Keeping the Early-Stage Startup Nimble
Launching a successful MVP assumes that you’re solving the right problem. But can you pivot if you aren't?
In March of 2020, a person I follow on Twitter, let’s call her Lex, caught COVID-19. Well, a lot of the people that I follow in New York and the west coast caught the virus in the early weeks, but this isn’t about them, or even the virus. To say that Lex had a rough couple of weeks is a bit of an understatement, but the story is really about the one (1) hospital bill that she missed because of a change of address, sending the bill into collections, causing a dent in her credit score.
We all know that the U.S. healthcare system is broken. And while some of us don’t have to think about this daily, many people do. In fact, Lex’s own parents went bankrupt due to medical bills. Even if you are able to pay them off, missing just one can be ruinous. So Lex quit her job a month later and started Billbox, later renamed Peachy Pay.
Peachy Pay launched on 4/20 the next year. The launch was a little underwhelming – there was a disconnect between the vigor leading up to the launch about eliminating collections agency and the launch felt, well, like a collection agency. The GTM strategy was to market to providers rather than the patients it claimed to serve.
Ok, that’s fine, this is the MVP. Healthcare providers need to adopt the platform, investors need to see traction.
Anyway, a year later, there’s a big pivot.
Pivot! Pivot! Pivot!
The April 2022 investor report is an interesting read as it gives us a peek under the hood of the original product strategy.
“When reflecting on the early traction we were having with our MVP (Peachy Pay), it was obvious that we were just approaching the conversation from the wrong angle and quickly getting wrapped into building tools that primarily benefited providers. Peachy Patients is us realigning around our original mission.”
Immediately, Peachy Pay is now Peachy Patients, with a focus realignment back onto the patient. “For patients, by patients.” This realignment also needed a new brand. It ends up being crowdsourced, which strangely seems to vibe with the company’s values.
Within a few weeks a whole new site was created on Webflow. Aside from some whacky IA that still links to peachypatients.webflow.io, you wouldn’t know how fast it came to be. In addition to all of the original resources from Peachy Pay, the team added a section with a filter of other companies and organizations whose ethos align with Peachy. It really felt like a step in the right direction for a company that was originally built as a platform to empower patients to navigate the mess of our healthcare system.
Speaking of a mess of a [insert noun here] in this country, earlier this month, there was the SCOTUS opinion leak. While many (rightfully) lost their minds over this leak, Lex and her team got to work. In just over 24 hours, they pulled together content, designed, and launched a landing page that is end-to-end abortion-related resources and information, again, entirely in Webflow. Likely they would have released this content over time, but their quick and thorough response was a real commitment to the Peachy mission.
Ok I don’t think it’s gonna pivot anymore
This is neat. Not just the content and resources, but the willingness to trash what hasn’t worked (or would be difficult to scale) from a product strategy level all the way through branding. The move to a patient-focused approach is a risky one, but by focusing on why the product exists in the first place, they were able to find clarity. Peachy assumes that by putting the patient experience first, they will in turn become advocates for the platform and drive sales to providers via referrals.
Of course, an early-stage startup has more flexibility to reinvent itself, but reinvention always begins with introspection. Are we solving the right problem? Is this the right approach? Have we lost our way? These questions will always point you to your North Star. Peachy is still early in the realignment process, but I think this new direction is going to work out for the best.