Case Detail

Case Summary

VMock: Pivoting to Succeed and Scale in a Technology Startup Company

Case Number: 5-317-504, Year Published: 2017, Revision Date: March 26, 2018

HBS Number: KE1036

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Authors: Mohanbir Sawhney; Pallavi Goodman

Key Concepts

Direct Marketing, Distribution Channels, E-Commerce, Entrepreneurship, Growth Strategy, Marketing Strategy, Social Media, Strategic Alliances, Scaling, Startup


In 2010, Salil Pande founded VMock, an online product that helped MBA students prepare for job interviews. Students could upload their video interviews and get feedback from mentors and peers. Four years later, VMock pivoted from an interview feedback product to a "Smart Resume" product that focused on improving resumes. The pivot was based on the insight that job candidates first needed help fixing their resumes before they could obtain and prepare for interviews. Further, the interview feedback product was difficult to scale as it relied on human feedback. The Smart Resume product, on the other hand, was powered by machine learning and artificial intelligence technology, making it more scalable and allowing VMock to evolve its offering from a product to a platform for managing careers. VMock had forged strong relationships with top business schools in the United States and Europe and its Smart Resume platform had been well received by the market.

Now Salil and his wife (and head of product development), Kiran, had to determine the next step in the company's evolution. They realized that the time had come to take their business to the next level. But they were faced with several options on how to go about scaling VMock. Should they market directly to consumers or should they use partners to scale their user base? Should they create a solution for employers to help them recruit and manage talent? What revenue streams should they focus on to maximize growth and profitability? These strategic decisions would be key to the survival and growth of VMock.

Learning Objectives

After reading and analyzing the case, students will be able to: recognize the importance of pivoting in the survival and evolution of a startup firm; understand the critical strategic decisions in growth and scaling of a startup firm; evaluate potential revenue streams and go-to-market strategies for a startup firm in a two-sided market; and conduct comparative financial analyses of B2C and B2B2C strategies that a startup firm is considering.

Number of Pages: 19

Extended Case Information

Teaching Areas: Strategy

Teaching Note Available: Yes

Geographic: India; United States; Global

Industry: Technology startup; e-commerce

Organization Name: VMock

Decision Maker Position: Founder

Decision Maker Gender: Male

Year of Case: 2017