, Bessemer Venture Partners
Will Price, CEO, Flite
Adam Wiggins, Chief Technology Officer and Co-founder, Heroku

4:30 – 4:45 Learning from Life Science Pivots
Leighton Read, Venture Partner, Alloy Ventures

4:45 – 5:00 Investor Keynote
Duncan Davidson, Managing Director, Bullpen Capital

5:00 – 6:00 Networking Reception

Wade Roush is a contributing editor at Xconomy. Follow @wroush

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