Pivoting a Product Market Fit

Killian Brackey

Co-founder and CTO at Sezzle


Dealing with Many Priorities

A few months after I joined my company, I found an issue with the prioritization within the organization. At that time, we were doing a significant amount of testing to try and find the correct product-market fit. The most priorities were listed from most important to least: increasing sales and impressions were at the top while increasing cost savings for merchants was towards the bottom.

Our company wasn’t seeing the growth we wanted to, and we kept coming back to a single data point: that users preferred credit to debit due to the rewards. We initially thought it was a preference issue but later started thinking about it in terms of accessibility. We had a unique opportunity to test our product where users would receive a certain percentage of cashback if they used it.

Experimentation with Specific Merchants

Innovation Provokes Answers:

We partnered with a few of our merchants, asking them if we could put up different installment options to test our product. Once we received the go-ahead, we implemented these changes and found that the impressions were night and day. Although we didn’t have a product yet, seeing the large increase in traffic to our platform was strong validation that we needed to pivot.

It was difficult to make the decision to shut our company down for a few months to replatform and rebuild our product. We knew that we needed to come to the market with a new strategy – so we did. Those two months were difficult, although very productive. After they passed, we launched a new product that worked with installment payments. We marketed it to our current customer base, and the company continued to grow.

Technical and People Management:

After we relaunched our product, we noticed that we nailed the product-market fit. Our job was no longer to find that, but instead, to scale it. From that point on, the job of leading the team changed around every six months.

At one point, I was developing code, managing vendors, expectations, and the people side of things. The growth, organization, and values of the team were probably the most important part of the process moving forward. I approached people management in a similar way I built a product: by testing, applying, and then iterating.

Wearing Many Hats:

As my company grows, I’ve worn many hats and performed many roles. At one point, I spent much of my time answering support tickets and conducting the accounting. When I began to grow my team, it was empowering to hand these roles off to others that were far better than I was at it. It also meant that my job broadened and narrowed at the same time, focusing on specific details while managing the larger org.

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Killian Brackey

Co-founder and CTO at Sezzle

Leadership DevelopmentCommunicationOrganizational StrategyEngineering ManagementPerformance MetricsFeedback TechniquesTechnical ExpertiseCareer GrowthIndividual Contributor RolesTeam & Project Management

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