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DAY FIVE – AUGUST 30TH, 2013

Erin Hopmann

How are you feeling about this project?
I’m so happy we did this. Feeling hopeful, grateful… all of it. (But also feeling like I probably sound like a broken record.)

We’ve made a commitment to blogging for 30 days about our situation. This is a commitment, right? We can’t just say on day 8, “This thing is getting old. We’re just gonna stop.” Well, we could. But of course, we’d be breaking a promise, disappointing people – and perhaps most importantly, disappointing ourselves.

It dawned on me: this feeling is much like starting a business in the first place. Sure, conventional wisdom may say that you can do whatever the hell you want. It’s your life and you shouldn’t let anyone else dictate it.

But, in the case of running a business, there are a few key milestones that make it hard (wrong?) to turn around. For me, it’s been a combination of two things: 1) seeing that we’ve struck a chord with people and have a loyal base of people teaching and taking classes; and 2) we have investors who’ve put money into Dabble, having confidence in us and our vision.

Jess and I are inherently determined people in the first place, but these few milestones have most definitely made us more committed than ever to making it work.

What’s the plan?
Roughly, the idea that we’re not commanding a high enough percentage of the ticket price has been consistent feedback. Believe it or not, Dabble teachers are the ones most often saying this. (That’s precisely the reason I’m so happy we did this. When coming clean about the fact that we don’t have a sustainable business, we have people so happy in working with us that they’re willing to give up more money to keep us alive.) Can you imagine volunteering to pay more for a pair of pants if you found out your favorite retail store may have to shut down? It’s pretty incredible.

The thing we realize, though, is that not every teacher will stick with us if we raise the cut that we’re taking. And that may be ok. So we’re shifting the way we think about the Dabble platform altogether.

Further, this doesn’t solve all Dabble problems. This is step toward becoming more profitable, but we also need to work on user acquisition, too.

Next step? Talking to some users, getting feedback, and pressing on with some changes.

How did you come up with the idea for this project?
I wanted to write a blog post in the name of honesty and put it on our Dabble blog. I felt like it was important to put it out there that we’re struggling. It would pave the way for change and prompt conversation – among both our users and fellow entrepreneurs.

One post, though, didn’t seem like it would be all that effective in truly exposing the internal dialogue we’re having. And we thought it important to illuminate the dynamic and complexities we have with Dabble.

Enter 40 Days of Dating for the final inspiration. And here we are.

Are you looking forward to the weekend?
Yes. Minus the fact that Labor Day cues the end-of-summer blues.

Happy Labor Day, everyone!

DAY FIVE – AUGUST 30TH, 2013

Jess Lybeck

How do you feel about this project?
Good. We’re feeling more confident about the business. We have had a ridiculous amount of support – and some from unlikely places. Competitors reaching out a helping hand, meetings proposed from those who successfully fought our fight. Coffee with those whose companies didn’t survive, but they lived to tell about it. Entrepreneurs sharing with other entrepreneurs. Help offered from all sides. I’m just so humbled and trying to absorb it all.

While some might say that reading emails, ideas & having meetings is no way to save a business – I disagree. I think it takes a village. Dabble is better for it. Granted, more time will be need to be dedicated on DOING in the next few weeks. Talking only takes you so far.

What’s the plan?
We’re developing the best ideas and doing some research. We’ve done a lot of brainstorming and it’s time to divide and conquer between the three of us. We’ve got about 60 days of work to cram into a 30 day period.

We have lots of people who have approached us and said “How can I help?” or “I have time – what do you need?”. But we need to figure out a way to actually receive the help in a productive way. First step is creating a “Pop-Up Team” of people that want to help over the next 30 days. Definitely not all figured out, but we’ll be jumping on a call with everyone who is interested in getting involved next week as a start.

How did you come up with the idea for this project?
Erin & I have known for awhile that we wanted to write an “honest” post to our community about our situation. It didn’t seem fair that from the outside, Dabble looks like it’s doing fantastically but on the inside we knew what was really happening.

It was last Thursday that we came up with the idea to put it into a 30 day project (being inspired by this site). We decided we didn’t have anything to lose. Let’s just do it. We worked through the weekend to build the site and we’re still figuring it out as we go along.

Are you looking forward to the weekend?
Hell yes. Personally I feel all-consumed with this project and with Dabble right now. I can tell that I need a little mind break and the weekend will be good. Let the events of the last week settle and become more clear. I’ll come back to the project with more focus.

I used to work way too much. Seven days a week, early mornings, late nights. I’d give myself a couple hour “break” on weekends to go see friends and have a little fun. I’d tell myself that this was okay. Other entrepreneurs are working hard, I need to work harder.

I’ve realized, however, that for me creativity and productivity doesn’t start with me turning on my computer at 7am and working for 14 hours straight. Thus I’ve found some balance in my life in the past year. I work out or do yoga most days. I eat better. I sleep more. I spend time with the people I love without feeling distracted or checking my email. I shut down. I do my best not to think about Dabble every waking moment. Best of all, I feel better. I feel happier.

Well … this week all that went to shit. I worked too late. I ate like shit. I didn’t work out. I checked my email obsessively. Today I worked and g-chatted with Erin while sitting in the passenger seat on my way out of town for the weekend – leaving Mike (my fiance) to face the road alone. Balance, schmalance.

The hours I worked this week were happy, I love what I’m doing – it’s all encompassing. But it’s not sustainable. Now I just need to figure out how to save Dabble AND not be an asshole to myself over the next 30 days.

 

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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46 responses to “Day Five”

  1. Oz du Soleil says:

    First of all: MORE CUSSIN!
    Thanks, Jess for your unabashed passion.

    I question the idea about changing the % of fees that Dabble takes. How much of a difference would that make? With most of the courses at such a low price, volume is still critical.

    I’ve always been ok with the 25% Dabble take. The 100% for my own referrals, that was a nice perk but it created confusion and was difficult to track. A straight 25% would have been fine, and skip the referral incentive.

    Moving the % from 25% to 40%, 50% on a $25 tuition still isn’t much if there’s no volume.

    I liked the ‘private course requests’ that you tried earlier this year. That seemed like it happened when there were a lot of changes all at once. I think something like that could have gained some traction but when the marketing is up to the teachers … that’s a tough one.

    Any way … let’s keep thinking.

  2. Rachel Kiriakos says:

    Sign me up for a Pop-Up Team! I freakin’ love what is going on here and would love to be involved.

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