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Immigrate to Innovate: The American "Pivot"

Pivot. It’s one of those dirty little words we’ve all banned from our vocabulary by now. But, in other parts of the world, pivoting a product or idea is as foreign of a concept as the languages spoken there.

In the emerging startup communities of Germany, for example, startups are said to suffer from "Ingenieurs-Mentalität,” the “developer mentality." For these startups, failure is not an option. If you’ve failed once, you are a failure and are expected to enter the corporate workforce.

On the flip-side, Americans view failure as experience earned towards success. Yet the culture of endless pivots comes with its own pitfalls and hard lessons.

As a European entrepreneur moving his startup to the U.S., Bastian Lehmann discusses the pros and cons of these cultural differences, how he successfully pivoted his company, and how Postmates is planning to take what they’ve learned and return to the homeland.

Additional Supporting Materials


  1. How does the German startup mindset differ from that of the American startup mindset?
  2. Why did pivoting get such a bad wrap, anyway?
  3. Should you pitch your product to American and European investors differently?
  4. Is perfectionism an asset or a liability in a startup CEO?
  5. Where would well-known German startups that gave up, be today if they simply tweaked their product and went in a different direction?



Bastian Lehmann, Co-founder and CEO, Postmates

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