The Agile Startup Week 3: Branding, Selling, Learning

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—which is Jessie Deye, Rachel Bauer McCreary and Kelsey Pytlik—just finished its third week as members of the Cincinnati-based startup accelerator The Brandery. It was another week of hard work, insights and learning. 

Here are a few key highlights from the team for this week: 

  • They've continued booking parties and acquiring new customers. Achieving and continuing this momentum is critical, as it helps them continue to learn what’s working and what’s not. And, of course, it’s important because it means revenue for the business. There’s more info and the capability to book a party on their website
  • They’re setting difficult, specific goals for themselves for getting new users and booking crafting parties. The industrial/organizational psychologist side of me likes this quite a bit. Setting difficult, specific goals is one of the best ways to keep people focused and motivated.
  • Partnering with local organizations. This is important because it will allow them to continue building their brand through word-of-mouth marketing. It’s also important because oftentimes collaborating with other organizations is a key way in which a business can reach their intended market.
  • They’re working on continuing to figure out their customers and how to influence their decisions. Focusing on the customer is a good idea for any business, but for startups, it’s non-negotiable. That’s because getting people to fork over their own hard-earned cash for a product or service is surprisingly tough in the beginning days of a business. To their credit, GILD Collective is already doing it.
  • Branding efforts continue. No surprise, but The Brandery is rather focused on the brand. GILD Collective continues to work with those involved with the accelerator to determine exactly what they want people to think about when they think about them. And this isn’t just a fun thought experiment. It’s a critical foundation for all marketing and communications in the future. 

The team continues to experience volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity (VUCA). Interestingly, though, this week seems to have less VUCA than previous weeks. This could be due to an actual reduction in VUCA, but it’s also highly likely that the team members have also begun to get a sense for what “normal” is like right now for them. 

Here are the summaries of their ratings of each. 


The team is continuing to learn and experiment. 

Like I’ve done in previous weeks, I asked them about their pivots—both internal and external. These planned course corrections are at the heart of agility for startups, as they indicate that the team has noticed something that differs from what they assumed and responded accordingly. 

Internally, they’re continuing to figure each other out—which is a very good thing. For example, they’re figuring out how to best communicate with each other when priorities or deadlines shift. That way, no one person ends up waiting around for something and expectations remain aligned.      

Externally, the team is learning more about their message and brand. For example, they realized that a big part of their value proposition is in the experience they provide to the people who host and attend their crafting parties. That is, it’s not just about making crafts, it’s about facilitating a way for friends to get together and have a fantastic time. 

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: