Erin Hopmann

How do you feel about the project today?
I can’t believe it’s September 2. And that we’re eight days into this project already. I’m excited to get my hands dirtier this week now that we have a rough plan after much feedback and conversation last week.

Truly, can I suggest this honesty thing to those of you who are at a standstill – whether it’s personal or professional? It’s been incredibly enlightening and encouraging for us.

What’s the plan?
I mentioned a few days ago that we’d been getting a good amount of feedback that suggested we increase the cut we take of the classes. Right now we take 25%, and many teachers are saying that given the value of what they get from teaching with Dabble, they would be willing to give up more $ to us.

This is something we wouldn’t have just implemented without getting this feedback and mulling over the pros and cons, so it’s good that teachers have come forward willingly to suggest this as a solution. Next stop: understanding if this is a small minority of teachers or if changing our fee structure in fact holds water. We’re also talking about what additional value we can provide in exchange for taking a higher cut of the ticket.

We’d love your feedback: what else might Dabble do, if anything, to add value to the teaching experience? (Feel free to email us or leave your thoughts in the comments section below.)

We also need to get some cash in the door in the short-term. So we’re doing our own version of Kickstarter with Dabble bucks (to put toward Dabble classes) and a Dabble tote bag as a reward. Stay tuned!

What’s your financial situation look like?
The short answer? It could be better. (And that’s understating it.) Balancing short-term financial band-aids versus sustainability is something we’re trying to do. For instance, making a shift in our revenue model only works if a few other things are improved upon, too. If everything we’re doing right now is simply a band-aid fix, that’s a problem. So we’re modeling things out and moving forward with this in mind.

This rings true both personally and professionally, by the way. After three years of scraping by financially, at what point does one need to say, “enough’s enough. I need to plan for the long haul.”

Onward and upward!


Jess Lybeck

How do you feel about the project today?
Good. Feeling a bit refreshed after the weekend. Today was the first day I dug back into Dabble stuff. It might be Labor Day, and I probably shouldn’t be working. However, I know that I’ll feel so much better if I unbury my email inbox and get organized around what I want to accomplish for the week.

I’m realizing how short 30 days really is. We’ve accomplished a lot in 8 days but I feel like we’re moving in slow motion. I always feel that way. I know it’s a flaw of mine. Wanting to move so quickly, so impulsively. I’d rather bulldoze my way through a problem then be thoughtful. Thank god Erin is the opposite person, we’d have a mess on our hands.

But, as they say, actions speak louder than words.

What’s the plan?
This week, we’ll be changing our business model. Simple as that. We’ve heard the same ideas from Dabblers & teachers alike – you should be taking a bigger cut of ticket sales & you should figure out a membership model where students are motivated to “Dabble” every month (kinda like the gym). The combination of these two things would be game-changers for us.

The task now is to figure out A) If this will really be as awesome for students and teachers as we think it will be on paper B) How to implement in a low-cost, high-impact way.

We don’t have all the information (we’ll never have all the information) but it’s safe to say it’s do or die. We’re talking to a few users first to get feedback on our game plan and make sure Dabble is just as valuable after the change. If it was up to me, we’d do it today. Erin may want to plan a bit more …

What’s your financial situation look like?
Our Dabble bank account is looking mighty sad. Mighty mighty sad. Even with cutting back on staff & expenses, Dabble is still making less than we’re paying out each month. We’ve got enough in the bank to operate comfortably for a few more months. We’ve gotta sell more tickets and/or change everything.

Personally, I’ve got a little cushion in savings and also have a fiance with a steady job. I have a few hours of consulting I could do here & there. Although it wouldn’t be pretty in the next few months without a paycheck, I could make it.

Erin is living in San Francisco with no paycheck and ridiculous rent / living expenses. We lean on each other for moral support during these times, helping remind each other of the non-monetary benefits we get from working on Dabble. As they say, you shouldn’t become an entrepreneur expecting a huge pay-out.


We plan on answering different questions every day. Submit a question you’d like answered by emailing 30daysofhonesty (at) dabble.co.

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26 responses to “Day Eight”

  1. Oz du Soleil says:

    I really question the shift in the take from instructors. Would an extra $20 or $50 from me make a significant difference?

    Might you install tiered levels of instructors and a payment schedule? There’s a difference between the different types of instructors. There are those that teach once or twice and then never heard from again. I imagine that there’s high front-end cost to bringing on a new instructor. Maybe you have a structure where the % changes as an instructor teaches more.

    Also. I think that there’s got to be income from somewhere else. Old Town School would probably shrivel up if they relied on their students to survive. They host festivals and concerts; they have 2 music stores; and there’s corporate sponsorship and donations.

    I doubt that Second City could survive just on their students. Traditional universities tack on bizzaro fees. One of the city colleges added $60 to my tuition as a fee for taking just one class. (I refused and didn’t take the course.)

    One thing to consider: what would be involved with offering classes that teachers can use for Continuing Education credit? I don’t know if that would have to come from Dabble or the instructor or, if Dabble could help facilitate that.

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