The ChirkHR Pivot

Admitting you made a mistake is difficult. Doubly so when you aren’t sure that it was a mistake.

But after a few months of running ChirkHR as an applicant tracking system, I think I made a mistake.

The Sales Safari

This lingering doubt caused me to go back to the market research to see what my potential customers were actually doing (this is part of the 30×500 Sales Safari, which I hope Amy Hoy releases outside of 30×500…). Anyways, mid-February I spent a few dozen hours researching, reading, and digging though the HR market to see why ChirkHR wasn’t working as well as I hoped.

I eventually came to the realization that an applicant tracking system was useful to them (good) but it became clear that it wouldn’t be a good fit for me and my company (bad). Needless to say, that week was a very depressing week.

But there was a glimmer of hope…

As part of my research Amy taught me to mark down topics and pains that came up over and over. From this I started to spot a new topic that I was both energized about but (more importantly) was something that I felt that would be a great fit for me.

This topic was employee training and development. Specifically, how human resources manages and makes decisions about training.

The Pivot

With this new topic, I dived deeper into my research and refined my vision of what ChirkHR would become. After reviewing my notes, I decided to pursue this new opportunity and pivot ChirkHR.

Code-wise this change was almost a complete rewrite of the software behind ChirkHR. The only parts I’ll be keeping from the old system was the account management system and the overall UI layout (present tense because I’m still running the old version for some customers behind a feature flipper).

Even though it’s a rewrite, since ChirkHR was little more than a MVP there wasn’t a lot of code I had to change for the pivot. This which allowed me to move fast and after a couple weeks of development, I released the new ChirkHR training features to the servers.

The business side of ChirkHR is pivoting too, but it’s less of a change than the software side. Yes, ChirkHR will be solving a different problem for a different set of customers but they are similar enough that much of the existing business systems will still work exactly as before. The biggest risk, as always with a young business, will be reaching potential customers.

The Next 6 months

I’ll be honest, I don’t know what the next six months will bring for ChirkHR. I have several changes I’m thinking about for the software and I’m starting to scale up the marketing machine again. But other than those vague directions, there is a lot of unknown out there for me.


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