With so much uncertainty due to the pandemic at the end of 2019 and beginning of 2020, it would have been hard to believe the year we’ve had and even harder to acknowledge that at this point, I would be thankful for 2021 and how COVID put PivotCX on the path to success.
The Beginning of the End…
Last March, my start-up PivotCX (formerly known as WorkHere), had an awful, terrible, horrible month.
When COVID-19 hit, we lost 85% of our revenue.
It was a business nightmare! I dreaded answering the phone. One after another, customers would call, apologize for canceling, and blame the pandemic — nothing else we could do about it.
But why? Our software was terrible. It was so bad we had started a live chat service to operate the software, so our customers didn’t have to. I thought long and hard about shutting it down.
Things were so uncertain in April of 2020; no one knew what would happen with COVID. At the time, there were no vaccines and even fewer answers.
All but three of our best long-term accounts left us. Then, our VP of Sales and CTO both left the company.
To make matters worse, we were close to running out of money. I had to shift gears and build new software since we didn’t have money for a development team.
Looking back on it, I’m not surprised by the cancellations. Our product was a poorly executed “Yelp for Jobs,” and it was 100% extra during the pandemic. The company was in zombie mode; churn numbers were high, and the product delivered little value versus every other job board.
Consequently, we talked to the three accounts that stayed onboard. In all cases, the customer used our live human chat service to engage job applicants right after applying. Just think, you apply on Indeed, and you get a text message a few seconds later and can immediately talk to someone about your application. The service wasn’t sexy: it was high touch, and everyone was in love with AI and chatbots.
As I talked to these three customers, three themes came out:
- First, our service was critical to our customer’s business in the pandemic.
- Second, our customers were saving incredible amounts of time by having our chat teams handle everything from application to interview.
- And last of all, EVERYONE liked having live people the candidates could talk to and ask questions. It was a huge competitive advantage for our customers and it helped them differentiate them from their competitors who deployed chatbots.
On the Path to Success
Instead of closing down, my remaining cofounder, Howard Bates, and I decided we would take the rest of 2020 to make new software and see if we could make something great happen.
To put PivotCX on a path to success, we scraped together enough to hire a junior developer. Then we decided to build our new software by working closely with our three remaining customers. They told us what they needed, and we built it.
By January of this year, we had $5,300 in revenue. Our expenses were nearly four and a half times revenue. We only had a few months of runway left. Our software was almost ready.
So, we did what any self-respecting entrepreneurs would do: hit the launch button.
What a launch it was!
By July, we had hit $50,000 in monthly revenue.
In October, we were at $80,000.
We’re now closing in on our first $100,000 month.
2021 has been nothing short of a miracle. Every day it feels like we are zeroing in on something special. It turns out enabling a better experience from apply-to-hi, and hi-to-hired for recruiters and job seekers is game-changing.
COVID-19 provided us an opportunity to shift our focus, and put PivotCX on the path to success, but without listening to our customers, we could not have made it.
To the customers that stayed with us, Thank You for inspiring and guiding us.