The Agile Startup Week 16: Let’s Pitch This!

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. 

GILD Collective co-founders (from left): Kelsey Pytlik, Rachel Bauer McCreary, Jessie Deye. 

GILD Collective co-founders (from left): Kelsey Pytlik, Rachel Bauer McCreary, Jessie Deye. 

Demo Day is this Wednesday, Oct. 7. And GILD Collective is ready—ready to pitch what they’ve done and how they plan to continue in an attempt to attract another round of capital.  

During the past 16 weeks, GILD Collective has participated in an intense program of business creation and growth as members of a cohort of startups at The Brandery, a business accelerator based in Cincinnati. From the start, one of the biggest dates on the team’s radar has been Oct. 7—the date set for “Demo Day,” when they and their fellow cohort members will pitch their startups in front of a room of investors. 

Their preparations for this specific pitch event have been underway for several weeks, but this past week has included an appropriately focused look at perfecting it. They’ve had a few smaller events at which they’ve been able to deliver the pitch, and those have gone quite well.

At this point, the presentation is well-defined and the team is ready to go. 

The reality, though, is that (a) entrepreneurs are always pitching and (b) life and business goes on for GILD Collective regardless of Demo Day. They still have a business that's resonating with customers, generating revenue and continuing to grow. So with that in mind, the team has had to get used to the notion of taking care of the urgent (like the Demo Day pitch) while also taking care of the important (like ensuring current customers are happy and executing their overall strategy).  Such balance is an example of what my friend Mike Richardson calls the “agile middle.” 

For example, the team has created a new holiday collection of crafting projects, some photos of which are below. 

The team’s ratings of volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity (VUCA) during the past week have decreased somewhat, and the sentiment at least for now is that the team will continue operating in a similar or slightly elevated level of VUCA.  

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

The team is exploring a handful of pivots, both internally and externally.  

First, the team has officially had its last instructor-led party. All parties will now be led by the hostess, with video and written crafting instructions guiding the party’s activities. The team continues to explore the notion of still having on-the-ground advocates—they’re calling them “community ambassadors”—who can help expand the brand and build the business. Defining that is taking quite a bit of discussion, but they want to think of everything in advance as much as possible. 

Internally, they’re thinking about what role would be their first hire. Originally, they thought that such a role might be in the technology/software development area, but recently they’ve started to wonder if it should be someone who can manage operations. This could be important depending on how much time Jessie, the CEO, needs to spend on external fundraising activities. 

Finally, you know those automated e-mails that you sometimes get when you inquire about something on a website? GILD Collective used to have those. But they stopped doing that a few weeks ago and are instead responding personally to inquiries coming into their site. This shift appears to be converting potential hostesses at a higher rate than the automated communication, which means more parties and more business for GILD Collective. 

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: