The Agile Startup Week 18: Aligning for the Next Phase

Note: The Strategic Agility Institute has been following GILD Collective, a startup in the crafting industry, from its inception to its current adventures as a growing startup. Check out previous posts to get up to speed on this project. 

A view from the stage before Demo Day kicked off. Photo credit: Zackariah Cole Photography. 

A view from the stage before Demo Day kicked off. Photo credit: Zackariah Cole Photography. 

Last week, I reported how the GILD Collective team went through one of its biggest milestones to date: Demo Day. This was their opportunity to pitch their business to potential investors as the culmination of their journey with The Brandery, a top-notch business accelerator in Cincinnati. In my post last week, I mentioned how GILD Collective CEO Jessie Deye knocked that pitch out of the park. 

I’m fortunate to also have gained access to some wonderful photography of the event. All of these photos (including the image above) are courtesy of Zackariah Cole Photography

To start, I must include this one of me telling Jessie something wise, such as, “I just ate a lot of the free food here. I don’t recommend that you stuff your face, though, because you need to talk to potential investors now. And they don’t want to see your chewed up lunch.” 

Here are a few more of the event and the GILD Collective team talking with potential investors, with due credit given to Zackariah Cole Photography

So what have they been up to lately?

First, related to that pitch and Demo Day, they’ve been having many meetings with potential investors. That’s important, of course, because they need capital to continue growing quickly. The fact that they’re having those meetings demonstrates that investors are interested, so that’s certainly positive. 

Secondly, they’re spending time aligning their goals and priorities. They no longer have the distinct goal of Demo Day to work toward; instead, they need to focus in an increasingly strategic way on the future of the business. 

Related to their goals and priorities, they’ve created some internal categories of what needs to happen and assigned those tasks among themselves.

Jessie is tackling the fundraising and accounting area, while Kelsey Pytlik is working on digital technology and helping Rachel Bauer McCreary with building the community ambassador program while supporting the acquisition of new users. Rachel is managing the startup’s two interns in addition to the shipping component of their operations. 

The team’s ratings of volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity (VUCA) during the past week were slightly lower than during Week 17, but they’re anticipating some increases next week.    

Here are the summaries of their ratings of each aspect of VUCA. 

The team will, of course, continue to face new challenges each day. 

Most importantly, they’ll need to continue to “wow” their customers. But at the same time, they need to learn more about their customers continually so that they can respond accordingly. 

With a strong customer focus backed by a sustainable business model, they’ll be on their way to continued success. 

Be sure to check back in next week for another update from GILD Collective as they navigate the VUCA world of startups. 

About GILD Collective
GILD Collective is the brainchild of three friends—Kelsey Pytlik, Rachel Bauer McCreary and Jessie Deye. It’s a business focused on crafting, which happens to be about a $29 billion industry. GILD Collective seeks to join that industry by offering instructor-led craft parties, in which customers will pick the project, location and participants. GILD Collective will bring the supplies and expertise, allowing party participants to explore their creative sides and make something with their own hands. For more information, visit:

About The Strategic Agility Institute™
The Strategic Agility Institute™ (SAI) is a collaborative, global effort dedicated to the production and communication of agility-focused knowledge. We're building a community founded upon a common interest in helping people and organizations become agile and thrive in the face of volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity. For more information, visit: