Startup Sherpa: Chris Dixon And Stickybits CEO Billy Chasen Talk About Pivoting (Part I)

Welcome to Startup Sherpa, a new show we are piloting on TechCrunch TV. Rather than have one of us at TechCrunch interview subjects, we thought we’d try something different. Startup Sherpa is more a conversation between founders that we get to listen in on. Super angel investor (Founder Collective) and Hunch founder Chris Dixon is our host, and in each episode he will be talking to other founders and investors about the challenges of building a startup.

Today, his guest is Billy Chasen, the CEO of Stickybits and the creator of chartbeat. Stickybits is an iPhone app which encourages you to check into products by scanning their barcodes. Originally, the idea behind Stickybits was broader and encouraged consumers to attach their own barcodes to objects and places, and use the app to upload photos, videos and messages which others can unlock by scanning the code. The app still does that, but the company recently pivoted to focus more on existing product barcodes and get brands to drive adoption through incentives and rewards.

In the first segment above, Dixon and Chasen talk about when it’s the right time to pivot, and whether that is even the right term to use. Chasen notes: “When you are running a company, . . . the path where you begin at is not necessarily where you end.” You have to listen to your customers, on the one hand. On the other, some of the best products are a result of CEOs who stubbornly refuse to pivot and lead consumers where they want them to go like Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg. When do you think a startup should change course and when should they hold firm?

We have two more Startup Sherpa segments with Stickybits which we will post soon about the challenges of trying to change consumer behavior and serving two masters at the same time (consumers and advertisers). Please let us know in comments which startup founders you’d like to see Dixon talk to in future episodes.

Update: Part II is up.