The Agile Startup Week 15: Managing the Unexpected while Crafting the Brand

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. 

Dealing with changes in supply and demand is tough for any business, but it’s especially difficult for a startup. That’s because startups simply haven’t existed long enough to build the infrastructure needed for managing such contingencies. 

And it’s often the case that startups have so much going on at any moment that they’re forced to learn when the unexpected is forced upon them.

Given that GILD Collective, which has now finished its 15th week with the Cincinnati-based business accelerator The Brandery, specializes in helping people have crafting parties, they’ve had to learn on the fly about what to do when (a) parties need to be rescheduled and (b) supplies take longer than expected to arrive. 

This past week, they’ve been working through both scenarios—building contingency plans so that they’re ready. This is a critical step for them as a team because they’re really selling an experience. If that experience suffers, so does their brand. Thinking through these scenarios and anticipating other types of changes is a hallmark of agility, and although it’s difficult, it’ll help the team be stronger and the business will be more resilient as a result. 

At the same time, the team is continuing to refine their brand and tell their story.

Here’s a great new promo video that’s gaining people’s attention. 

The team’s ratings of volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity (VUCA) during the past week were similar to those in Week 14. One of their biggest challenges right now is to stay focused on both getting ready for Demo Day (the Oct. 7 event during which they’ll get to pitch their business to investors) and on executing their strategy. 

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

The team continues to have micro-pivots, both internally and externally.  

Given their move away from an instructor-based model, GILD Collective is working to define a new role of “community ambassador.” Some of the people who were formerly serving as instructors may choose to take on this new challenge. It’s a role that is still being worked out, but it will likely involve being an on-the-ground representative as GILD Collective expands. 

Last week, I mentioned how the team was seeking input on new cities for them to focus upon as they grow. They used a voting app on their website (check it out), and Columbus currently leads the pack. 

Internally, the team is continuing to work toward increasing their efficiency with a few internal tasks. Namely, who is doing what, when and how. This may seem mundane and insignificant, but these types of routines are critical to operational reliability—and sanity. 

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: