The Agile Startup Week 14: A Pivot, a Widget and a $5,000 Check

Note: The Strategic Agility Institute is following GILD Collective, a startup in the crafting industry, as it goes through a nationally recognized startup accelerator. Check out previous posts to get up to speed on this project.

Sometimes the calendar looms larger than during other times. For example, if you had to stand up in front of a bunch of powerful people and justify how what you’ve been doing for the past 16 weeks is worthy of their attention and money, you’d be keenly aware of the date of that presentation. You’d be thinking about it considerably; it’d always be in the back of your mind.

So it is for GILD Collective, the crafting-industry startup that’s pioneering a better way for women to get together and create something beautiful in a fun, confidence-boosting experience.

The date they’re thinking about a lot these days is two weeks from tomorrow, a day innocuously labeled “Demo Day.” This is when GILD Collective and their fellow startups at the Cincinnati-based startup accelerator The Brandery will have the opportunity to pitch their businesses to a group of investors.

But at the same time, the GILD Collective team must carry on with their business—continually learning about their customers and driving toward sustainable growth.

So aside from all the work going on regarding getting ready for Demo Day, this week’s update is about three things: a pivot, a widget and a $5,000 check.

First, the pivot.

For the past 14 weeks, the team has been experimenting with various ways to please their customers in a way that will make money. They’ve also been looking at how they can do that in a way that allows them to grow quickly.

This latter consideration—scalability—is one of the factors that recently went into the team’s decision to focus more on hostess-led crafting parties, moving away from the strict focus on instructor-led parties. In fact, moving forward, GILD Collective will only have in-person instructors for their “Artisan Series” projects.

This allows the firm to have more direct control over instruction, as they’ll be putting together the videos and written materials that people will use to make their crafts. They’ll also be able to move more quickly into new markets, as they won’t need to recruit, select and train new instructors in each new area.

Speaking of new areas, the widget.

Now that they have the freedom to expand into a wider range of new markets, they have to choose where to go next. They’re not limited to a city-by-city expansion plan, but they’re trying to get a sense of where some of their target customers might be located—or at least a sense of places where there might be some energy around the GILD Collective concept.

So, they have a voting widget. You can use it to vote on locations. Check it out and feel free to vote for a city. 

Finally, the $5,000 check.

The GILD Collective team was pleased to find out late last week that they were the winners of $5,000 of advisory, accounting and tax support through the regional program Cincinnati Innovates.

And yes, they did get a big check to hold for an obligatory photo.

The team’s ratings of volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity during the past week were similar to those in Week 13, although they perceive some increases being possible in the future.

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

The team continues to push through VUCA, even when it’s tough.

It’s notable that the pivot mentioned above—moving away from an instructor-led model—was one that the team had to wrestle with considerably prior to making a final decision. Like most ambiguous situations, you can have several smart people—in this case, three smart people—all looking at the same situation but coming to different conclusions about what exactly to do next.

But what’s admirable about GILD Collective is how they debated but then decided and—most importantly—all agreed to faithfully implement the decision. That type of professionalism and maturity is less common among executive teams than you may think, at least from my experience. And yet the GILD Collective team was able to move through that conversation into a mode of execution.

This ability to coalesce and press on even when it’s tough might be a key source of strength for this budding startup. If nothing else, dealing with adversity allows people and teams to deal with adversity even better the next time it strikes.

And if you’re a startup, of course, adversity can strike at any moment, in the most unexpected ways.

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: www.gildcollective.com.

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: www.strategicagilityinstitute.com.