From Uncertainty to Conviction: How Reforge Inspired Pangea’s Pivot
Use cases: Business transformation, getting on the same page
Co-founder & CEO, Pangea
- Reforge equipped Adam and his team with a vetted approach to retention analysis, along with the tools to action it at their business.
- The retention analysis gave the Pangea team enough conviction to start a qualitative user interview initiative to test new value propositions.
- They pivoted their business, and it resulted in them winning Product of the Week on Product Hunt, doubling their LTV, 4x-ing their Net Dollar Retention, and reducing payback period by 85%.
Pangea is now a contract-to-hire platform for startups to find top talent, but they started as a college-focused freelance platform that had raised $3 million and graduated from Y Combinator in 2021. The mission of the company was to help college students land contract work. The company had scaled to 1,800 universities but had not seen the overall growth trajectory they were hoping for.
Pangea applied to Reforge about one year post-YC when they realized they were not on a sustainable growth trajectory. Adam Alpert, co-founder of Pangea, thought the issue was acquisition, but his position on that quickly changed after enrolling in the Reforge Growth Series; the original Reforge course built by Brian Balfour and Andrew Chen.
Retention is Key
The first topic of the Growth Series emphasizes the importance of retention and definition of your retention metric, measurement and analysis, engagement, activation, and resurrection; it then pairs all of this with actionable templates to apply the learnings.
Adam mentioned that he had heard that retention is extremely important while in YC, but Reforge reinforced this and provided a way for him to apply this advice and map out Pangea’s retention.
This was a lightbulb moment for Adam. He said, “I thought the solution to our growth issue was more acquisition, but this made me reconsider this and understand what was happening with our retention.” Using the frameworks, templates, and community from Reforge as guidance, Adam went to work.
Defining and Measuring Pangea’s Retention
Once Adam had defined this metric, he wanted to get a high-level analysis of Pangea’s retention as a whole. He followed the process that Reforge recommended: start with your standard retention curves. These curves are created by taking the average value of retention for each time period, and plotting it as a line graph.
Once plotted, retention curves can take one of four shapes:
- Slope towards X-axis, trending towards zero: This is an indication that, over time, you will lose 100% of the users that signed up in a time period. (Bad)
- Flat-ish, slight downward slope: it will take a very long time for retention to reach the x-axis and zero and suggests that some engagement optimizations can help shift this curve to be perfectly flat.
- Flat: implies that you will always retain a certain percentage of a starting cohort.
- Smile Curve: recovering a certain percentage of the cohort, and retaining them later in their lifecycle. (Great)
After Adam plotted Pangea’s retention curves he noticed, “Ours was somewhere between Bad and Ok. After a period of 12-18 months, it was flattening out. So we asked ourselves, what can we change to improve this?”
Making Big Bets: Pivoting Pangea
Visualizing Pangea’s retention curve was a powerful moment of realization for Adam. But a live Growth Series event with Lenny Rachitsky, founder of Lenny’s Newsletter and former Head of Supply Growth at Airbnb, pushed him towards full conviction for a pivot
Rachitsky spoke about how sometimes when things aren’t working, you need to make a big bold bet instead of smaller iterations. To illustrate this, the event explored a case study of one of these times at Airbnb.
Citing the event as inspiration, Adam said, “Our retention was far enough off that we knew we needed to be open to dramatic changes. We needed to make a big bold bet.”
At that point, Adam and his team started talking with customers. They spoke with hundreds of teams and talent, conducted interviews with multitudes of users, met with recruiting and staffing experts, and even launched some decoy brands with real websites to test some of their new positioning and value propositions.
After all of this, plus closing some new customers with actual revenue on the new concept, Adam felt they had the conviction they needed to go for this pivot.
The Results of Pangea’s Pivot
After conducting hundreds of interviews and pressure testing the concept with real customers, Pangea identified a different opportunity around a contract-to-hire talent marketplace.
They reduced friction in onboarding and paying by eliminating placement fees and offering curated talent open to it. In totality, here’s how Adam summarized the changes on their Product Hunt launch:
- Opened up Pangea to everyone who is looking to grow their career
- Dropped all talent-side fees and commissions to 0%, making them a commission-free talent marketplace
- They now verify companies before giving them access to the platform or allowing them to post jobs.
- … and more
By The Numbers
Pangea’s pivot yielded some impressive initial results, including:
Reduction in payback period
Net Dollar Retention
On top of that, Adam and the team relaunched Pangea on Product Hunt with their new model, winning both Product of the Day and Product of the Week.
The Reforge Investment
In summary, Adam conducted a thorough retention analysis and noted their retention wasn’t where it needed to be, gained inspiration from an event with Lenny Rachitsky, and as a result spoke with hundreds of teams and users as they gained conviction about needing to pivot.
“Without Reforge, I wouldn’t have put together this retention analysis and we likely wouldn’t have had the conviction we needed to pivot.”
Adam ended our interview talking about his perspective on the return on investment from a Reforge membership (video below). If you’re interested in investing in Reforge for your team to unlock similar transformational moments, learn more about Reforge for Teams here.