Fyli makes a big bet on vulnerability and women entrepreneurs are taking note

Published on November 25, 2019

Just the right environment for clear thinking can change the course of any business — or life — for that matter.

Or at least that’s the thinking behind Fyli, a think-tank meets meetup group geared towards women entrepreneurs. Fyli founded by entrepreneurs Summer YL and Jaclynn Brennan, brings together a room of diverse thinkers and dreamers who can shift conversations, add opinions and feedback and contribute different perspectives with what the duo call “clarity and directness that moves the needle.”

Their aim is to foster an environment that gets women entrepreneurs talking: When you feel open, connected, present, vulnerable and safe. Grit Daily spoke with YL and Brennan to get a closer look at what Fyli looks like from the inside out and what’s in store for its members.

Meet the Fyli team: Jaclynn Brennan (cofounder, pictured above), Summer YL (cofounder, lead image).

Grit Daily: You both had your own interesting adventures before you started Fyli. Share those.

Summer YL: Before Fyli NYC, I have been running NuWa Marketing for about two years. NuWa Marketing is purportedly one of the best content marketing agencies between U.S. and China. Some of our clients from China are public traded companies for decades. And I have always been very passionate about female entrepreneurship and philanthropy. I am very active in giving back in different ways — as guest lecturer at NYU, and a mentor to high-school girls at the Girls for Goals program, or hosting galas for women entrepreneurs.

Jaclynn Brennan: Summer and I started Fyli because we learned early on that success is only limited by our mindset, habits and the people we have access to within our network. When you decide to upgrade your thoughts, daily disciplines, habits and relationships, you begin to upgrade your life.

Before Fyli, I had been helping entrepreneurs create the foundation of their business and brand identity through my consulting company, Creative Duality. What I call creative duality is the ability to strategize and explore new frontiers using conceptual thinking, which allows me to embrace originality and make the connection between business and branding. 

I stepped into the start-up world in the beginning of 2019 as a Founding Partner and Commercial Director for fashion-tech company eSTYLAR, a fit solution for the fashion industry. Its technology improves the customers online shopping experience by capturing two photos in real time, using their cell phone. We are then able to calculate their exact body measurements, identify their body type, and choose garments that will fit them best, 

GD: For the uninitiated, how does Fyli differ from existing women communities, clubs, and event series?

JB: Fyli (pronounced- Fee-Lie), which means “tribe” in Greek, is an all female master-mind group. Fyli creates a sense of challenge and inspiration that allows women to rise in every aspect of their lives while providing members the tools to optimize their growth through peer to peer feedback, educational workshops and deep learning retreats. The mastermind group promotes cultural diversity, bringing together all age demographics and various industry experts. 

We found that most people do not know what a master-mind is! A mastermind group (by definition) is a mentoring concept through which individuals can form groups to learn from each other and grow together. The intention of the group is that peers help each other problem solve, share contacts, and further develop through input and advice. 

Fyli mastermind meets once a month in New York City with exclusive partners including CORE:. The prestigious CORE: was founded in 2005 by Jennie and Dangene Enterprise (yes, that’s her real name) in a magnificent architectural space that serves as an exclusive haven where the world’s greatest minds come together, share ideas, learn and do business.

Together, we created 12 months of very strong educational programming based directly on members needs and wants. We bring in top educational partners and industry experts who lead master-class sessions and workshops so we can put the learnings to use. Fyli also holds two retreats in that 12-month time frame. 

GD: What’s behind the Fyli name?

SYL: I knew from day one we perfect co-founders. We were casually brainstorming, having fun thinking of concepts — just as best friends usually do, and it still hasn’t changed to this day! — and I suggested to Jaclynn we should choose something mysterious, maybe a Greek word? Jaclynn came back with Fyli the next day, she told it’s the Greek word for “tribe.” From that day, our tribe has been growing and giving back.

JB: We wanted the name to have a deeper meaning that brings people closer, something that hits home. When I think of a tribe — which is what Fyli stands for — it means community, a family. 

GD: How did you too meet and come up with the Fyli idea?

SYL: We met in the ladies room at Soho House, according to Jaclynn. (Laughs.)

I do remember how we got close clearly. I was hosting a gala for female entrepreneurship at the Harvard Club in NYC. Soon after we met, she came to my gala to support me. After the gala, we were talking casually (again) at Soho House when we run into each other often. Jaclynn recently returned from Brendon Buchard’s High performance Academy conference and told me she wanted to look into masterminds based in New York.

After a lot of research, we quickly realized there were none in New York focused on female founders. So we decided to build it together. And our casual conversation and commitment become a passion project which leads to a growing tribe to give back!”

JB: The first time Summer and I were introduced was at a WeTalks female founders pitch event in NYC. We got to know each other through our Soho House community, and would bump into each other almost every day. I always loved Summer’s energy, her joy and light is what draws people in.

After we started developing a friendship, we would sit together and work at a shared community table. Eventually other female founders would sit with us, and we would share insights and ideas. Entrepreneurship can be lonely at times, we always valued the idea of having a community of support. 

After I returned from Brendon Buchard’s HPA conference, I learned the importance of an accountability group. Peers that inspired you, or were already above you in a professional settings. Summer and I did a ton of research and decided to start our own master-mind. We wanted to create something so much more then just women’s brunches and networking happy hours — not that there is anything wrong with those things. We wanted to create a community that focused on education, learning, and putting things in ACTION. 

GD: Why enter what looks like a very crowded professional women community market?

SYL: Fyli was created by our own personal needs. We could not find a female executive master mind based in NYC, so we aw a real market opportunity. We validated the idea by hosting a panel discussion for “member awareness” at Soho House NY in Sept 2019, and we completely filled the room.

After our concept was validated, we had an overwhelming number of applications and responses from women who wanted to join this kind of community.

GD: What are your goals for Fyli for 2025?

SYL: Our goal by 2025 is to license and scale the Fyli mastermind model and education programming. We would love to have cohorts all over the world in partnership with exclusive club houses. Eventually, our larger dream is to create a FYLI Fund + Incubator to help female founded businesses grow and scale with pooled resources. 

Lana Pozhidaeva is a Columnist at Grit Daily. Lana is also the Founder of WE Talks, a NYC-based monthly event series for female entrepreneurs and professionals. “WE” stands for Women’s Empowerment, Encouragement, and Entrepreneurship. WE Talks is one of NYC’s fastest growing professional communities (monthly growth exceeding 50%) with 300+ women attending its latest gatherings.

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